DiffDog Reports for Service


A recent message on Twitter asked whether DiffDog can create a differences report. The short answer is yes! In addition to its renowned directory compare and merge, file compare and merge, database compare and merge, and XML diff merge functionality, Altova DiffDog can create differences reports for directory comparisons and for file comparisons. After you select the directories or files and the compare options you want to apply, you can create a report file by choosing Export differences from the DiffDog File menu. DiffDog Export differences menu option This opens a Save File dialog that lets you choose to create the diff report in text format or as an XML file. Text format reports follow the well-accepted Unix diff style. In the directory comparison example report below, the < character indicates a file that exists only on the left side, > indicates a file exists only on the right, and ! signifies file names that occur in both directories with unequal content. DiffDog directory report text format Report files in XML format are human-readable with descriptive element names and record the the comparison mode and the paths of the directories compared: DiffDog directory report XML format You can also use the DiffDog directory report functionality to create diff report files for comparisons of Zip archives or OOXML documents. Developers and other project stakeholders often want to keep a record of changes to source code files in a software project. DiffDog can create diff reports for all comparisons of text-based files, including source code files. DiffDog can even create detailed XML-aware reports for XML file comparisons. The illustration below shows two versions of a Java source code file: DiffDog file differences example If you read our earlier series on Reverse Engineering an Existing App with Altova UModel, you may recognize this code. Lines 8 and 9 on the left introduce a new class property called fee that is set to an initial value of 2. Here is the file compare report for the differences shown above in text format: DiffDog file differences text report And the XML version of the report for the same portion of the files: DiffDog file differences text report You can even execute DiffDog from a command line to create differences reports automatically. Here is an example of a short batch file that compares the same two directories from our GUI example and writes the output in XML in a file named diff_1.xml: DiffDog batch file The DiffDog Help system includes extensive documentation on all the command line options, including specific instructions on how to integrate DiffDog with 19 popular source control systems. If DiffDog report files get your tail wagging, don’t just Twitter about it! Click here to download a free 30-day trial of Altova DiffDog.

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Adding z-segments to HL7 Mapping Components


When mapping HL7 EDI components, it is often necessary to add locally-defined information, or z-segments, to accommodate additional fields not included in the standard. Following is a simple walkthrough that will demonstrate how to add z-segments to the HL7 configuration files that are available as a free download with MapForce. In the example below we will be adding a ZLR segment to an HL7 2.3 Observation Results Unsolicited (ORU) message. The ZLR segment is commonly used for adding additional information for legacy laboratory-based reporting. ZLR attributes are provided below:

SEQLENGTHOPTDATA TYPEELEMENT NAME
1106trueXADOrdering Provider’s Address
290trueXONOrdering Facility Name
3106trueXADOrdering Facility Address
440trueXTNOrdering Facility Phone
520trueSNPatient’s Age
640trueXPNNext of Kin/Associated Party Name
740trueCENext of Kin/Associated Party Relationship
8106trueXADNext of Kin/Associated Party Address
940trueXTNNext of Kin/Associated Party Phone

The ZLR segment must follow each OBR (Observation Request) segment, and there can only be one ZLR per OBR. 1. Go to C:Program FilesAltovaMapForce2009MapForceEDIHL7.v230 to access the MapForce configuration files for HL7 version 2.3. 2. First, locate the message configuration file in question, ORU_R01, and open it in XMLSpy – or any text editor.[i] Add a ZLR just below OBR. hl7 mapping 3. Save this file as ORU_R01_ZLR (or any unique name you choose). 4. Now open the EDI collection file and add the new message to the list.[i] hl7 mapping 5. Next, simply open the HL7 SEGMENT file to add the segment details to the GENERATE DATA section as provided above.[i] hl7 mapping 6. Finally, scroll down to the GENERATE SEGMENTS section and add the following: hl7 mapping 7. Now, let’s access our newly customized HL7 EDI mapping component in MapForce. Open MapForce and choose Insert > EDI. In the Browse EDI collections dialog, select HL7.v230 and scroll down to select ORU_R01_ZLR. hl7 mapping Press OK to insert. 8. Your new mapping component will appear in the MapForce design pane with the new ZLR segment included. hl7 mapping Now you can complete your data integration design by inserting another source or target data structure(s) and dragging lines to connect nodes. MapForce supports mapping to/from XML, databases, flat files, EDI, XBRL, and Web services. [i] If you are working in XP, you will have to unclick “read-only” in the Properties dialog. Vista users will need to copy the file to another location before editing – you can then copy the file back to the appropriate HL7 collection directory. For more information about mapping HL7 and other EDI formats, please see the MapForce feature pages – or download a 30-day free trial of MapForce today!

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XBRL Training Course Updated


  We have recently updated Altova’s MissionKit XBRL online training course, which debuted in May,  to make the XBRL filing process as accessible to accountants and financial professionals as it is to more technical users.  The new course includes easily identifiable “Accountant’s Notes” to make key XBRL concepts more transferable for those with an accounting background.  An updated glossary also includes more accounting-friendly definitions of XBRL concepts to help you ease into the XBRL filing process.  Access Altova’s MissionKit XBRL course now. (Yes, it’s free!)

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XBRL… so much more than compliance


Having recently returned from a short visit to the 19th XBRL International Conference in Paris, I can’t help but think that many organizations are simply missing the point – and that perhaps the SEC mandate is partly to blame for this. One would think (well, I thought, anyway) that in the year following the issuance of XBRL reporting requirements by the world’s largest economy, that this conference would be overflowing with company representatives eager to learn more about how, and best of all, why they should mark up their financial data in XBRL. But alas, this was not the case. I can only guess that the meager attendee numbers – especially from the United States – have to do with the fact that organizations are still viewing XBRL as singularly a compliance issue and are continuing to outsource the “tagging” of their financial statements to financial printers or other EDGAR filing entities. So, is XBRL a compliance issue? Well, of course it is, but it is much more than that. I can tell you this for certain because I work for Altova and we simply do not focus on compliance software. We build tools that help businesses to maximize the efficiency of their internal processes with an eye toward reducing the overall time and cost of the data management workflow. And this is well within the realm of possibility for any company using XBRL – but it means taking a proactive look at the way you manage your data. “Tagging” implies that financial statements are drawn up in the traditional manner in a spreadsheet or accounting program and then retroactively and meticulously marked up with XBRL tags to make them compliant. Ugh… no wonder compliance has such an ugly ring to it! Haven’t we all got enough work to do? And wait, isn’t this just adding one manual task on top of another – doubling the chances of human error? I’m not sure exactly when this word “tagging” became so popular for describing XBRL implementation, but all it has done is succeeded in oversimplifying something that was not very complicated in the first place (admittedly, it was probably coined by someone in the marketing tribe – of which I’m a member). Anyway, let’s put this idea of tagging aside and see if we can come up with something a little more dangerous. Let’s say that all of your company financial data resides in some sort of backend repository, a database, accounting/ERP system, XML, or even some combination of these. What if you could simply map your data to XBRL in-house instead of having external consultants comb through reports and tag each line item? What if you could even reuse this mapping the next time you had to produce a similar financial report? And what if you could even have your IT department automate your XBRL filing processes?

XBRL Mapping Altova MapForce is an enterprise-level data integration tool that lets you do just this. It is used at a high level by developers and application architects, but its easy-to-use graphical interface makes MapForce accessible to anyone with an understanding of the data that needs to be mapped. Let’s look at a partial example to illustrate how easy this can be: The first step is to load insert the source data component – in this case a database – into the MapForce design pane. xbrl1 Note that the mapping component is a representation of the tables and columns in the database, the underlying data can, therefore, change at any time and the mapping itself will not be affected. The same is true for any mapping structure that you use in MapForce – XML, databases, flat files, EDI, Excel, XBRL, or Web services. Next, we’ll add our target mapping component, in this case a basic XBRL extension taxonomy built on top of US GAAP – Commercial and Industrial. xbrl2 Now, we can simply begin the mapping by connecting lines to associate line items. There will be some cases when we need to apply data processing rules to slightly modify the format, filter data, or even add constants for XBRL reporting requirements that do not exist in the database. All of this is very easily done by dragging and dropping intermediary functions from the MapForce library in the sidebar. Let’s say, for example, that your database automatically requires a datetime format to record any accounting period. Since XBRL reporting only requires a date, we need to strip the time out in our mapping. So, simply drag a date-from-datetime function from the library and connect the lines between your database and XBRL component. xbrl4 Of course, you’ll probably also need to add a variety of other math, logical, or other types of functions to your data, and you will find a long list of these already available in the function library.

xbrl5 You can also easily add custom functions, if needed, using a graphical function builder. In the end, your mapping will look something like this: xbrl6 Now just hit the Output tab to see what the XBRL looks like. And there you go… a reusable, extensible data mapping that you can run any time you need to submit XBRL data. You can even integrate the mapping interface into another application, or ask IT to generate code that will automate the XBRL file generation each time a report is due. For a more detailed overview of how XBRL mapping works in MapForce, check our Altova’s XBRL tutorial.

So, here we have a very quick example of generating XBRL directly from an accounting system – no need for re-keying information, no need to create a set of traditional financial statements, and certainly no need for “tagging”. And best of all, all of this can easily be done in-house and at a fraction of the cost. Now don’t get me wrong, outsourcing could very well have a place in your company’s XBRL implementation. Building an XBRL extension taxonomy, for example, could very well be something that you feel more comfortable leaving to those who have years of experience working with XBRL syntax and other complexities. But putting your organization’s financial data into XBRL… shouldn’t that be left to those who know the data best? For more information on the Altova MissionKit tools for XBRL – which includes support for XBRL mapping and automation, XBRL validation and taxonomy creation, and XBRL rendering – please visit https://www.altova.com/solutions/xbrl-tools.html …or download the Altova MissionKit today!

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Altova Tools for IT Professionals – Tell Us Your Story


MissionKit XMLSpy and the other tools in the Altova MissionKit are well-known in the development community as the go-to toolset for XML, data integration, UML, and database development projects. But Altova tools are also used by IT professionals to efficiently complete a variety of enterprise support tasks: XMLSpy is an advanced tool that makes XML documents easy to navigate and edit. Do you use XMLSpy to edit or validate any of the wide variety of XML configuration and data files increasingly essential to today’s IT environments? MapForce integrates and maps data between any combination of XML, databases, flat files, EDI, Excel 2007, XBRL, and/or Web Services. Have you ever used MapForce to merge an end-user’s Excel data into a database? DatabaseSpy is the unique multi-database query, design, content editor, and comparison tool selected as Roundup Champion by Redmond Magazine. Have you used DatabaseSpy to browse an unfamiliar database or build a SQL query to get a quick answer? And who could forget DiffDog? At every trade show visitors come to the Altova booth to rave about Altova’s file, folder, and database diff/merge tool. Do you depend on DiffDog to quickly identify changes between the live instance of a mission-critical file or folder and a backup copy? If you’re an IT professional who uses Altova tools to support the technical infrastructure of your enterprise, we’d like to hear your story. Click here to visit the Altova Case Studies page and check out the right margin to contact us. Of course you can comment right here too!

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New Data Mapping Demo Video Released


We’ve recently updated our MapForce demo video to highlight the new functionality added in MapForce 2009, including XBRL mapping and HL7 mapping. Watch the short demo to see MapForce in action and learn about this new functionality. And if you’d like more detailed tutorials, check out Altova’s MapForce training course, which is free and available on demand.   Data Integration Demo

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Part 5 – Analyzing a Legacy Application with Altova UModel


Previously in Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4 of this series we applied Altova UModel reverse-engineering functionality to create UML diagrams for an ATM banking simulation application. After analyzing the existing architecture, we planned and implemented a new feature, the withdrawal fee. Even in a reduced size, our updated sequence diagram for the withdrawal transaction clearly represents in graphical form the nested logic structure of the source code. UML sequence diagram (reduced size) This morning we happened to run into the ATM product manager at the coffee machine. “You’ve been working on that ATM code for over a month now,” he said. “When am I going to see what you’ve accomplished?” We can take advantage of the UModel Generate Documentation feature to satisfy this request. UModel will automatically create customized documentation for our project in HTML, Microsoft Word, or RTF formats. The Include tab in the Generate Documentation dialog box lets us choose which diagram types to include, and to specify the level of detail for our report by allowing us to expand each diagram element type. Altova UModel Generate Documentation dialog box For an overview report, we can select all diagram types. We’ll also select class from the Elements list to show further information about the classes in our application. UModel helpfully asks if we want to add elements derived from class as well. Altova UModel Generate Documentation helper After we have selected or adjusted other document parameters, including fonts and sizes, UModel generates the report in just a few seconds. At the top of the first page, the report begins with an index of diagrams and a separate index of elements. Each indexed item is hyperlinked to a bookmark in the document. Altova UModel project documentation in Word format Regardless which format you choose, the resulting report is fully editable. For instance, we can add a footer that includes page numbers and a tag line recording the document creation date. We can grab the tag line UModel created to create our footer. Altova UModel project documentation tag line Our completed report contains all the UML diagrams that describe the legacy ATM application, with detailed class diagrams that show the class properties and operations. Additionally, the illustration of each class is accompanied by a hierarchy diagram to show the class relationships, and a list of all the class associations. Later on as our project evolves further, we can easily generate an updated version of the report. We could even take advantage of the UModel command line functionality or the UModel API to automate creation of project documentation, or we could attach the .html version of the report to our developer team wiki. But for now all we have to do is email the report to the ATM product manager. Conclusion We hope you’ve enjoyed following along with this exercise in Analyzing a Legacy Application with Altova UModel. Although we are ending the series here, in the real world there is much more work to do on our ATM application. For instance, the feature to permit users to accept the fee or cancel a withdrawal remains to be implemented. Or, we could update the legacy code with newer Java language constructs such as generics, annotations, and enumerations. If you’re already experienced with UML we hope we’ve shown you a new trick or two. If you are a developer who’s never tried UML, we wanted to give you some of the flavor and benefits of visual software modeling. Either way, if you’re ready to go further on your own project, click here to download a fully-functional free trial of Altova UModel.

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