Comparing XML Schemas with DiffDog 2010


DiffDog 2010 includes a powerful new tool to compare XML Schemas that XML developers and others can use to update existing XML data files as XML Schemas evolve. This post takes a look at an example scenario for this feature.Before we drop into the new functionality, let’s take a quick look at two XML Schemas using the DiffDog File Compare feature. Of course, just like in previous versions, DiffDog 2010 users can compare XML Schemas as .xsd documents and display differences in a color-coded, XML-aware format.DiffDog file comparison view of XML Schemas This is a good way to identify and manage differences in XML Schemas, especially when you want to review revisions to industry-standard XML Schemas that evolve over time.What’s new in DiffDog 2010 is an additional XML Schema Differencing option that graphically displays two XML Schemas side by side, identifies identical elements automatically, and lets users map differences and generate XSL transformations to update XML data files.Here’s our first view when we open the same two XML Schemas shown in the file comparison above, using the new XML Schema Differencing feature.Initial DiffDog XML Schema Differencing view of XML Schemas The root elements of the two XML Schemas are automatically connected. We can click the Compare button in the toolbar to automatically connect identical elements in the two XML Schemas.DiffDog XML Differencing (Of course we could also select Compare XML Schemas from the right click context menu, or choose Start Comparison from the Diff and Merge menu, or press the F5 keyboard shortcut – DiffDog gives you many options to perform the same task, so you can work the way you like.)Next, we can map elements with different names in the two XML Schemas by manually connecting the pointer arrows between them. In this example most of the changes to the version of the XML Schema on the right simply give elements new names that will be more clear when the XML Schema and its data files are distributed through our enterprise.User-mapped XML Schemas in DiffDog XML Schema Differencing view When all the elements are mapped, we can generate an XSLT file to transform existing XML data files based on the XML Schema on the left to reflect revisions in the newer version on the right. This feature is designed to rescue XML developers from the tedious tasks of writing and debugging XSL transformations by hand.DiffDog Diff and Merge Menu Here is an example of an original XML data file based on the XML Schema on the left side, as viewed in Altova XMLSpy:XML data file viewed in XMLSpy The output file after applying the XSL transformation we created with DiffDog 2010 appears below. Note the substitution of the author element for writer, email for feedback, and so on.XSL output viewed in XMLSpy If there are many existing XML files that need to be transformed, the Project Management features of XMLSpy can help us automate the process. We can add external folders to an XMLSpy project.XMLSpy Project Helper Window Using the XMLSpy properties dialog for each project folder, we can assign default values to assign an XML Schema for validation, the XSL transformation, and the destination of the output.XMLSpy project folder properties dialog Now we can select the input folder in the XMLSpy Project helper window and transform all the files in it with the single-keystroke F10 shortcut.When we originally mapped the XML Schema elements in DiffDog, we left the publication element on the left side unconnected, since it had no corresponding element in the earlier version of the schema. That means when we transform XML input files using the XSLT, the resulting output will not contain the publication element. If publication is a required element, we can call on Altova MapForce for a quick solution.One of the options in DiffDog is to generate a MapForce mapping rather than XSLT. When we choose this option, MapForce launches with our DiffDog mapping already loaded as a new MapForce design, as shown below.MapForce New Design It’s easy to enhance the mapping by adding a constant as a default value for the publication element.MapForce enhanced design Now we can save an XSL file from MapForce that reuses all the element mappings we originally designed in DiffDog and adds the constant. When we apply the new XSL to transform our original XML data file, we get a result that includes the default value for the publication element.Final version of output viewed in XMLSpy This post started by describing the new XML Schema Comparison feature in DiffDog 2010. Fleshing out a simple – but typical – real-world example quickly highlighted additional tasks easily completed by taking advantage of tight integration with XMLSpy and MapForce.All three of these tools and more are available at substantial savings in the Altova MissionKit 2010, the integrated suite of XML, database, and UML tools designed to meet the diverse development and data management needs of today’s software architects and XML developers. Click here to download a free trial today!

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Report from Microsoft PDC


We always enjoy meeting developers who currently use Altova tools and others with projects our tools can help them complete. This year’s PDC in Los Angeles was no exception – great weather, great camaraderie, and a brand new Version 2010 of the Altova MissionKit to demonstrate and talk about. Below is our short YouTube video of PDC highlights. If you were there, see if you can spot yourself in the crowd. If you didn’t get to go this year, we’re sorry we missed you.  

  Wanted2 And don’t forget to check out Version 2010 of the Altova MissionKit online. Version 2010 is packed with over 70 new features that were requested by our current users. Our What’s New page describes highlights of the major new functionality in XMLSpy and the other Altova developer tools. If you are covered by a current SMP plan, your update to v2010 is free. If you need to purchase an upgrade, click here to visit the Upgrades page on our Web site. The Altova Upgrades page describes all the details and connects to our online Upgrade Wizard to get started right away. You may be eligible for a discount of up to 40%! Our trip to Microsoft PDC wraps up the Altova show season for 2009. We hope to see you in person at another event next year.

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New in StyleVision v2010


Over fifteen new features, and they’re not small ones either, they’re the kind that a Marketing Manager has to write about. Several months ago I was groaning (inwardly, of course) about this. But the v2010 release is out, the StyleVision v2010 feature descriptions are written, and now I am genuinely excited to share with all of you the powerful functionality in the "Most Wanted" release. All of these features, I remind you, were directly requested by our customers either in person at the Altova tradeshow booth, or online via our Support Center or user forums – so please keep them coming! I will briefly outline some of the new functionality in StyleVision v2010 below, and make sure you look out for future posts where we will be highlighting specific features in all of the MissionKit tools in more detail. The best news of all though, is that we’ve just released the updated StyleVision online training that covers many of the new features in v2010. StyleVision is a unique tool for designing stylesheets and building reports based on XML and database data and simultaneously publishing them in HTML, RTF, PDF, Word 2007, and/or Authentic e-Forms. Completely new design paradigm To call this a "feature" simply doesn’t do it justice. The StyleVision user interface has been redesigned to give you an alternative method for how you structure your templates. Current users do not panic, this is just an option and you will still be able to use StyleVision in the way that you have learned to love. The rest of you, however, can now approach StyleVision in the same way you do common desktop applications, adding style first and content afterward. Templates can now be created within layout containers, and an optional blueprint image can be inserted as a design guide. clip_image002 Layout containers can: · Be inserted within document templates or encompass the entire document. · Inherit the dimensions of the document section or have user-defined dimensions. · Be assigned any number of style properties (borders, background color, font, etc.). · Contain a blueprint image to serve as a reference template for the design. True electronic form design through absolute positioning Absolute positioning in StyleVision coupled with the new design paradigm mentioned above lets you easily and precisely design templates for electronic forms. You can insert design elements like lines, boxes, text, etc. by specifying their x and y coordinates in the document section. Take a look at the example below – an I-9 form template based on an imported blueprint image – to see how this works. clip_image004 Support for multiple page layouts in the same document This is an extremely important feature for anyone working with print formats in StyleVision where it is not uncommon to find pages with many different requirements in the same document. For example, you may need to intersperse pages of different sizes, landscape and portrait modes, different headers and/or footers, etc. You can now use document sections to specify different layout properties for your templates. clip_image006 Column formatting for print output formats Another great new feature for print output in StyleVision is the ability to add automatically formatted columns in template designs – columns that flow content from the bottom of one column to the top of the next. clip_image007 Inline HTML, XSLT, XSL:FO processing commands And now let’s delve a little into the more technical new features in StyleVision… You can now insert processing commands at virtually any point in your design templates. This gives you the flexibility to call upon functionality that is not necessarily natively supported in StyleVision. clip_image009 Ability to import external XSLT files StyleVision now also allows you to import external XSLT files as part of their template designs. This adds an xsl:import statement to the StyleVision stylesheet and enables you to add your hard coded XSLT files to styles and other integrated features from the StyleVision design interface. clip_image010 Extension templates based on any XPath StyleVision now also supports the use of XPath wildcards: (*, node(), etc.) and the | operator, for example, can now be used for user-designed templates that can output a wide range of variable data based on the referenced XML source code. This allows for full flexibility in selecting nodes and values from any XML location and in any combination within your document(s). clip_image011 Additional new features in StyleVision v2010 That is a brief list of my favorite new features from the StyleVision v2010 "Most Wanted" release, but we have also included many others such as: · Ability to print design templates · XHTML output option · Disable-output-escaping function · Ability to modify output DPI · Support for variables in design · Native code calls (.NET, Java, JavaScript, etc.) in XPath statements   Download a free trial of StyleVision v2010 – or if you have active SMP, download your upgrade today!

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Altova at Microsoft PDC


clip_image001The Altova road trip continues as we head west to Microsoft PDC in Los Angeles from November 17-19 at the Los Angeles Convention Center. If you’ll be attending PDC, make sure to stop by and meet with the Altova team at booth 517. We’ll be demonstrating all the Most Wanted features of Version 2010, our latest software release that includes XBRL enhancements in XMLSpy, support for WSDL 2.0 in XMLSpy and MapForce, a new absolute positioning design paradigm in StyleVision, database schema conversion in DatabaseSpy, and much more. With the new emphasis on software modeling in Microsoft development tools, you’ll want to check out SysML and all the other new functionality in UModel 2010. We love L.A., but if you’re not going to PDC this year, be sure to check the Altova blog again later for updates about the event and more details about Version 2010.

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Just-in-Time StyleVision Training


Multiple new features and usability enhancements have been added to StyleVision® 2010 based on customer requests, and Altova Online Training has updated all StyleVision modules to help you take advantage of these improvements.   Altova Online Training The beginner and intermediate level course begins with an introduction to the StyleVision interface and functionality as well as interactive tutorials for transforming XML and database content into eye-catching HTML pages, RTF documents, PDF reports, Word 2007 (OOXML) docs, and intuitive Authentic® forms.  Module 2 builds on this foundation and provides detailed tutorials that will help you create an effective SPS file, design print output, use absolutely positioned layout modules, and create Authentic documents for users who would benefit from updating XML documents without seeing the underlying XML syntax. Module 3 introduces more advanced topics and includes step-by-step instructions on inserting auto-calculations, outputting XHTML, importing XSLT, disabling output escaping, setting DPI conversion factors, and using variables and user-defined templates and elements.  Access the free StyleVision Course now.

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MapForce v2010 – “Most Wanted”


As a frequent attendee at the Altova booth at tradeshows, I have to say that this v2010 "Most Wanted" release has been one of my favorites since I’ve been with the company. Rather than centering the release around a marquee technology like we have in the past with XBRL, OOXML, etc., this time we have added to the MissionKit a collection of over 70 (not a typo) of the features that our customers have requested the most. Many of these requests have come directly from the tradeshow floor, and some I even recall scribbling down myself. Others have come from through our Support Center, and still more from Altova’s online user forums. So keep those requests coming, and we’ll keep on listening! In this post I’ll outline a few of the new features added to MapForce below, and be sure to look out for our future posts where we will spotlight individual features in more detail. Processing data from/into multiple files MapForce users have always been able to map data explicitly to and from many different components at the same time. This feature takes that ability much further, letting you implicitly process files, for example to/from a file collection or directory using a variety of different methods including wildcard values, database tables, auto-number sequences, and more. For example, the screenshot below shows files from a directory being mapped into a single target file using a wildcard (?) value. clip_image002 The output file generated from this mapping can be saved to any location from the Output Preview window. If you’d rather separate the output results into two separate XML files, you can just add a connection between the two file items at the top of each mapping component. Using file names as parameters As a complement to this functionality, you can now use file names as parameters in your mappings – an extremely useful feature for real-time transformations when this information may not be known until run time. In the example below, this is accomplished using an input parameter and connecting it to the file item node in the source mapping component. clip_image004 Support for WSDL 2.0 Like XMLSpy, MapForce v2010 has added support for Web services based on WSDL 2.0 in addition to WSDL 1.1. When you are building or connecting to Web services, MapForce automatically recognizes the syntax of WSDL 2.0 documents and applies appropriate processing rules. clip_image006 This feature gives MapForce users the flexibility to work with either version of the W3C format. A number of other features have been added to the "Most Wanted" release of MapForce including: · Support for xsi:type in XML Schema · EDI file validation in generated code · Support for additional EDIFACT messages So… be sure to download a free trial of MapForce v2010 – or if you have active SMP, download your upgrade today!

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Altova Online Training is Out of Beta


Altova Online Training After completely redesigning our training program based on customer feedback, we are excited to announce that Altova Online Training is out of beta!  With over 50 chapters of interactive, video-enhanced  lessons, our library of courses offers beginners and advanced users free tutorials in the MissionKit: XBRL, XMLSpy, MapForce, and StyleVision. Learn about a specific topic or take a whole course, study at your own pace, and pick up where you left off.  Each course includes step-by-step video tutorials, technical notes, interactive quizzes, and links to important resources. Altova Online Training courses allow you to easily learn about the topics that are important to you. Altova Online Training User feedback has been essential in improving our courses, and we welcome your continued feedback on our training!

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