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Basic issues

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I am working for an e.com company that is making the transition to java and xml.
The first functionality we are taking to java and xml is
our website user registration and sign-in. We want to
eventually be able to pass the sign-in 'key' and
relevant cookies to partner websites through xml
documents. So, we are going to replace PERL cgi code
with Java servlets that will query and update the
database possibly through a layer of parsed XML
Does that make sense?
I think I have downloaded the relevant jdbc link for our database. Now I just have to figure out how to install it and invoke it. Right? Any suggestions.
How do you think I should start on the XML bit? Should we first create the DTD or Schema? From reading around the web it seems that schema allow for parsing while DTDs do not.
God! I need a lot of help. Especially getting the basics down.
Hope I'm not trying patience...
It is sorta covered in the JavaRanch Style Guide.
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