What's New…To Me?


With each release, we update the Altova What’s New page with many details and screenshots describing all the functionality added to each product in the Altova MissionKit. If you’ve ever visited the page, you know it’s quite long — and that’s why we only include information on the latest release. This is very helpful for the folks who are one version behind, but what if it’s been a while since you upgraded? You can check out the New Features Index pages, which allow you to select the current version of your product(s) to see everything that’s been added since:

SMPOf course, if you have an active Support and Maintenance Package, upgrades to the latest version are free; but even if your SMP has expired, special upgrade pricing is available. You can learn more by contacting the Altova Sales Team or entering your license key code into the Upgrade Wizard to see all your options.

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What's New in MapForce 2009?


It feels like we’ve been writing about XBRL and HL7 for months…  Let’s move away from that topic for the moment and talk about additional essential new functionality added to MapForce in the v2009 release. Granted, some of these features have been added as a necessity for mapping to/from multi-dimensional XBRL data, but they also transcend well beyond interactive financial data reporting to the other aspects of mapping XML, database, flat file, EDI, Excel 2007, and Web services data in MapForce.

Custom Functions for Data Mapping

MapForce functions add a custom data processing layer to your mappings, letting you reformat output structure and even manipulate content on-the-fly. With v2009 we have added a grouping, distinct-values, and a predicated position function to the already well-shelved MapForce function library. Grouping functions can be selected for code generation in XSLT 2.0, Java, C#, and C++ and let you effectively reorganize source data into based on common values:

  • group-by – reorganizes data in the output document based on a specified common value, or grouping key
  • group-adjacent – applies grouping to an alternating sequence of items, assigning items that have a common value to the same group
  • group-starts-with – begins a new group based on a specified pattern and puts all subsequent items into the same group until another item matching that pattern is found
  • group-ends-with – ends a new group based on a specified pattern and puts all subsequent items into the same group until another item matching that pattern is found

The distinct-values function is a data filtering operation that, simply put, automatically ignores duplicate input values when writing mapping output results. MapForce distinct-values function MapForce also now includes a predicated position function that lets you filter out data based on its context position in the input document. For example, the mapping below will return data for only the first two people listed in the source document. MapForce position function  

Extended Database Support

For users creating database mappings, MapForce 2009 provides new native support for additional databases: Microsoft SQL Server 2008, Oracle 11g, and PostgreSQL 8. It also now supports mapping XML fields in SQL Server. The complete list of natively supported databases is:

  • Microsoft® SQL Server® 2000, 2005, 2008
  • IBM DB2® 8, 9
  • IBM DB2 for iSeries® v5.4
  • IBM DB2 for zSeries® 8, 9
  • Oracle® 9i, 10g, 11g
  • Sybase® 12
  • MySQL® 4, 5
  • PostgreSQL 8
  • Microsoft Access™ 2003, 2007

Data Mapping Documentation

The ability to generate data mapping documentation makes it much easier to collaborate on large data integration projects, which often include a variety of designers, developers, subject matter experts, and stakeholders. Generate mapping documentation  

Find Dialog for Identifying Nodes

And now for a personal favorite: a new find feature. Yes, this may sound very simple and mundane – unless you have had the pleasure of mapping large and complex multi-layered data components like XBRL and EDI (there we go again!). Consider, for example, digging through an HL7 ADT A05 transaction to find the second CWE identifier field under the fifteenth PR1 segment. Find dialog Ahhh… much easier!! Take a look at the full list of new features in MapForce v2009 – and, as always, keep in mind that Altova adds new functionality to all of the MissionKit tools based on user requests… so keep ‘em coming!

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HL7 Data Integration


By now, you may be aware of the global push that is being made for data transparency – both in the realm of financial reporting* with a recent XBRL mandate in the U.S., and electronic health records – and that these efforts are focused on the creation and maintenance of XML standards. Of course most of you are among the XML savvy and can feel free to please join me in a resounding “duh” to the rest of the world that is only now beginning to realize the value of XML data in reducing errors, lowering costs, and generally increasing the overall efficiency of data management. But for now, let’s focus a bit on healthcare data and standards. Both HL7 and the HIPAA mandated X12N formats healthcare data exchange have traditionally been EDI-based, but the newest version of HL7 (version 3.x), released in 2005 is XML-based and constrained by a formal framework (HDF) that allows for an evolving data model within a carefully defined development methodology. Yes people, standards – bring it on!! Well, of course there is a need to map this data from the HL7 EDI to HL7 XML, to and from backend systems, to Web services and beyond. So what now? Do you need to become an expert in all of these formats? Weren’t standards supposed to make things EASIER? Please ladies and gentleman, return to your seats! Let me draw your attention once again to MapForce, the coolest data integration tool on the market, with support for mapping and converting data to and from XML, databases, flat files, EDI (including HL7, X12, and EDIFACT), Excel 2007, and Web services. HL7 mapping in MapForce The shot above shows a simple graphical mapping updating an HL7 v2.6 message to v3.x. Altova MapForce is an any-to-any visual data mapping tool that supports mapping HL7 data, in its legacy EDI or newer XML-based format, to and from XML, databases, flat files, other EDI formats, and Web services. Mappings are implemented by simply importing the necessary data structures (MapForce ships with configuration files for the latest EDI standards and offers the full set of past and present HL7 standards as a free download) and dragging lines to connect nodes. A built-in function library lets you add advanced data filters and functions to further manipulate the output data. MapForce can also facilitate the automation of your HL7 transaction workflow through code generation in Java, C#, or C++ and an accessible command line interface. Additional support for mapping HL7 data to and from Web services gives healthcare organizations the ability to meet new technology challenges and changing enterprise infrastructures as they unfold within internal and external provider domains. Read more on our new HL7 tools page in the Altova Solutions Center.   *The Altova MissionKit has been infused with XBRL support to meet financial reporting mandates.

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What's New in XMLSpy 2009?


In addition to being tremendously useful, some of the new features in XMLSpy 2009 are just plain cool. The complete list of new functionality includes:

  • Support for XBRL 2.1 and XBRL Dimensions 1.0  
  • XBRL Taxonomy Editor
  • XPath auto-completion 
  • Native support for additional databases 
  • Support for XML fields in SQL Server
  • Extensions for identity constraints editing in Schema View 
  • Expanded source control system support
  • Support for the XSLT extension altova:evaluate  
  • Support for Apache FOP 0.95  

We’ve already blogged quite a bit about the first two items on the list: support for XBRL validation and XBRL taxonomy editing. Some more details on the other new features are below.

Intelligent XPath Auto-Completion

We’ve been delighted to receive feedback from customers who are really excited about this new feature. If you’re developing XSLT or XQuery, writing XPath expressions just got a lot easier. As you’re composing an XPath expression in Text View, Grid View, or the XPath Analyzer, XMLSpy now provides you with valid XPath functions, as well as element and attribute names from the associated schema and XML instance(s). XMLSpy’s intelligent XPath auto-completion accounts for namespaces when listing options and even provides deep path suggestions when the required node is not in close proximity to the current context. XPath auto-completion  

Native Support for Additional Databases

XMLSpy 2009 adds new native support for the latest versions of SQL Server and Oracle, and brand new support for PostgreSQL. Support for DBs in XMLSpy allows you to generate an XML Schema based on a database, import and export data based on database structures, and generate relational database structures from XML Schemas, and so on. The built-in Database Query window lets you perform queries against the database and edit the data. Here’s the complete list of databases with native support in XMLSpy:

  • Microsoft® SQL Server® 2000, 2005, 2008
  • IBM DB2® 8, 9
  • IBM DB2 for iSeries® v5.4
  • IBM DB2 for zSeries® 8, 9
  • Oracle® 9i, 10g, 11g
  • Sybase® 12
  • MySQL® 4, 5
  • PostgreSQL 8
  • Microsoft Access™ 2003, 2007

SQL Server support has also been enhanced to allow viewing and editing of XML fields that are stored in the database.

Extensions for Identity Constraint Editing in Schema View

Configuring identity constraints (i.e., key/keyref/unique values) is an important aspect of XML Schema development, especially for database users. Adding to existing support for editing these identity constraints, there are now enhanced visual cues and editing options in XMLSpy 2009. A new tab Identity Constraints tab in the Components entry helper window displays all existing constraints in a tree view and allows you to easily modify or create new relationships. Furthermore, identity constraints are now indicated by green lines, informative icons, and mouse-over messages in the Content Model View. A right-click menu allows you to easily add new relationships and specify field and selector values by typing them manually, using drop-down entry helpers, or by simply dragging and dropping the desired nodes. Schema identity constraints

Expanded Source Control System Support

Based on customer feedback, we’ve completely reworked the source control system interface in XMLSpy and also added the same level of source control support to UModel, our UML modeling tool, allowing both products to intelligently integrate with all major SCM tools. Once a project is bound to a version control system, XMLSpy automatically monitors the status of all files and prompts the you to check out a file whenever you starts to modify the document. In addition, the actual state of each file is shown through checkmarks or locks in the upper right corner of each file icon.   What do you think of these new features? What would you like to see added to the next version of XMLSpy? Let us know by commenting below.

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New features in UModel 2009 UML modeling tool


The recently launched UModel 2009 includes new features that will help development teams of all sizes take maximum advantage of UML software modeling.

Support for version control systems

You can use version control to manage UModel project files and generated source code files. Over two dozen popular source code systems are supported. Check out the list here.

Extensive API to manipulate UModel or create UModel plug-ins

You could create an elaborate trace tool for testing and debugging that illustrates your application flow by manipulating elements in UModel diagrams, or you can create a simple plug-in that adds a custom command or menu option using your own icons and buttons. The UModel installation even includes plug-in code examples to help you get started. The sample plug-ins create new menu and toolbar options to provide shortcuts to particular style settings, to automate a series of tasks, and to reinforce a naming convention, all common modeling steps that are likely to be unique for each development team.
UModel plugin The sample code even shows you where to add the name and description description that appear in the UModel Customization dialog when a user installs your plug-in. UModel dialog The screen shot below shows UModel with several custom plug-ins installed. PlugInMenu3 adds the prefix m_ to the name whenever a new property is created in a class. UModel UML tool Note the plug-in custom toolbars directly above the Diagram Tree. The custom toolbar at the far left lets the user choose red or green to fill all currently-selected diagram elements. The Set Prefix toolbar lets the user turn the prefix feature on or off. If you want to try out the sample plug-ins yourself you can compile the sample code and add the resulting .dll files in the UModel Customize dialog. If you want to deploy the plug-ins across multiple workstations by sharing the .dll files, you will also have to register them manually at each workstation.

Support for profile diagrams in the latest UML 2.2 specification

An enterprise software architect might use custom stereotypes to define specific properties suitable to your team’s problem domain. The architect could then distribute these to the team via a shared package. The UModel Properties helper window lets you define custom stereotypes with a high level of precision. UModel UML profile diagram We are interested to hear about the applications users devise for the UModel API, plug-ins, and custom stereotypes over the coming weeks. You can add a comment to this blog entry, exchange tips with other users in the Altova Support Forum, or contact us through the link on the right side of the Altova Case Studies page to collaborate on a case study. If your development team hasn’t enjoyed the benefits of model-based software development, you can download a fully-functional free trial to test drive UModel 2009 for 30 days.

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New tables and XPath filtering for flexible stylesheet design


To an Altova MissionKit user, it probably comes as no surprise that the majority of the new features in our latest (v2009) release were based on customer requests – yeah, that’s how we roll. But we also had the opportunity to build a lot of new functionality into the MissionKit tools, specifically XMLSpy, MapForce, and StyleVision,  because of our added support for XBRL. As you may already know, XBRL is built on top of XML, and adds semantic definitions to financial reporting data. XBRL Dimensions 2.1 also has some interesting rendering and presentation requirements that, in our humble opinion, have given StyleVision some of its coolest new features to date: an all-new table design and XPath filtering. The new table design in StyleVision makes the visual stylesheet design interface only that much more intuitive. Now, you can design your table rows and columns and then simply drag borders to resize. You can also right-click to rearrange the table structure with copy and paste – or just delete the entire row/column right there. The new table design also lets you have static and dynamic properties within the same table design. tables   XPath filtering is also an enormously important new feature in StyleVision – especially for those of us who like to create reusable design templates. This feature lets you filter data out of your rendering based on an XPath expression. Simply right-click the node that you want to filter, and StyleVision’s XPath Builder will open and provide intelligent auto-completion to help you formulate a valid XPath statement. It even interprets your location in the stylesheet design so that your expression is not only valid according to the XPath standard, but it also makes sense in the context of your template design. xpath Of course, if you need to make all of your filtered data available again, all you need to do is delete the XPath filter icon in your design. StyleVision 2009 delivers all this and single source output in HTML, RTF, PDF, and Word 2007 from XML, databases, and now XBRL – and you can even design your own e-Forms for editing in Altova Authentic. Check out a free trial, and please let us know what you think!

More Altova MissionKit 2009 News


Since we announced Version 2009 of the Altova MissionKit last week, Altova’s CEO Alexander Falk has been detailing some of the hottest new functionality (among other interesting topics) over on the XML Aficionado Blog. In case you missed it, check out these highlights:

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