Using Altova Tools to Work with XML Data in the SQL Azure Cloud


In an earlier post we discussed connecting to Microsoft SQL Azure databases with Altova DatabaseSpy and demonstrated database schema comparison and content comparison between a local database and the same database migrated to SQL Azure. In this post we will use a different method to migrate an existing table to SQL Azure and show you some tricks you can do with XML in the cloud. We started by creating a new database schema in SQL Azure. Then we created a DatabaseSpy project with a connection to a local copy of SQL Server Express running the AdventureWorks sample database, and a second connection to our new SQL Azure schema. DatabaseSpy Project helper window The AdventureWorks database contains a table called JobCandidate with some XML data we will use for a model for our SQL Azure XML contents. AdventureWorks JobCandidate table in the DatabaseSpy Online Browser window We can generate a CREATE statement for the existing table to use as a basis for the SQL Azure version. CREATE statement for the existing JobCandidate table We need to modify this statement to execute in our SQL Azure database. In addition to changing the database and schema names, we will remove the foreign key constraint to the Employee table, since our new database doesn’t contain a table with that name. Also, SQL Azure does not support the CONTENT keyword, so we will remove that as well. Modifying the CREATE statement in a DatabaseSpy SQL Editor window After making sure the Properties window for the revised CREATE statement points to the SQL Azure database, we can execute the statement. When we refresh the database and expand our view in the Online Browser helper window, we can see the new empty table. New table viewed in the DatabaseSpy Online Browser window A data comparison between the existing table and the new one will allow us to create a script to migrate data into our new table in the SQL Azure cloud. This is similar to the data comparison we wrote about in our previous post on SQL Azure, except instead of merging data directly, we will save the merge script. DatabaseSpy Merge Data dialog Our first attempt to run the merger script failed, throwing an error message that SQL Azure cannot insert values into the new table when IDENTITY_INSERT is set to OFF. We can add a line to the merge script to SET INDENTITY_INSERT ON and re-execute: Merge data script viewed in a DatabaseSpy SQL Editor window Next, we can run a SELECT query to view the data that was successfully uploaded. Select query and Results viewed in DatabaseSpy The DatabaseSpy Data Inspector window lets us more easily examine the contents of a wide column, and is ideal to use for XML documents stored in the Resume column of the new JobCandidate table. DatabaseSpy Data Inspector window Editing XML Data with XMLSpy If you need to revise, edit, update, or validate XML data in a SQL Azure database, Altova XMLSpy provides more robust XML editing features than DatabaseSpy. We can connect to our SQL Azure database from XMLSpy and run a SELECT query from the XMLSpy Database Query window. XMLSpy lets us open any XML row for direct editing, with access to advanced XML editing functionality. XMLSpy Database Query view of XML data in the SQL Azure cloud Of course all the familiar features of the XMLSpy text view and grid view are available. XMLSpy Text view of XML data in the SQL Azure cloud XMLSpy Grid view of XML data inthe SQL Azure cloud After your edits are complete, the XMLSpy File / Save menu option saves the revised XML document to the same row of the JobCandidate table in the SQL Azure database in the cloud. XMLSpy File / Save menu option saves XML data to the SQL Azure cloud Parsing XML Data with XQuery You can also apply the XMLSpy XQuery editor, with its built-in knowledge of XQuery syntax and context-sensitive entry helpers to build XQuery statements that parse the XML data in your SQL Azure database. The XQuery statement below extracts and returns the home addresses from the XML resumes where JobCandidateID is less than 7. XMLSpy XQuery editor for XML data in SQL Azure The XQuery statement can be executed in the Database Query window, with results immediately available to work with in XMLSpy. XQuery statement and results inthe XMLSpy Database Query window Of course the XQuery result can also be edited in Text view or in Grid view. XQuery result in XMLSpy Text view XQuery result in XMLSpy Grid view And you can save the query result either from the Database Query window or from the XML Editor view. Find out for yourself how productive you can be by using Altova tools to work with XML data in the SQL Azure cloud ̶ download a free 30-day trial of the Altova MissionKit for Software Architects, an integrated suite that includes XMLSpy, DatabaseSpy, and additional XML, database, and UML tools.

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Connecting DatabaseSpy to a SQL Azure Database in the Cloud


Tips and techniques to ease introduction of Microsoft’s cloud-based SQL Azure database into production environments led the topics in June at the Tech-Ed conference in New Orleans. SQL Azure is built on Microsoft SQL Server technologies and is designed to provide a highly-available and scalable database service hosted by Microsoft in the cloud. Developers who deploy databases in SQL Azure do not have to install, setup, patch, or manage any relational database software, only their own database structure and content. Automatic redundancy and fault tolerance are built-in and no physical administration is required. You can build a manual connection string and use SQL Server syntax and datatypes to connect DatabaseSpy and other Altova tools to SQL Azure databases to perform typical database development and maintenance tasks. This blog post makes a connection to a SQL Azure database from DatabaseSpy and demonstrates several typical operations you might want to perform as you migrate an existing database to the cloud. To retrace these steps on your own you will need a SQL Azure account, or a login and password created by a SQL Azure account holder. For more information on setting up a SQL Azure account, visit the Microsoft SQL Azure home page. You will also need to install the SQL Server Native Client 10.0 (or later). SQL Azure does not behave exactly like a local SQL Server database, so we can’t use the Altova SQL Server connection wizard. Instead we will use an ODBC connection. DatabaseSpy ODBC Connection Dialog We won’t illustrate all the details of the process of building a new connection string here. You can paste an existing connection string into the dialog shown above, or, if you need specific instructions for each step to manually create a new string, you can refer to the Tech Note titled Build an ODBC Connection String for SQL Azure on the Altova Web site. After you connect to SQL Azure the first time, a DatabaseSpy project file lets you save all your connection settings along with frequently-used SQL scripts, database design files, and database comparisons in a convenient bundle to reload later. The screenshot below shows a new DatabaseSpy project with two databases connected simultaneously, Sakila in MySQL and Sakila in the cloud in SQL Azure. DatabaseSpy Project Helper Window Microsoft provides a number of conversion tools to help users migrate existing databases to the SQL Azure platform. We used the Microsoft SQL Server Migration Assistant for MySQL to convert our local MySQL Sakila sample database to our SQL Azure account. DatabasesSpy lets users open multiple connections simultaneously, even to databases of different types. The database comparison functionality of DatabaseSpy makes it an ideal tool to check the results of the Sakila conversion. First we will open a database schema comparison and select a few tables from the MySQL database for the left side of the comparison. DatabaseSpy Comparison Selection Dialog After we select the corresponding tables from SQL Azure version, the tables open in a database schema comparison window. DatabaseSpy Schema Comparison When we click the green compare button at the top left corner of the window, DatabaseSpy compares the database structures, highlights differences, and generates a summary in the message window. DatabaseSpy Schema Comparison with Differences Some differences represent datatype definitions that vary between databases. For instance, the MySQL type unsigned small int does not have an exact equivalent in SQL Server, so the conversion tool substituted the int type for the film_id column in the film table. Also, the year datatype assigned to the release_year column in MySQL has been converted to a smallint in SQL Azure. I guess this will make the SQL Azure version of the database more forward-compatible, since it will be able to accommodate films released all the way through the year 32,767, as opposed to 2155, which is the maximum value of the year datatype in MySQL! We can compare data contained in the two databases via a selection in the right-click context menu, opening the selected tables in a new data comparison window. DatabaseSpy Comparison Context Menu The data comparison shows us the contents of the tables are not identical. DatabaseSpy Content Comparison When we open the results window, we see that the description column did not migrate successfully. DatabaseSpy Content Comparison with Results Looking back at the Database Schema Comparison window, we can see the length of the description column was set to zero. This explains the red arrows that point from the description column in MySQL to the description column in SQL Azure in the Results window. We cannot copy any string of text into a column with a defined length of zero. Instead, let’s open the SQL Azure version of the film table in a new Design window. DatabaseSpy Graphical Design View We can increase the size of the description field in the Properties window, and run the resulting change script. DatabaseSpy Graphical Design Properties Helper Window DatabaseSpy Database Structure Change Script Next, when we re-run the data comparison, we find that the data was converted, but the previously defined field length of zero made the data invisible. DatabaseSpy Content Comparison with Results Latency Issues You can use DatabaseSpy to explore latency issues for the cloud database vs. the local copy. We saw from the data comparison above that the film tables in the two databases contain 1,000 rows of identical data. We can repeatedly run SELECT statements to retrieve the data from SQL Azure and from the local MySQL database to time the results. The DatabaseSpy SQL Editor message window displays the execution time. SQL Azure Query Execution Time Running the above SELECT statement five consecutive times on the SQL Azure version of the sakila database generated results ranging from 60.632 seconds to 63.851 seconds. Running a SELECT statement for the same film table in the local MySQL database yielded the following result: SQL Server Query Execution Time Repeating the test for the local version generated similar times. The takeaway for developers is your database-driven application will likely need to accommodate latency as you move your data to the cloud. Try your own connection to SQL Azure with a free trial of Altova DatabaseSpy.

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Altova Named to SD Times 100


the award for “Tools & Frameworks” goes to Altova!

  SDTimes100We are honored to be named to the SD Times 100 for the sixth time! The award, now in its 7th year, recognizes the top innovators and leaders in multiple software development industry areas. Each year the editors of SD Times scour over thousands of nominations in search of companies, non-commercial organizations, open source projects, and other initiatives that exemplify innovation and leadership. When choosing the SD Times 100, the editors consider each company’s offerings and reputation. They listen to the “buzz” — how much attention a company, its products and technologies are creating — as a sign of leadership within the industry. Did the company set the industry agenda? Did a company’s products and services advance the software development art? Were programmers anxiously awaiting its developments? For the judges of the SD Times 100, these are qualities that mark a leader. So what makes us a SD Times 100 winner? In Version 2009, our MissionKit suite of XML, database, and UML tools added key support for working with industry standards like Extensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL) and Health Level 7 (HL7) to help companies adopt these standards while reducing costs and development time. We also rolled out over 70 new, customer-requested features in Version 2010 as part of our “Most Wanted” release, including support for WSDL 2.0, JavaScript Object Notation (JSON), and SysML, as well as compatibility with Windows 7 and 64-bit operating systems, and much more. Download a free, 30-day trial of the MissionKit (v2010r3) and see what’s new in the latest version (v2010r3) of our awarding winning suite of XML, database, and UML tools.

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MapForce Japanese Version – 日本語版 MapForce


ホームページXMLSpy 製品ページ含む Altova ウェブページの多くが日本語化されました!この作業は今後も継続して行われ、新たに翻訳されたページもできる限り素早く追加していく予定です。 We are excited to announce that a large portion of the Altova Web site – including the home page and XMLSpy product pages – is now available in Japanese! This is an ongoing effort, and new translated pages are being added as quickly as possible.

日本語版 MapForce 2010

他にも、次の日本語化された Altova バージョン 2010 製品となる MapForce 2010 のリリースを行いました。MapForce データマッピングツールは XMLSpy と共に完全に翻訳され、英語版、ドイツ語版と共にお求め頂けます(単一のライセンスキーコードにより使用する言語に関係なく製品のアンロックを行うことができます)。 日本語ユーザも、XML、データベース、EDI、フラットファイル、Excel 2007+、XBRL、そしてウェブサービスと言ったデータのマッピングと変換をグラフィカルに行う MapForce インターフェースを利用できるようになりました。無料トライアル版をダウンロードする際に、言語ドロップダウンから日本語を選択してください。 続けてその他の製品についても、地域化を続けて行く予定です。ご期待下さい!   We’ve also released the next Altova Version 2010 product to be localized in Japanese: MapForce 2010. The MapForce data mapping tool joins XMLSpy in being fully translated and available for download in Japanese as well as English and German. (A single license key code unlocks whichever language version you install.) Now Japanese-speaking users can take advantage of the graphical MapForce interface for mapping and transforming data in any format, including XML, databases, EDI, flat files, Excel 2007+, XBRL, and Web services. Simply select Japanese from the language drop down when downloading a free trial. We will continue localizing the rest of the product line throughout the year – stay tuned for more news!   altova_jp

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Visit Altova at TechEd


TechEdThe Altova team is excited to be heading to New Orleans next week to exhibit at The Microsoft TechEd and BI Conference 2010! You can find us in booth #644 at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, Louisiana from June 7-10. We hope you’ll stop by our booth to chat about what you’re working on, and see a demo of the newest features announced in our MissionKit 2010 Release 3, the integrated suite of XML, database, and UML tools. Among other features of interest for Microsoft® developers, support for integration with Visual Studio® in MissionKit tools has been updated to include Microsoft’s latest release, Visual Studio 2010 (versions 2005 and 2008 are also supported). Tools that support VS integration include the XMLSpy XML editor, MapForce data mapping tool, StyleVision stylesheet design tool, and UModel advanced UML tool. eventsWe’d be happy to show you the latest functionality in XMLSpy for working with NIEM, a United States XML-based standard that is already inherently supported in many of the Altova MissionKit products. The new version delivers support for xsi:nil for XML Schema mapping in MapForce, as well as the ability to generate C++ code for 64-bit applications. StyleVision has improved its XBRL support with the addition of iXBRL, a subset of the XBRL standard that is, at this point, primarily used only in the United Kingdom. Other important new features in v2010r3 include mapping data based on SAP’s IDoc EDI format in MapForce, and support for C# 4.0 and Protocol Machine State Diagrams in UModel. You might also be interested to hear about our new 64-bit product versions and support for working with XML on SharePoint® Server that was added to XMLSpy back in February. We will also be have the Altova product raffle – stop by and enter for a chance to win one of ten Altova product licenses!        

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Updated Industry Schema Library


“The nice thing about standards is that there are so many to choose from.” – Andrew S. Tanenbaum (attr.)

Maybe we can help. Altova’s updated schema library is a collection of over 100 industry and cross-industry XML Schema and DTD specifications – all in one central location. XML standards (and technology standards in general) are used to promote information sharing and interoperability across disparate software and systems. In a perfect world, this would translate to a global network of data being exchanged seamlessly between information partners… in a perfect world. However, there are some industries that are reaping the rewards of standardization, and hopefully these efforts will pave the way for more. Very recently we have seen an increased interest and even some actionable mandates in XBRL for financial data, HL7 for exchanging healthcare messages, and NIEM for inter-agency communication within the United States government. Of course, if you do find yourself working with some conflicting technology standards, you should probably take a look at Altova MapForce. With native support for visually mapping pretty much any data formats you can think of (XML, databases, flat files, EDI, Excel 2007+, XBRL, and Web services), easily adding data processing functions, and a whole bunch of automation options, you may even find that creating data integration solutions is well… kind of fun. Check out Altova’s Industry Schema Library, or download a free 30-day trial of MapForce today!

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Working with XML in Databases


More and more users are storing XML documents in database columns, especially when XML data is sent or received from other entities. Storing data in XML helps enterprises more easily accommodate revisions to industry-standard data formats as XML Schemas evolve over time. One challenge in migrating from a relational database to an XML-oriented database application is developing queries that replace traditional SQL queries of relational data to parse XML documents stored in the database. We recently had an opportunity to address XQuery for XML in databases in a presentation titled Altova Tools for DB2® in a teleconference sponsored by IBM® for the pureXML™ Devotees user group. After an introduction and brief background on Altova, we focused on the special functionality included in XMLSpy to manage XML Schemas in DB2 and to edit XML data stored in DB2. The XMLSpy Database Query Window makes it easy to edit XML database content directly in XMLSpy. XMLSpy_editDB2_blog Altova has built specialized capabilities for deep integration of Altova tools with the DB2 pureXML data server to help customers working with XML, XML Schema, XQuery, and other XML-related technologies. We demonstrated the XMLSpy XQuery editor, XQuery debugger and XQuery profiler, with support for executing XQuery scripts directly against the DB2 database and for the special DB2 xmlcolumn and sqlquery operators. We closed the presentation with a walk-through of the steps a user can take to migrate legacy relational data to an XML-based application, including inferring an XML Schema from relational data in a table in DB2, then importing data from the table and automatically tagging it in XML according to the new XML Schema. We have uploaded a PDF file the slides from the presentation on SlideShare. You can also get a copy at the IBM pureXML Devotees page, where you can listen to the recorded audio as well. The best way to experience for yourself how well the features of XMLSpy, MapForce, StyleVision, and DatabaseSpy work with DB2 and other databases with XML is to click here to download a free trial of the Altova MissionKit.

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Altova Adds to NIEM Support in v2010r3


Clashes between government agencies are the stuff of legends and entire TV shows: the FBI and the CIA, the local sheriff’s department and the big city CSI, Homeland Security and the Pentagon, Jack Bauer and CTU. Perhaps this has to do with the territorial nature of some of these entities, but perhaps, just perhaps, technology has a part to play in these conflicts. Incompatible architectures and data formats, legacy systems, and other technology road blocks within the United States government sometimes made it difficult for agencies to efficiently share pertinent information such as arrest reports, amber alerts, immigration details, and more.
The National Information Exchange Model (NIEM) is an XML-based standard for data exchange between United States government agencies and their information partners. It aims to provide a means for these entities to improve decision making, achieve greater operating efficiency, mitigate risk, improve public safety, and increase ROI through intergovernmental information exchange.
As a leader in XML tools and technologies, the Altova MissionKit already inherently supports NIEM on a variety of different levels. In v2010r3, we added two very specific features to XMLSpy that extend the XML editor with capabilities that are invaluable for NIEM development. For more on these features, see the recent NIEM blog post by our CEO and XML Aficionado, Alexander Falk.
Below is a brief overview of the support provided for NIEM across the MissionKit, from XML Schema editing in XMLSpy, to XMI import and UML diagramming in UModel, to data integration in MapForce, and beyond.

XMLSpy

XMLSpy® 2010 provides a graphical schema design interface which simplifies the development of XML Schemas, allowing XML code to be generated in real-time behind the scenes. Users can switch back and forth between this view and text view at any time during their design process.

The graphical schema editor provides built-in support for creating the IEPD Extension Schema, Constraint Schema, and Exchange Schema.

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In addition to the broad XML Schema support described above, XMLSpy provides comprehensive support for all other prevalent XML technologies, including:

UML Diagrams

The first stage in any development lifecycle is a thorough business requirements review. UML is particularly well-suited to modeling software projects because it provides a standardized approach to the design process. Scenario-based planning is recommended for NIEM, and though there is no UML diagram requirement, class diagrams, use-case diagrams, and sequence diagrams all provide value to IEPD documentation. In addition, NIEM provides a free tool for mapping data requirements based on an uploaded XMI representation of a UML model
UModel® 2010 is an advanced UML tool that supports all fourteen UML 2.3 diagrams, BPMN, SysML, and more. It works seamlessly with XML technologies like XMI, letting users easily import and export XMI based on their UML diagrams. UModel can even render XML Schemas in a format similar to UML diagrams and integrates seamlessly with all other MissionKit tools including XMLSpy, MapForce, and SchemaAgent. UModel also supports code generation, round-trip engineering, and reverse engineering, as well as integration with the popular Visual Studio and Eclipse IDEs.
UModel can be used two different phases of NIEM development:

  • Scenario Planning – to model and document with use case diagrams, sequence diagrams, and business process modeling
  • Map & Model – to develop class diagrams to create the exchange content model
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XML Schema Management

Because of the potential to have many different schemas in each IEPD, XML Schema management can become an arduous process. SchemaAgent® 2010 is a unique file management tool that lets users visually manage their XML Schema, XML, XSLT, and WSDL assets in a project-based environment so that changes and structure of the file configuration can be easily recognized. SchemaAgent users can even view mapping files created using MapForce.

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Data Mapping & Exchange

Data mapping is a crucial step at several levels in the NIEM process. Mapping helps users generate a subset schema to determine what elements can be used from the core and domain models, it is also used to perform a transform from one NIEM vocabulary to another. Some NIEM implementations also employ Web services to provide a mechanism for the exchange.
MapForce® 2010 is an any-to-any data mapping and integration tool that supports all of the potential data formats used in the NIEM lifecycle including XML, databases, flat files, Excel 2007+, and Web services. MapForce maps data based on its underlying structure (i.e. XML Schema), enabling mapping designs to be reused for recurrent transformations. MapForce also supports mapping to and from multiple source or target components. In addition, MapForce can be used to generate documentation detailing mapping projects for non-technical stakeholders in a variety of formats such as HTML and Microsoft® Word.

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To try out this functionality on your own, download a free 30-day trial of Altova MissionKit now!

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Start your Engines with Release 3 of the Altova MissionKit 2010!


What's New in v2010r3It’s time for another Altova product launch! Adding to the new functionality announced in February’s Release 2 of the Altova MissionKit 2010, Release 3 delivers integration with the recently available Visual Studio® 2010, support for working with NIEM and iXBRL standards, support for mapping data to/from SAP’s IDoc EDI format, and much more. Check out just a few of the highlights below and read all the details on the Altova What’s New page. Release 3 is a free update for all Altova customers with an active Support and Maintenance Package. You can also test drive a free trial that includes all these new features.

Integration with Visual Studio 2010

Multiple Altova tools have long supported seamless integration with Visual Studio, allowing you to use their complete feature set inside the VS environment to access advanced or specialized functionality not available within Visual Studio. These include :

  • XMLSpy XML editor
  • MapForce – data mapping tool
  • StyleVision – stylesheet design tool
  • UModel – advanced UML tool
  • Authentic – XML authoring tool

With Release 3, this functionality has been updated to support Visual Studio 2010, which was released by Microsoft® last month. This adds to previous support for Visual Studio 2005 and 2008.

XMLSpy 2010 Release 3

New functionality includes:

  • Ability to validate naming and coding conventions (extended schema validation)
  • User-defined sample values for XML instance generation
  • Support for Visual Studio 2010

An oft-requested feature, extended schema validation allows you to validate naming and coding conventions outside the scope of the XML Schema standard. This gives you more control over your XML architecture by allowing you to further constrain the way that elements and attributes are created and defined. An example application of this powerful feature is within the National Information Exchange Model (NIEM), though it can be used for any set of rules defined by your organization or project. Extended Schema Validation Another feature implemented based on XMLSpy customer requests is user-defined sample values for XML instance generation. While previous versions of the XML editor supported generation of XML instances using data supplied by XMLSpy, with v2010r3 you can now specify your own sample data so that the generated files will contain arbitrary results selected from pre-supplied values. These new features are very important for users working with NIEM and other standards – and you’ll only find them in XMLSpy. If you happen to be working with NIEM, be sure to read how the Altova MissionKit provides end-to-end support for NIEM, from IEPD development and planning, to the implementation of an exchange.

More R3 Highlights

Here are just a few other highlights from this most recent release across the Altova product line:

MapForce 2010r3

  • MSXML6 for C++ code gen
  • C++ generation for 64-bit systems
  • Support for mapping SAP’s iDocEDI format
  • Integration with Visual Studio 2010
  • And more

StyleVision 2010r3

  • Support for iXBRL
  • Global templates for any element
  • Integration with Visual Studio 2010

UModel 2010r3

  • Integration with Visual Studio 2010
  • Support for C# version 4.0
  • Support for protocol state machine diagrams
  • And more

DatabaseSpy 2010r3

  • Support for inserting and retrieving external files from database binary fields

DiffDog 2010r3

  • Enhancements to child-order functionality during XML-aware diff/merge comparisons

What's new in v2010r3 Check out all the new R3 features and screenshots here, and see how the Altova MissionKit can turbo charge your next development or data integration project!

Altova MapForce Brings Powerful Data Transformation Capabilities to Quark Dynamic Publishing Solution


This week Altova announced the integration of Altova MapForce, its conversion and data mapping tool, with Quark® Dynamic Publishing Solution. Through Automation Services™, a component of Quark’s dynamic publishing software, MapForce transformations translate XML into Web publishing formats, transform QuarkXPress® layouts for digital publishing, and convert XML to print pages, providing multi-channel publishers with a complete, automated XML-based publishing solution. This solution highlights two powerful features of MapForce that have demonstrated benefits to users with a wide range of data conversion needs: The MapForce visual data mapping interface supports integrating data as the source or destination in virtually any format, including XML, databases, flat files, EDI, Excel 2007+, XBRL, and Web services. MapForce includes the ability to automate data integration and repeatable business processes through an automation interface that lets developers access its advanced features programmatically. Users can also automate MapForce through the command line interface, or by using MapForce generated royalty-free code in XSLT 1.0/2.0, XQuery, Java, C++ or C#. mapforce_data_mapping_thumb “Having the ability to transform and publish data to multiple channels using an automated process helps users improve productivity and cut costs,” said Alexander Falk, President and CEO for Altova. The Altova Web site features a series of MapForce flash videos that each demonstrate a significant feature in 4 minutes or less. The Altova Online Training page offers three free MapForce self-paced training modules for Beginning, Intermediate, and Advanced data integration needs. Find out for yourself how convenient and cost-effective can be to solve your data conversion requirements. Click here to download a fully functional, free 30-day trial of Altova MapForce 2010!

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Altova MissionKit Integration with Visual Studio – On with the Show!


VisualStudioWebButton Altova products have long supported tight integration with Visual Studio, giving developers seamless access to the advanced functionality of XMLSpy, MapForce, StyleVision, and UModel directly in their preferred development environment.So naturally, the Altova team is excited to attend the launch of Visual Studio 2010 on April 12-14 at the Bellagio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, NV. We’ll be demonstrating all the latest features of the Altova MissionKit 2010 Release 2 and we’d love to meet you at booth 614 on the Exhibition floor.If you’re not headed to Las Vegas, you can read more about Altova Integration with Visual Studio at the IDE Integration page on the https://www.altova.com/. Or follow the links below for detailed information on Visual Studio integration for each tool in the MissionKit:XMLSpy 2010 Professional and Enterprise Editions support seamless integration with Visual Studio , Microsoft’s premier application development environment, where you’ll have access to all of XMLSpy’s tools and utilities for modeling, editing, transforming, and debugging XML technologies.MapForce 2010 Professional and Enterprise Editions support full Visual Studio integration, allowing you to harness the power of MapForce for data integration, Web services implementation, and C++, C#, and Java code generation directly inside Visual Studio.StyleVision 2010 Professional and Enterprise Editions are offered as Visual Studio plugins, meaning that you can easily design and implement stylesheets for simultaneous XML, XBRL, and database output to HTML, RTF, PDF, and Word 2007+ (OOXML) directly within Visual Studio.UModel 2010 Enterprise Edition now supports advanced integration with Visual Studio, including code/model synchronization, giving you access to all of its UML modeling capabilities from within Visual Studio.(Oh yes, we know Visual Studio is not the only tool for all the XML, data integration, and UML developers out there. The Altova MissionKit IDE integration modules also support Eclipse.)

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Splitting Large UML Sequence Diagrams


A new feature introduced in UModel 2010 release 2 allows you to split large sequence diagrams when you reverse engineer existing Java, C#, or Visual Basic source code. What are the advantages of splitting a sequence diagram, and how should you decide to split or not? Obviously, a single diagram makes it easy to examine in one view all the interactions that occur during the execution of a class operation. On the other hand, a large, complex diagram can be cumbersome to view, navigate, analyze, and print in a readable format. Fortunately, UModel 2010r2 makes it quick and easy to experiment. After you generate your sequence diagram, if you don’t like the results, just click the Undo button and you can create a new variation by choosing different options in the Sequence Diagram Generation dialog. Or, you can even apply the Generate Sequence Diagram feature more than once to the same class operation, and maintain multiple versions of the sequence diagram in your model. For instance, if you plan to modify the existing code, you might want to keep a permanent record of the “before” and “after” editions to document your changes. We recently adapted our analysis of a bank ATM legacy application to create two new Technical Briefs in the Reference Library section of the Altova Web site, titled Analyze a Legacy Application with Altova UModel and Enhance a Legacy Application with Altova UModel. Enhancement of the code included adding a new method called getFinalOkay directly in the original source code file for the Withdrawal class. When we completed the round trip by synchronizing our UModel project with the application code, the split version of the sequence diagram included a dedicated sub-diagram for the new method. The sub-diagram is automatically labeled with a note and hyperlinked to the main diagram. UML_sequence_diagram If you’re ready to see for yourself how a visual software model can help you work with your own legacy application, click here to download a fully-functional free trial of Altova UModel!

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XML: The Power Behind XBRL


Just yesterday my new article, “Robust XML Technologies Provide an Ideal Foundation for XBRL”, was posted on the Data Interactive blog – an excellent place to get XBRL insights from financial data and technology experts. My hope here was to underline the fact that, even though it adds a very powerful semantic layer, XBRL is still based on XML. XML lends not only the convenience of extensibility, but opens the door to a whole family of technologies including XSLT, XQuery, XPath, and more. Many of our readers are familiar with all of the power and flexibility that these languages provide – and, in fact, the widespread popularity of XML technologies means that someone in your organization probably is too. Check out the full article at http://hitachidatainteractive.com/ and let your XML developers take your data out for a test drive.

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New MapForce Online Training


If you’re not already familiar with MapForce, Altova’s award-winning graphical data integration tool, now’s the perfect time! Altova has just released a new MapForce course as part of its line of free online training modules. The new course has been completely updated with comprehensive data mapping training for beginning, intermediate, and advanced users and includes step-by-step tutorials, evaluation exercises, and a chance to work with mapping files and functions that meet a broad range of needs. data_integration_thumb So roll up your sleeves, download a free 30-day trial of MapForce, go to our training page, and get your hands dirty with some powerful visual data transformation from Altova!

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XMLSpy 2010 日本語版のご案内


XMLSpy 2010 は、バージョン 2010 の Altova 製品としては初めての日本語版製品となります。新たに日本語化された XMLSpy XML エディターは部分的に翻訳されていた既存のバージョンを置き換え、ユーザは英語ならびにドイツ語版で既に利用可能な XML に関する全ての編集、変換、そしてデバッグといったパワフルな機能を利用することができます。 XMLSpy 2010 は完全に翻訳された初めての日本語版製品となりますが、他の製品の日本語版も数か月中にリリースを予定しており、その後日本語のリファレンスマニュアルならびにウェブサイトが続くことになります。地域化サービスを社内で行うことで、日本市場に対する我々のコミットメントを示し、削減した経費を顧客に還元します。 XMLSpy 2010r2 を既にお使いのお客様は、既存のキーコードを入力することにより全ての言語のバージョンでロックの解除を行うことができます。または、30日間の無料トライアル版の XMLSpy 2010 をダウンロードすることで、バージョン 2010r2 で利用可能な全てのパワフルな機能を使用することができます。 Downlaod Japanese versions of Altova software XMLSpy バージョン 2010r2 はネイティブ64ビットへの対応を含め、多数のスピードならびにパフォーマンスの向上が図られています。100MB以上の XML ファイルを使った作業を行う場合、64ビットのオペレーティングシステムに最適化されたスピードとパフォーマンスの恩恵にあずかることができます。新しい64ビットバージョンの XMLSpy 2010 にて非常に巨大なファイルを使った作業を行う際には、マシンに搭載されているメモリの容量が唯一の制限になります。 日本語版の Altova XMLSpy 2010r2 には現在スタンダード、プロフェッショナル、そしてエンタープライズエディションが用意され、価格は149ユーロ (約18,200円) からになり、現在 Altova Online Shop または小売店を通してお求め頂けます。 Introducing XMLSpy 2010 Japanese Language Edition XMLSpy 2010 is the first product in Altova’s all-new Version 2010 Japanese product line. The new fully localized Japanese edition of the XMLSpy XML editor replaces the previous partially translated version and allows you to take advantage of the same powerful functionality available in XMLSpy’s English and German counterparts for editing, transforming, and debugging XML-related technologies. XMLSpy 2010 is the first product to be completely translated but we have plans to release Japanese language versions of our other products in the coming months, followed by Japanese reference manuals and a Japanese Web site. Our decision to bring the localizations services in-house demonstrates our commitment to the Japanese market, and allows us to pass that cost savings on to you, our customers. Current XMLSpy v2010r2 customers can now unlock any language version using your existing key code, or download a free trial of XMLSpy 2010 to begin using all of the powerful new functionality available in Version 2010r2. Download Japanese versions of Altova software XMLSpy Version 2010r2 delivers several new speed and performance enhancements, including a native 64-bit version that allows you to take advantage of the speed and performance optimizations associated with 64-bit operating systems while processing XML files that are 100 MB or larger. With the new 64-bit version of XMLSpy 2010, the only limitation for working with very large files should be the available memory on your machine. The Japanese language version of Altova XMLSpy 2010r2 is currently available in Professional and Enterprise Editions and is available for purchase now from the Altova Online Shop or through your preferred reseller.

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HL7 and XML Healthcare Data Integration at HIMSS10


Altova is kicking off the 2010 trade show season with our first participation in the annual conference of the Healthcare Information Management Systems Society (HIMSS). The HIMSS10 conference will be held on March 1-4 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta. We’re looking forward to demonstrating the functionality in XMLSpy 2010 for editing, analyzing, and validating HL7 healthcare data. We will also show how MapForce 2010 can map older EDI-based legacy healthcare records to the latest XML-based HL7 v3.x standard. The example below shows a simple MapForce mapping to update an HL7 v2.6 message to v3.x. MapForce mapping for HL7 This will be our first opportunity to demonstrate the new Altova MissionKit 2010 Release 2 with significant speed and performance enhancements across the product line. Come see the new 64-bit versions for yourself, or download a free trial today. If you are one of the expected 30,000+ attendees traveling to Atlanta for HIMSS10, stop by and see us at booth 5744. Or click here to get more information on the Altova MissionKit and HL7.

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MapForce v2010r2 New Features


2010 has already been a very busy year at Altova, with our v2010r2 release now just three days old. Continuing on the Most Wanted theme of our v2010 launch, we have added several great new features to MapForce in response to customer requests (just in case you thought we weren’t listening) – but first let’s talk a bit about 64-bit versions. MapForce, and all of the other tools in the MissionKit, are now available in 64-bit versions for the same price as the 32-bit downloads (SMP subscribers can use their current keycodes for 64-bit versions). Customers running 64-bit operating systems will now be able to take full advantage of much faster processing speeds for integrating large files (100 MB+) in MapForce. For the developers, we have also added support for external C# and Java calls in mapping transformations, so that you can get an accurate preview of your mapping in the output window. We’ve also developed a new process for adding C# and Java libraries – by simply selecting the .NET assemblies of Java class files to import. For EDI specialists, we’ve added automatic generation of X12 997 functional acknowledgement messages to confirm message receipt or relay transaction errors. clip_image002 And… for everyone else, we’ve added three new string functions: tokenize, tokenize-regexp, and tokenize-by-length. As you can see, there’s a little something for everyone here, so download a free trial of MapForce today to check it out – or, if you have SMP, take advantage of your free upgrade!

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Release 2 of the Altova MissionKit 2010


 

Release 2 of the Altova MissionKit 2010 delivers radical performance optimizations and new 64-bit product versions

  Altova 2010 Release 2We are very excited to announce Release 2 of the Altova MissionKit 2010, which includes numerous performance optimizations, new features, and native 64-bit versions across the product line.

New 64-bit Altova Tools

Release 2 of the Altova MissionKit 2010 is available in a 32-bit version as well as a new 64-bit version for users running operating systems such as Windows 7 (64-bit) and Windows Vista 64-bit. There are many advantages realized with 64-bit versions – more about these in subsequent posts – but the most significant is the reduction of limitations associated with working with XML files sized anywhere from 100 MB up to the gigabyte range. Of course, R2 is also delivered in 32-bit versions that include all of the new features described below. The 32-bit versions will run on both 32- and 64-bit operating systems. Altova 2010 Release 2For all database-enabled MissionKit tools, support for IBM® iSeries® has been extended to include the latest version, 6.1. Database users also now have the option to connect via the pure ODBC API instead of using Altova’s native support for a particular database. The native database support generally provides more functionality, but there may be instances when the user prefers the pure ODBC API. A convenient dialog offers access to either communication method. Below are just a few highlights of the new release. See full details and screenshots.

XMLSpy 2010 R2

In addition to a new 64-bit version, Release 2 of XMLSpy 2010 delivers optimizations for working with large files in Text View and Grid View, faster XML Schema-based validation, and long-awaited support for HTTPS in the SOAP client and SOAP debugger. R2 also delivers support for versioning on SharePoint® Server, so you can now read/write files on the CMS with full check out/check in functionality. SharePoint XML editor XMLSpy has long provided royalty-free code generation based on XML Schemas in Java, C#, and C++ for Windows – and with v2010r2 you can also generate C++ for use on the Linux platform.

More R2 Highlights

Adding to 64-bit versions across the product line are these new features:

  • New data processing functions and EDI mapping options in MapForce
  • Support for editable variables in Authentic forms designed in StyleVision
  • Support for the latest UML version 2.3 in UModel
  • Integration into Windows Explorer for diff/merge in DiffDog
  • Support for WSDL 2.0 in SchemaAgent
  • And much more

Check out all the details.  

Updates and Upgrades

clip_image005For customers with an active Altova Support and Maintenance Package (SMP), v2010r2 is an entirely free update. Simply download and install the latest version to have access to all the new features. When you purchase SMP with your Altova product, you get priority technical support, plus all major software versions and maintenance releases during the support period for free. It’s really a great deal.

Try Free

As always, you can evaluate any Altova product with access to full functionality for 30-days, free of charge.

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Altova XBRL Resources


In the year since the Altova MissionKit 2009 added XBRL support as a marquee feature, we have added several new technical resources for anyone starting to learn the complexities of XBRL. Many of these are uniquely focused toward our present and future customers – those who are familiar with XML and the other components that contribute to the XBRL standard, but have no hands-on experience with XBRL itself. We invite you to comb through these resources and to learn, as we have learned, how this powerful and flexible language can promote transparency and interactivity in financial reports, transactions, and internal auditing practices. · XBRL: An Overview for Technical Users – a whitepaper catered toward developers and other technical users · XBRL Training – a free, online, 5-module course that provides an introduction to XBRL technology and the MissionKit · XBRL Glossary – a comprehensive list of the technical terms that are used in describing XBRL instance documents, XBRL taxonomies, and the XBRL specification in general · XBRL Solutions Pagea brief overview of the XBRL specification and the Altova tools that support it Snap2

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StyleVision Review and Video Demo


As the XML Aficionado reported over on his blog, Dave Gash recently published an in-depth review of Altova StyleVision 2010 on the WritersUA Web site. The review provides an excellent synopsis of how the StyleVision stylesheet and electronic forms design tool works and even covers some of the exciting new features in the recently released 2010 version, including absolute positioning, electronic forms design, blue print support, and more. Gash notes that StyleVision helps take the pain out of creating XSLT stylesheets to render XML or database data:

"In a nutshell, StyleVision generates standards-conformant XSLT and XSL-FO stylesheets based on your design, enabling true single-source, multi-output, dynamic-content publishing. Believe me, that’s a neat trick if you can do it, and StyleVision can."

During the rest of the review, Gash walks through some common tasks (illustrated with screenshots) that users may accomplish using StyleVision and concludes:

"StyleVision is one of the most interesting software applications I’ve seen in years. Without question, it offers a new and unique approach to XSLT transform authoring, a skill formerly reserved for beanie-wearing, pocket-protector using, syntax-obsessing code jockeys such as your humble reviewer. It allows more of the tech pubs workforce than ever to transform raw data into aesthetic, useful pages."

Please check out the StyleVision review for all the details.

UPDATED: StyleVision Demo

To see a brief overview of the features highlighted in the review above, check out our Intro to StyleVision video demo, which has been recently updated to include new functionality in Version 2010. This three-minute video will give you a good idea of what you can accomplish with StyleVision. StyleVision Demo   And when you’re ready to test drive StyleVision for yourself, grab a free trial from our Web site.

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A Developer’s Life is Never Simple


Earlier this month in our blog post on Comparing XML Schemas we showed a realistic – but simplified – example to illustrate a slick new feature of DiffDog 2010 to compare XML Schemas and update corresponding XML data files by generating XSL transformations.
A real-life XML developer’s project is rarely as small and straightforward as the example we used. In this post we will take a look at some typical complications developers face every day and how the Altova MissionKit cuts through complexity to enhance productivity.
Longer XML Schemas and Larger Mappings
Your XML Schemas are not likely to be as short and simple as the ones in our earlier post, and you will likely want to save your work while you are mapping your XML Schema migration. DiffDog lets you save your mapping in an XML Schema comparison file that you can reload later to continue your work, or to share with a colleague.
DiffDog Save XML Schema Comparison dialog
If you need to compare two XML Schemas on a regular basis, the XML Schema Comparison Document can be a valuable time saver.
Embedded XML Schema Assignment
The screen shot below shows the XML data file from our original example with one important difference. In this version the story element includes an embedded reference to the XML Schema on line 2.
XMLSpy XML Editor view
When we transform this file with the simple XSLT we created in DiffDog, the new XML data file will not include the updated XML Schema reference. In our earlier blog post embedded XML Schema references weren’t an issue because we used the XMLSpy Project / Properties menu option to assign default XML Schemas for each folder.
If there are many XML data files to transform, and they require embedded XML Schema references, we can take advantage of an additional feature of MapForce. We can export our mapping from DiffDog to MapForce, as we did in the earlier post, and then use the Component Settings dialog for the MapForce output component to include the XML Schema reference.
MapForce Component Settings dialog
Document Your Work
Developers can lose productivity trying to retrace history when a project needs additional work months or even years after an early iteration. The MapForce Generate Documentation feature can help us avoid this frustrating experience.
MapForce will document the mapping of each element in the XML Schemas in Microsoft Word, RTF, or HTML formats. Regardless which format we choose, the resulting document is an excellent stand-alone project artifact, or it can be further edited and included in a larger report.
MapForce Generate Documentation dialog
We can even combine the MapForce mapping documentation with full descriptions of each version of the XML Schema generated with the XMLSpy XML Schema Editor documentation feature.
Source/Version Control
Source/version control systems let teams of developers work closely together on the same project without a risk of overwriting each others’ changes. Because a version of the source code is saved at each stage of the design process, it is very easy to look at or revert to an earlier version when needed.
Altova has implemented the Microsoft Source Code Control Interface (MSSCCI) v1.1 – v1.3 in XMLSpy and tested support for many popular source control systems, so we can manage the files in our XML Schema evolution project across the development enterprise. Additionally, DiffDog can be integrated with source control systems as the default comparison tool. DiffDog can even generate differences report files in a variety of formats.
See for yourself how the tools in the Altova MissionKit can cut through the complexity of your own XML, Web Services, data integration, XML publishing, XBRL, and UML modeling development projects – download a free 30-day trial!

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Curl up with a good book from the Altova library


Remember when a reference book was the only place to look up information? Today information is available at your finger tips, but there is still something to be said about turning the pages of good book. Altova products are highly regarded by authors of books focusing on XML and related technologies. Whether you need an overview of XML technologies or steps on how to transform XML files using XSLT, or want to delve into Web services, you’ll want to check out the Altova Reference Books page on our Web site.   These recently published books provide in-depth discussions on topics ranging from SOA and Web services interface design to dynamic Web application development; and many of the books include examples using XMLSpy and other tools available in the Altova MissionKit, our suite of XML, database, and UML tools.

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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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Visit Altova at DevConnections


DevConnections 2009The Altova team is gearing up for Microsoft DevConnections 2009 next week! Beginning November 10, you can find us in booth #329 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas. Want to know more about our recently released "Most Wanted" Software Version 2010? Stop by the booth for a demo of all the latest product updates. We’ll be happy to show you support for additional technologies, such as WSDL 2.0 support in XMLSpy and MapForce, JSON editing and conversion in XMLSpy, and SysML support in UModel. The new version also delivers enhanced support for technologies like XBRL, offers a completely new design paradigm that gives StyleVision users a new option for creating stylesheets and electronic forms, and much more. Viva Las Vegas!   Oh, and if you don’t happen to be attending DevConnections, you can catch us the following week at PDC in LA.

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XMLSpy’s Most Wanted


Altova's Most Wanted When we announced that Altova Software Version 2010 included over 70 of the features most requested by our customers, we weren’t talking about little tweaks and enhancements, but major new functionality! To show you we mean business, I’ll outline some of the most requested features added to XMLSpy 2010 here.

WSDL 2.0 Support

In response to requests from from Web services developers, the graphical WSDL editor in XMLSpy 2010 now supports the latest version of the WSDL standard, WSDL 2.0. This adds to existing support for WSDL 1.1, giving you the choice of which version of the standard to work with. The WSDL editor automatically provides the correct editing environment for the version currently being utilized, and XMLSpy even provides one-step conversion capabilities for migration between WSDL 1.1 and 2.0. Since the XMLSpy WSDL editor uses a graphical interface (you can, of course, also work in Text View if you wish), you can easily visualize the structure of your WSDL document and edit it using drag-and-drop functionality and context-sensitive entry helpers, which offer the relevant choices based on the selected WSDL version.

WSDL 1.1/2.0 editor

Enhanced XBRL Functionality

Since we added support for XBRL validation and XBRL taxonomy editing in XMLSpy 2009, we’ve received excellent feedback from customers, including some feature requests that we were able to address in v2010. The new XBRL documentation generation capabilities of XMLSpy 2010 make it easy to generate comprehensive documentation – in RTF, MS Word, or HTML – for your XBRL taxonomies. Multiple options let you choose exactly what to include in the documentation, and the resulting output (snippet shown below) includes hyperlinked components for easy navigation. XBRL taxonomy documentation

Another option for documentation is to print the graphical representation of your taxonomy as it is shown in XMLSpy’s graphical XBRL view. XMLSpy 2010 also includes the new XBRL Taxonomy Wizard to give you a head start when creating a taxonomy. Simply enter the company name, ticker, or other identifier for your XBRL taxonomy, and then select the base taxonomy to extend (if any).

XBRL Taxonomy Wizard

XMLSpy creates the required taxonomy files and prompts you to select the entry points of the base taxonomy. Once you click finish, XMLSpy 2010 displays the newly created XBRL taxonomy files in the graphical XBRL Taxonomy Editor, where you can continue editing and refining the taxonomy in a visual manner. The new Find in XBRL and XBRL Sort options in XMLSpy 2010 meet customers’ requests for quick, easy ways to find data in and

navigate through large, complex XBRL taxonomies.

XBRL Taxonomy Editor

JSON Editor

We’ve recently heard from a lot of developers working on Web 2.0 and Web services apps in XMLSpy who also use JSON – so we decided to add a JSON editor in XMLSpy 2010. You can compose JSON strings in Text View or Grid View, and even convert between XML and JSON. In Text View, the JSON editor provides syntax coloring, line numbering, source folding, bookmarking, and more, making it easy to comprehend and navigate your JSON code, and find and edit strings. Intelligent JSON editing populates the Elements entry helper window with a dynamically built list of the elements present in your JSON file, which you can insert with a double-click.

JSON editor text view

Intelligent JSON editing is also available in Grid View, which provides graphical representation that shows the structure / outline of a JSON document through a set of nested containers. These can be easily expanded and collapsed to get a clear picture of the document’s tree structure, and drag-and-drop editing is supported.

JSON Editor Grid / Outline View A final must-have feature for working with JSON is the JSON <=> XML converter in XMLSpy 2010. One click lets you, for example,  convert an XML file to JSON for transport with JavaScript, or convert data received in JSON format to valid XML. No more JSON vs. XML arguments – XMLSpy gives you the best of both worlds.

Redesigned Scripting Environment & Forms Editor

XMLSpy includes an integrated scripting environment and forms editor that has been redesigned for this latest release. Scripts can be written in JScript or VBScript to access and interact with the XMLSpy API, allowing you to modify and add functionality to your installation of XMLSpy 2010. Improvements and optimizations in Version 2010 include:

  • Access to most of the .NET framework
  • New form editor controls
  • Testing & debugging of macros directly in the scripting editor
  • Execution of macros directly through XMLSpy menus
  • Improved entry-helpers & auto-completion in the scripting editor

Read more about the “most wanted” features in XMLSpy and the rest of the Altova MissionKit. Please be sure to let us know your most wanted features, either by commenting here on the blog or entering a feature request.

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Altova’s Most Wanted Edition – Version 2010 Announced


Altova's Most Wanted

We are excited to have launched the MOST WANTED edition of the Altova MissionKit today! The MissionKit 2010 represents the most wanted functionality as reported by you! We’ve wrangled over 70 new features into this version of Altova’s XML, database, and UML product line to deliver on your list of demands. Check out the highlights for each product included in the MissionKit 2010 tool suite below; subsequent posts will cover the new features in each product in greater detail.

WSDL 2.0

One of the features most often asked for is support for the latest version of WSDL: WSDL 2.0. In addition to existing WSDL 1.1 editing and validation capabilities, XMLSpy now supports WSDL 2.0 in the  graphical WSDL editor. It also allows one-click conversion between WSDL 1.1 and 2.0 files. WSDL 2.0 Editor

WSDL 2.0 support has also been added to version 2010 of the MapForce data mapping tool, allowing you to connect to WSDL 2.0 (or 1.1) Web services and integrate their functionality into mappings of  XML, databases, flat file, EDI, Excel 2007, and XBRL data. You can also use MapForce to build new Web services based on WSDL 2.0 definitions. MapForce 2010 delivers a number of other enhancements for data mapping, conversion, and integration.

XBRL Enhancements

Several new features for working with XBRL have been added in version 2010. XMLSpy includes a new XBRL Taxonomy Wizard for getting a head start creating taxonomies in the graphical XBRL Taxonomy Editor. You can also now generate comprehensive documentation for your XBRL taxonomies, or simply print the graphical XBRL representation. Find and sort capabilities let you work more easily with large, complex taxonomies.

XBRL Taxonomy Editor

If you’re not familiar with the extensive support for working with XBRL in the Altova MissionKit, check out the XBRL Solutions Center page.

JSON Support

With more and more developers working with JSON in the XML, AJAX, and Web services apps they’ve created in XMLSpy, we’ve received a lot of inquires about JSON support. Now you can edit your JSON files directly in XMLSpy, using Text View or the graphical Grid / Tree View with intelligent JSON entry helpers. XMLSpy even supports one-click JSON <=> XML conversion. Check out the rest of the features most desired by XMLSpy users.

New Design Paradigm in StyleVision

The StyleVision graphical stylesheet design / single source publishing tool now gives you a new, flexible option for designing stylesheets and electronic forms. The new design paradigm lets you create templates within layout containers, and even optionally upload a blueprint image on which to base your design. This way, you can specify your design first and add XML and/or database content after.

Electronic Forms Design

This new form-based design option is made possible by new support for absolute positioning in design layouts. Instead of having content and layout elements flow on the page automatically, like a typical web page layout, you can now specify exact X and Y coordinates for each element to absolutely position it on a page. This feature gives you more control over form design in the manner of desktop publishing applications, but also adds the powerful single source publishing capabilities for XML, XBRL, and database data that have always been present in StyleVision. Read about the numerous other enhancements in StyleVision 2010. Authentic 2010 users will directly benefit from many of the new StyleVision features for true electronic forms design described above. The sophisticated e-Forms created in StyleVision 2010 are presented in Authentic’s WYSIWYG-interface for XML and database content editing by non-technical business users. In addition, with the release of Version 2010, Authentic is now offered in Enterprise and Community Editions, both of which are available as either as a desktop application or browser plug-in. The new Authentic 2010 Enterprise Edition requires a paid license and provides advanced features for WYSIWYG XML and database content editing. Authentic 2010 Browser Plug-in Enterprise Edition is offered on a 12 month license term basis. Authentic 2010 Community Edition is available under a free license and is also offered in desktop and browser plug-in versions.

SysML Support

Altova’s affordable UML modeling tool has become even more robust with support for SysML, which is related to UML but optimized for designing software to operate and control embedded systems and other complex devices. UModel 2010 supports all SysML v1.1 diagram types and elements with all the same productivity-enhancing features available for UML and BPNM modeling, including code generation in Java, C#, and Visual Basic.

SysML modeling tool

Read about all the new features in UModel 2010.

 New Diff/Merge Capabilities

Both DatabaseSpy and DiffDog have received some exciting and oft-requested new diff/merge features in version 2010. DatabaseSpy, the highly-affordable, multi-database query, design, and comparison tool now allows you to compare and merge database schemas between databases of the same type or across different database types (all major relational databases are supported). DatabaseSpy displays differences between database schemas in a graphical manner, and you can generate a change script to merge changes in either direction.

Database schema diff/merge

DatabaseSpy 2010 also adds the ability to convert database structures between different database types, for example, to migrate from MySQL® to Oracle® or SQL Server®. Version 2010 of the DiffDog diff/merge tool for files, directories, and databases includes functionality similar to DatabaseSpy for comparing and merging database schemas, and it also provides the most wanted XML Schema diff feature. Since XML Schemas are ever-evolving as requirements change, existing XML files often also need to be updated to remain valid. You can now compare two XML Schemas graphically in DiffDog 2010, and then DiffDog will generate an XSLT file to transform any related instance documents according to the new schema. Alternatively, you can choose to generate an Altova MapForce mapping file based on the DiffDog comparison to further refine the transformation

between schemas.

XML Schema Diff
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Collect your Handsome Reward

If you’re an Altova customer with active Support and Maintenance Package, simply download and install version 2010, and your existing key code will activate the new version. New customers can download a free, fully-functional 30-day trial to start working with all these new features today.

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What to Do On a Rainy Day in San Francisco?


That was the question for 30,000-plus attendees at Oracle OpenWorld 2009 last week, when weather forecasters were predicting the remnants of a Pacific typhoon would hit San Francisco with winds up to 60 miles per hour and drop rainfall measuring multiple inches. A rainy day in San Francisco Fortunately, the best attractions were all indoors. Oracle OpenWorld is one of the largest events held each year at the Moscone Convention Center. The keynote speeches, conference seminars, and partner exhibitions fill all three buildings. Even Howard Street between the North and South halls is closed for an entire block to create room for the lunch pavilion. Oracle OpenWorld is the best place to come for face-to-face education and interaction on all subjects related to every facet of the Oracle ecosystem. Altova is an Oracle Partner and this is an event we look forward to every year. The Altova MissionKit provides extensive support for database management, query, and design; database integration; database differencing; and database content editing. Altova at Oracle OpenWorld We love to meet users whose Oracle databases contain XML and show off features like support for Oracle XML DB data modeling, and the XQuery editor, debugger, and profiler in XMLSpy. We love to talk to users whose Oracle databases don’t contain XML yet, so we can demonstrate how to derive an XML Schema from the tables and relationships in a non-XML database. We also like to meet users who sometimes interact with databases other than Oracle, since the database functionality in Altova tools is never restricted to a single database technology. Due to the Oracle acquisition of Sun this year, MySQL was a popular subject. Our DatabaseSpy demo in the Altova booth highlighted simultaneous connections to Oracle and MySQL databases with interactive functionality to compare and merge data between tables in different database types. With convenient shuttle service from all the area hotels to Moscone, the question became not “What to do in the rain?”, but “What to do first?” Conference sessions covered every topic from databases to applications, to middleware, to specialized industry topics, and even XBRL. In Moscone West the Oracle Demo Grounds were always busy, with dozens of individual stations simultaneously active. The Altova booth was a popular spot, as were displays by other Oracle partners, including Amazon, Salesforce, and many more. To refresh and recharge, there were lots of fun things to do too. We even saw evidence that Paul and Ringo might have been there. They left their instruments Best yet, when we stepped outside after a long, productive day, the rain had stopped and we were presented with a warm San Francisco night. Check out our Oracle Openworld 2009 video slideshow on YouTube to see more:

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Visit Altova at Oracle OpenWorld


oracle If you’re attending Oracle OpenWorld 2009 in San Francisco this week, be sure to stop by and say hello to the Altova team at booth #3750 in Moscone West. We’d love to hear about what you’re working on and what you think of the show so far. You can also enter our raffle for a chance to win a license for one of Altova’s XML, database, and data integration tools that supports  Oracle, MySQL, and other relational databases. The XML Aficionado is attending this year and has shared some of his early impressions of the show over on his blog.   Altova-booth-Oracle

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HubKey Case Study


  Overview HubKey is a technology company offering e-commerce solutions and services to small and mid-sized organizations. Their flagship product, ILXA, is a hosted application that uses the document and workflow management capabilities of Microsoft Sharepoint, combined with the power and flexibility of Altova MapForce and XMLSpy, to deliver a scalable, end-to-end, business-to-business (B2B) solution for outsourced EDI. ILXA builds an intuitive user interface and superior content management controls and functionality around e-commerce/EDI data sources, giving customers the freedom to quickly and accurately process electronic transactions without the need for costly software and hardware systems.   The Challenge The HubKey team wanted to build a comprehensive EDI management and translation system that would give their clients the ability to track their EDI transactions across a customized workflow and also transform the messages into virtually any other data format. EDI systems are required to handle a large and constant flow of transactions going back and forth between trading partners. While the actual volume of the data being transmitted is often very small, the amount of individual communications can be overwhelming. HubKey ILXA contains the chaos of EDI automation by giving organizations the ability to view and manage tasks and processes in batches or on-the-fly. Recognizing an increasing demand for B2B integration systems that comply with both EDI and XML, HubKey decided to build a platform that had powerful support for both data formats and could generate application code to automate these translations. Complex EDI-XML and XML-EDI mappings would run behind-the-scenes, but users would be able to access these mappings, as well as the raw data, for quality assurance and error fixing.   The Solution HubKey ILXA is a hosted e-commerce solution that gives non-technical end users the ability to seamlessly manage their EDI transactions without being exposed to complex data syntax. To easily manage the document workflow, HubKey chose to build their system on top of the Sharepoint platform, creating a customizable .NET application with advanced functionality for a collaborative workflow environment. The ILXA system draws upon the versatility and quality control capabilities of XML, with EDI-XML conversion powered by Altova MapForce. The end result is sophisticated translation software combined with validation and workflow management capabilities, all in one easy-to-use system.

  • Translator – performs virtually any to any document translation for integration with backend ERP and accounting systems or trading partner requirements
  • Tasks Engine – gives users a Web-based interface through which to view and orchestrate document management tasks
  • Business Rules Engine – handles data validation, alerts, substitutions, and more through generic or specific processing rules devised by the user

1hubkey_diagram ILXA is delivered to customers in the form of a personalized, secure Web portal. Connections are easily set up between backend accounting/ERP systems (including technologies from Microsoft, Sage Software®, Exact®, and Intuit®) and member trading partners for sending and receiving messages via virtually any connectivity option (AS2, VAN, HTTP, etc.). The modularity of the ILXA system, combined with the experienced solution providers at HubKey, work together to make setting up the system a seamless process that can be implemented and up and running within 24 hours.

Translator Using the data transformation and code generation capabilities of MapForce, ILXA translates raw EDI data into XML based on generic XML Schemas (developed using Altova XMLSpy) stored on the system. Once in XML, the data becomes much more usable within the Sharepoint environment, enabling users to work easily with messages and respond to tasks. Non-technical users can create workflows, assign tasks, and send and receive messages within the ILXA interface without even seeing a line of EDI or XML code.   2hubkey_sales_order   However, if changes or adjustments need to be made, ILXA customers are given the freedom to apply these in-house using the data maps saved in the SharePoint document library. MapForce’s intuitive graphical interface enables users to redraw connections, add functions from the function library, and apply filters to the mappings. Any saved changes cause compiled code to be saved back to the system and will affect ensuing automated transformations. 3hubkey_edit_mapforce   4hubkey_mapforce_thumb   MapForce generates program code in Java, C++, and C#. HubKey opted to have code generated in C# to make it easily consumable by the Sharepoint platform. 5hubkey_c_sharp   Once the data has been translated, users can even launch XMLSpy to view and make changes directly in the XML. The generated XML displays the original EDI format in the file for an easy comparison. 6hubkey_xmlspy   Using MapForce, ILXA can also be easily configured to convert data into other EDI specifications, databases, flat files, Microsoft Excel 2007, and Web services. Tasks Engine The ILXA Tasks Engine enables users to manage advanced workflows, as well as track and resolve processing and validation errors that occur during the translation process. Users can view all of the documents in their workflow and take actions based on their status. Once an issue has been resolved, the document translation automatically resumes. 7hubkey_sales_docs   The ILXA Tasks Engine builds upon the advanced capabilities of Sharepoint to make a document management and publishing system that is ideal as an EDI/e-commerce solution. Users can easily assign, resolve, and review tasks in a secure setting based on assigned permissions and defined roles. The ability to streamline these vital business processes in one central application helps increase the quality and consistency of error-prone large-scale message translation and transmission. Business Rules Engine HubKey’s patent-pending Business Rules Engine provides customers with a powerful tool for implementing specific rules based on documents, trading partners, and/or date/time parameters. This gives organizations the ability to apply filters to transactions based on customized definitions and constraints that apply to a particular situation. 8hubkey_business_rules   The HubKey team offers its customers the option to have their business rules set up and implemented, or the training to do so in-house.

The Results ILXA breaks down the barriers to costly EDI implementation, giving organizations an affordable, flexible, and reliable alternative to fully outsourced solutions through a modern, Web-enabled, component-based application. By combining content management functionality with age-old e-commerce business process requirements, HubKey is able to offer its customers a centralized EDI management application with resources and personalized services customized to meet any level of e-commerce data expertise. Altova MapForce and XMLSpy provide the translation and XML structure behind-the-scenes, but are also available to more technical users to make adjustments and confirmations at the source. This gives HubKey the ability to offer a flexible and changeable solution to their end users, giving them the power to decide upon hands-on EDI management, or an assisted solution that still falls within their budget.   Find out how MapForce and XMLSpy can add functionality to your business applications. Download a fully functional free trial of the Altova MissionKit today!

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NYC & Company Case Study


Overview NYC & Company is the official marketing, tourism and partnership organization for the five boroughs of New York City. Its mission is to maximize travel and tourism opportunities, build economic prosperity, and spread the dynamic image of New York City around the world. In 2008-2009, the company initiated a major rebranding, redefining their Web presence and launching an interactive multi-media center in Midtown Manhattan. At the center of this transformation, NYC & Company used development tools from the Altova MissionKit – UModel, DiffDog, DatabaseSpy, and XMLSpy. The NYC & Company Web site and Information Center was created together with online powerhouses as Google and Travelocity, reservation sites like Open Table, content providers Time Out, Greenopia.com, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, and more. The Challenge As the single organization responsible for meeting the marketing and tourism needs of the city of New York, NYC & Company has been tasked with meeting Mayor Bloomberg’s January 2006 State of the City goal of luring 50 million visitors by the year 2015 – up from an estimated 43 million in 2006. A large part of the effort behind this push would be manifested in a general Web site rebrand/redesign coupled with the creation of an interactive visitor center. NYC & Company chose to use existing tools and technologies as much as possible, leveraging their ColdFusion Web site architecture, the Eclipse software development platform, a SQL Server 2005 backend, and the Altova MissionKit. A new content management system was also implemented to manage the large amounts of data and associated workflow. The Solution The NYC & Company Web site redesign included a migration from nycvisit.com, which followed a typical convention and visitor bureau site structure, to the much more animated and multi-faceted nycgo.com, a design that promotes the dynamic nature of the resources available and of the city itself. clip_image001 nycvisit.com on 26 February 2008 clip_image003 nycgo.com on 22 May 2009 UML Modeling The new design components were drawn out as a UML class diagram, expanding on the data model that was created for the live Web site. NYC & Company used Altova UModel to map out the physical structure of nycgo.com, importing their XML Schema definition to ensure adherence to formatting rules. The class diagram was used to represent the new Web site structure at a high level, and to model the objects that needed to be built into NYC & Company’s content management system (CMS). UML design in UModel also enabled the company to generate documentation so that the developers could share the UI design with those not familiar with the intricacies of UML. clip_image004 UModel UML Class Diagram of the nycgo Web site NYC & Company then worked with third party design vendor, HUGE, Inc., to further analyze the UML wire frames and predict user interaction scenarios for the nycgo Web site. Dynamic code was then delivered in JSP, implemented on JRun then subsequently converted to ColdFusion. Code Differencing NYC & Company chose to migrate their JSP templates to ColdFusion 8 for its rapid application development capabilities, rich feature set, and intrinsic simplicity. DiffDog, Altova’s diff/merge tool, was an integral part of the development process, helping the development team to ensure that the ColdFusion code was in line with the original JSP. NYC & Company could easily recognize and reconcile any crucial differences using DiffDog’s straightforward text comparison interface. diffdog2 JSP/CFM code differencing in DiffDog Database Migration As part of their rebranding effort, NYC & Company successfully migrated their data from SQL Server 2000 to SQL Server 2005. NYC & Company used Altova DatabaseSpy to connect to the database, structure queries, and for database analysis. They also use the integrated SQL Editor to test their more complex SQL queries. This enabled them to do their database management and testing in-house, with non-technical and even non-DBA team members assembling complex SQL scripts with features such as auto-completion, syntax color coding, automatic formatting, and refactoring. Building Out the Content Management System NYC & Company used a third party CMS to manage workflow and collaboration for newly designed the Web site. The CMS was also modified to output XML feeds. Additionally, content sourced from NYC & Company’s partners was validated against an XML Schema and then imported into the CMS. Every night, a scheduled task is initiated that delivers the formatted XML feeds to the interactive data center. XMLSpy, Altova’s XML editor, provides NYC & Company with all of its XML editing needs – from validating and saving content, to managing and manipulating it as part of an integrated workflow. Real-time XML Feeds The XML feeds that are available on the nycgo Web site, and the interactive wall kiosks and tables at the Information Center are taken from data submitted by NYC & Company’s numerous content partners and provide real-time information about attractions and events all around the city. Once accessed, the information can be transferred to any mobile device via SMS. The walls display touch-screen FAQ stations that inform visitors about top New York City attractions and provide other useful information like how to tip a doorman, places to exchange currency, etc. in English and nine other languages. Users can also buy MetroCards and tickets to exhibits and other popular events. ONIC-launch-007 The same real-time data is also fed to interactive tables, where visitors place a “puck” on a Google map of the city to select their area of interest. They then click on a category (e.g., dining, entertainment, etc.) to get more information. clip_image010 The Results NYC & Company offers the latest in travel and tourism to New York City’s visitors, which number well over 40 million in any given year and offers a wealth of new experiences and up-to-date information to adventurous locals. The innovative new Web site design and interactive exploration center pulls together the latest in hardware, software, and data management technologies to showcase every aspect of this multi-faceted city to tourists from all walks of life and with all sorts of interests. NYC & Company was able to leverage the Altova MissionKit to manage large amounts of disparate data from a variety of different sources -from the preliminary UML modeling, to code differencing, database management, and XML editing. Find out how the Altova MissionKit can help with the end-to-end management of all of your data assets. Download a fully functional free trial of the Altova MissionKit today!

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New Online Training – XMLSpy XML Editor


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:   xmlspy-training   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.

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XML & Digital Textbooks


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!

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Recent Industry Awards


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. sd_times2009 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.” VSM_ReadersMerit_2009 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!

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Altova's Commitment to Renewable Energy


EPA-Green-Power-Partner 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 Wind farmWienstrom 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.

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XBRL Glossary


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 hypercube has, at least in the context of XBRL, nothing to do with it.

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New XBRL Video


We recently posted a new, five-minute XBRL Overview video on YouTube! Please check it out and let us know what you think!  

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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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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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Java Utopia


Java-powered robots, Java mobile phone apps, Java in the cloud, Java running Neil Young’s ’59 Lincoln, a new T-shirt, and photos with Duke! It can only mean the annual pilgrimage to the Moscone Center in San Francisco for JavaOne. XMLSpy and MapForce feature Java code generation and UModel can both generate and reverse engineer Java code. Of course you can use all the Java code you generate with Altova tools royalty free! Check out this YouTube video:

to see and hear a few highlights of JavaOne 2009 and Altova’s presence there.You can also click here to see an interview with Altova’s Technical Marketing Manager filmed at JavaOne by TechTarget.

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Wrycan / NAVSEA Case Study



Overview

The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine, is a division of Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA), the largest of the United States Navy’s five systems commands. They approached Wrycan, an Altova partner focused on content-centric XML expertise, for help converting some of their legacy format technical manuals to XML based on the Navy ETM XML DTD and recreating them as PDFs. The shipyard had been given a mandate to start utilizing XML as their primary data and storage format and needed a low cost and reliable publishing solution that could be easily maintained by their in-house workforce. Wrycan had some experience working with the Altova MissionKit for XML development, as well as a broad expertise in XML technologies including XML, XSL:FO, and DTD. They chose to use XMLSpy, StyleVision, and Authentic as the development tools for this implementation because of their intuitiveness, ease-of-use, and low price tag.

The Challenge

The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard needed to convert about 10,000 pages of content from a legacy format into XML that was conformant to their DTD. This included an automated conversion, manual review and cleanup, and a command line tool to publish the XML back into its original PDF format. As with any large publishing and conversion operation, the project required heavy QA review post-conversion, much of which could be done by non-technical shipyard employees if they had a mechanism to help them interpret and access the XML markup. In addition, because of the relative complexity of the documentation format, which included complicated page layout details such as a variable number of columns per page and different margin widths, callouts interspersed with sections and enumerated lists, as well as many large schematic models, some of which were on foldout pages, the XSL:FO coding promised to present a formidable challenge.

The Solution

Wrycan performed the bulk of the content conversion in-house using custom scripts and some manual processes, along with some technical QA. After the content was converted, Wrycan used StyleVision’s drag and drop design interface to create Authentic e-Forms for editing using the Navy ETM XML DTD as the structural component. Advanced stylesheet functions such as conditional templates and auto-calculations were inserted to facilitate QA and editing workflows. navsea_design After the content conversion, Wrycan implemented a command line processing tool that includes multiple steps such as:

  • Volume assembly from chunks of XML files
    For greater flexibility and usability, the Navy technical manuals were divided up into sections including Front Matter, Chapters, Back Matter, and image files. This enabled Wrycan to make certain parts of these files available for reuse. Components that appeared identically in more than one place within the manuals could be segmented so that changes made in one place would iterate throughout the documentation.
  • XML to XSL-FO conversion
    Wrycan used XMLSpy, Altova’s full-featured XML editor , to hand-code the advanced XSL:FO that was needed for the manuals. The complexity of the XML and PDF output can be seen in the following examples: Volume source, Front Matter source, Chapter source, and Final document (3.8 MB PDF).
  • Custom page formatting
    This project required various page sizes within one document, such as a portrait page followed by a foldout 11″ x 17″ landscape page. There are Naval documentation requirements specifying that different page formats have different printing requirements. For example, foldout pages are printed on one side only while other pages are double-sided.
  • Post processing steps
    There were also page numbering requirements, such as every chapter must start on an odd numbered page. If this causes a page to be blank, a message indicating that the page was intentionally left blank is placed on the page. These requirements are automatically satisfied by Wrycan’s processing tool.
  • PDF creation
    Wrycan integrated RenderX’s XEP software into the processing pipeline to convert the XSL:FO output, including all images and common content, into one PDF file.

The editing of the content is done with Authentic via Stylevision, which was recently upgraded to the most recent release for more advanced table support and authoring options. Below is a sample screenshot of one of the Authentic e-Forms for WYSIWYG XML editing that was generated for NAVSEA based on the StyleVision stylesheet design. navsea_doc

The Results

The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard now has an XML publishing solution with native XML editing capabilities. They can reproduce their technical manuals in PDF using XML as the content source. They are now ready to move onto the next step, which is implementing a full scale content management system with workflow and custom publishing capabilities. Find out how Altova tools can help with your documentation and publishing challenges. Download a fully functional free trial of the Altova MissionKit today!

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