The Altova Online Training team is very excited to have just launched the much-anticipated first module in the XMLSpy training course! XMLSpy Module 1* provides an introduction to XML and the XMLSpy XML editor: In this beginner-level module, students start with an overview of XML, including the anatomy of XML documents and schemas. After a brief tour of the XMLSpy user interface, you’ll create an XML Schema and walk through the steps of defining a namespace, creating a content model, adding elements, configuring schema views, and generating sample XML files and schema documentation. Then it’s time to create an XML document based on the schema. By the end of this module, you will be able to enter data in XMLSpy’s grid view and text view, perform well-formedness and validity checks, add new elements, and modify your schema while working on our XML document. Detailed tutorials walk you step-by-step through each task, and you can test what you’ve learned using the interactive quizzes for each chapter. Check out the free XMLSpy training module* now, or visit the Altova Online Training page for a complete list of available training topics, including MapForce, StyleVision, XBRL, and more. All Altova Online Training courses are available on-demand and free-of-charge. *See Altova Online Training System Requirements for supported browsers, etc.
Tags: Altova, Authentic, education, single source publishing, StyleVision, XML publishing
Last Sunday’s New York Times had an interesting article on the front page about digital textbooks for the K-12 market. The piece was undoubtedly partially inspired by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s (he’s from California by the way) recently announced initiative that will replace some high school textbooks with digital versions. In fact, compared to standard printed texts, digital textbooks:
- Can be more quickly and readily updated by publishers
- Can often be purchased as individual chapters or a complete text
- Are easier to store and transport, if downloaded to a portable computer
- Can be combined with other digital materials, such as portions of other textbooks, periodical articles, instructor-provided materials, etc.
- Can offer enormous cost-savings of because of elimination of materials, shipping and storage costs that are partially passed on to purchasers
- Provide purchasing and procurement efficiencies
- May feature learning tools content such as hyperlinks to related learning modules, electronic annotation by students, keyword searches, additional graphics and pop-up modules that furnish additional information
And so XML will finally have a chance to truly demonstrate its power in the K-12 market. For my part, I cannot think of a better example of the efficiencies of XML publishing than for education. Certainly most, if not all, of the major educational publishers are already using XML workflows internally because of benefits like validation, single source publishing, amenability to standards and metadata tagging, etc. XML also gives publishers the ability to easily manage multi-dimensional educational content. Educational content, like textbooks and other learning materials, is usually structured around a fairly simple content model using word forms such as titles, paragraphs, quotes, etc. The second dimension of the content is contextual information – footnotes, glossary terms, highlighting items – anything that may be necessary to target a specific audience. For instance, if a piece of content is to be included in a sixth grade textbook it would have different markup than if it were to be used for an eighth grade classroom. The third dimension of K-12 educational content is the standards dimension. Standards are in most cases on the state level and are used to ensure that teachers know exactly what topics they are teaching in a particular piece of the content, ensuring they are covering the complete set of standards for state aptitude tests, like the MCAS. The standards dimension itself has the potential for further layering as content producers adopt their own standards to guide teachers to other relevant standards and topics that the content is aligned to. XML is particularly well-suited to digital publishing of educational content for its ability to easily separate or layer these dimensions and repurpose it in nearly unlimited ways without the need for rekeying information. For example, one company in the article, CK-12 Foundation, develops free “flexbooks” that can be customized to correlate with state standards. Without XML, this would be a nearly (if not completely) impossible undertaking – with XML you can use many of the existing XML content creation tools to streamline the process. So what has taken so long for the K-12 market to embrace XML-enabled digital learning materials? Well, it appears that the issue is an economical one. We still live in a country where many students do not have access to a computer, and few school districts have the means to provide them. Perhaps in the near future there will be a solution for this problem – and perhaps, just perhaps, California has just taken the first steps to lead us in the right direction. So, where does Altova fit into this equation? Well, the Altova MissionKit offers support for intelligent XML content creation and editing for both technical and non-technical users. These tools give educational publishers and other content contributors the ability to work with structured XML content in a comfortable atmosphere, with easy-to-use interfaces, entry-helpers, drag and drop functionality, and a wide variety of options that make working in a team environment a flexible and even seamless process. Visit the Altova website to read more about the MissionKit – or download a free 30-day trial today!
Tags: Altova, Altova XMLSpy, Award, MissionKit, SD Times, Visual Studio
The Industry Has Spoken… For us at Altova, being recognized by our industry peers is an honor and something we are proud of and want to share with all of you – our current and future customers. This summer Altova was named to both the 2009 SD Times 100 and Visual Studio Magazine Readers’ Choice Awards. Altova was named to the SD Times 100 list in the ‘Tools & IDEs’ category as a leader and innovator in the software development industry. Alan Zeichick, editorial director of SD Times magazine, said, “The software development industry has always been led by innovation, and that’s true even in today’s challenging economic climate. When choosing the 2009 SD Times 100 winners, we carefully considered each organization’s products and services, reputation with enterprise development managers, and the new ideas and thought leadership that it has brought to the industry. Thanks to companies like Altova, the art of software development continues to advance at a rapid pace.” And it was the Altova XMLSpy 2009 XML editor that was recognized for excellence with a 2009 Readers’ Choice Award from Visual Studio Magazine. The winners were chosen by Visual Studio Magazine’s readers and honor excellent software in 23 development categories. Altova XMLSpy was named in the category of ‘Web Design and Development Tools’. Michael Desmond, Visual Studio Magazine editor-in-chief and editorial director of the developer media group at 1105 Media, said, "When it comes to judging the value and capability of developer tools, you won’t find a savvier audience than Visual Studio Magazine readers. These are committed developers — demanding professionals who work with code every day and have a deep appreciation for the tools they rely on. "This isn’t a popularity contest," Desmond continued. "A product that earns a VSM Readers’ Choice Award has earned the respect and loyalty, over time, of VSM readers, some of the most demanding users on the planet. I commend all the Readers’ Choice Award winners. Visual Studio Magazine readers have put your product on top.” Check out what the industry is buzzing about and download a free 30-day trial of the Altova MissionKit that includes our full line of XML, database, and UML tools!
Tags: Altova, renewable energy
Since 2007 we have been doing our part to help lessen the effects that greenhouse gases and air pollution are having on the quality of the environment. We were recently recognized for our efforts by being named a member of the EPA’s Green Power Partnership, honoring organizations that have made a significant green power purchase, helping to reduce the risks associated with climate change by supporting technologies that are more sustainable for businesses and communities. At Altova we purchase renewable energy credits (RECs) from Renewable Choice Energy to compensate for the carbon emissions produced in powering our US headquarters. By purchasing RECs, we ensure that the specific amount of electricity we consume is replaced on the national grid with clean, carbon-free electricity. Our purchase of 144,000 kWh prevents over 200,000 pounds of CO2 pollution and that has the same environmental impact as not burning 107,653 pounds of coal, or planting 2,646 fully-mature trees, or not driving a typical car 218,830 miles! At the same time we have switched our European headquarters – Altova GmbH – over to using only renewable energy from wind, solar, and hydro power produced by Wienstrom through their Naturstrom product, the main energy supplier for the city of Vienna, Austria. Our purchase of clean renewable energy not only helps to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, fight global warming, and reduce our environmental footprint, but also provides a healthier environment for our families, friends, employees, and customers. We are honored to be recognized by the EPA for our efforts in helping to reduce the effects of pollution on our environment. It is our hope that by taking steps like these, along with other organizations, that the benefits of green power will bring about positive changes for our environment that we can all reap for decades to come.
Tags: XBRL, XBRL training
The biggest hurdle for a lot of people (myself included) when they first start looking at XBRL is the vocabulary used in the specification. There is, of course, some overlap with terminology from the XML and business reporting worlds – handy for the handful of you with a background in both – but some of the terms are entirely new and sometimes even a little cryptic (if you don’t believe me, try looking up hypercube on Wolfram for a bit of fun). Altova has published a comprehensive XBRL glossary (many thanks to Neal Hannon and Eric Cohen for their comments/suggestions) that we hope will clear some of the fog. So hopefully the next time you run headlong into a hypercube, you will feel safe knowing that has, at least in the context of XBRL, nothing to do with it.