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It’s Here – the Industry’s First Truly Portable XML Form


Hopefully by now you’ve downloaded the 2011r3 versions of the Altova product line released last week. We’ve introduced a bunch of new features and functionalities that put even more power into the hands of IT professionals. (Note: If you haven’t already done so, you can download the latest versions of all of the tools in the Altova product suite from our Web site.)clip_image004One of the features we’re most excited about is the new Portable XML Form (PXF) file for StyleVision and Authentic. The PXF is a file into which all elements required to support a StyleVision design including XML Schemas, database connections, images, etc. can be embedded. Imagine the possibilities! In this post we’ll take an in-depth look at the PXF file format as well as some use cases.

When you create a design in StyleVision and then save it as a PXF file, all design elements including XML Schema and instance documents, SPS design files, XSLT, images, and other external files are embedded in the PXF. The PXF file can be transported, downloaded, copied, and saved like any other data file, meaning that developers no longer have to send or install multiple files to support a design. This is especially useful for integrating Authentic electronic forms into your projects – and consequently great news for business users. Authentic electronic forms created in StyleVision allow business users to edit databases and XML files without wrangling with database and XML syntax. The PXF file makes developing – and using – these forms even easier. Take, for example, the bane of many a business traveler’s existence – the expense report. Fortunately for the IT professional using Altova tools the expense report is a snap – a developer can create an eye-catching report that meets the business needs of the client by taking advantage of StyleVision’s many design capabilities. clip_image002 Once the design is complete, creating a PXF file is as easy as selecting Save As and toggling the Save as PXF file radio button. clip_image003 When prompted to select files to embed in the PXF, remember to check the output formats that end users will be able to publish content in. clip_image004 With all design elements now embedded in the PXF file, you can distribute the form easily and efficiently.

  • Is the expense form going to be integrated into a larger project? Send the PXF file to the development lead, who will be delighted at receiving a single file rather than a bunch of individual files.
  • Do business users need to access the expense form online? Rather than saving the XML Schema, instance documents, SPS, images, etc., to the server separately, simply put the PXF file on the server – everything needed to deploy the design is in the PXF.
  • Ready for QA to test it? Email the PXF to the team. They will be able to deploy it simply by opening the PXF in Authentic, just as a business user would. The schema is embedded in the PXF so you can rest assured that XML and database content is being edited and updated appropriately.
  • Are you dealing directly with the end user? Email the PXF to him – the Authentic Community Edition is free and easy to install so a business user can distribute the form and all associated files and data to relevant stakeholders across the organization.

The PXF is a boon to business users as well as developers. Depending on how you deploy the expense report, business users can access it via Authentic Desktop or in their browser with the Authentic Browser Plug-in. As he would with any Authentic form, an end user simply opens the PXF file in Authentic Desktop and can immediately begin editing or adding data. The associated XML file or database is updated automatically to reflect the changes. End users accessing an Authentic form via the Authentic Browser Plug-in likewise update XML and database data by entering and editing information in the form. clip_image005 The value of the PXF for end users is the same as for the developer – portability. Because the PXF file contains all of the files necessary to support the Authentic form, including the instance document, the business user can enter his expense data, resave the file, and then send the PXF to the accounting department. He can even email the PXF directly from the application. clip_image006 The PXF file also provides business users with the ability to publish content in multiple output formats. In our example the developer clicked HTML, RTF, PDF, and Word 2007+ in the Configure Portable XML Form (PXF) dialog box. A business user can instantly create an output document in each of these formats by clicking one of the output buttons on the menu bar. clip_image007 Here we’ve clicked the PDF button, generating a document that a business traveler can mail to the corporate office, keep for his records, etc. clip_image008 Although the portability afforded by the PXF significantly increases the value of electronic forms by simplifying the process of getting critical business data into XML, Authentic forms in general are an easy sell to business users. In addition to comprehensive editing capabilities, Authentic enhances the business value of electronic forms through features that include real-time validation of input data, industry standard XML templates, project management support, and dynamic layout based on user input. In addition to all of the functionality and editing capabilities Authentic offers, the application can compete on price – the Authentic Community Edition is free. We hope that you are as intrigued by the possibilities offered by PXF as we are. By providing developers an easy way to integrate electronic forms into their projects and a simple (and free) way for business users to distribute and publish information, PXF could radically transform the process of creating and editing XML and database content. This is a truly exciting prospect. For those of you not yet using our tools, this is a perfect time to give them a try. Click here to download free, fully functional trial versions of our software. They’re good for 30 days!

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Have you used the PXF form yet? How did you use it? Please share your story with other Altova users by commenting on this blog post. Think it would make a great case study? Email us at marketing@altova.com. We’d love to hear from you!

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Release 2 of Altova Software Version 2011


clip_image001We’re pleased to announce the availability of Release 2 of Altova’s 2011 product line, which adds numerous new features to our entire MissionKit tool suite, as well as all standalone products. Even though it’s been just five short months since Version 2011 was announced, Release 2 packs a formidable punch, delivering innovative new features to meet customer requests and provide the unique, advanced functionality you’ve come to expect in the award winning MissionKit. Below are a few details on Release 2 of the Altova MissionKit 2011. For complete information and screenshots, click over to the Altova What’s New page. Subsequent posts over the next few weeks will cover each product and each feature in more detail. Advanced Chart and Report Creation The new functionality added in the MissionKit 2011 for creating charts and reports to analyze database, XML, XBRL, and other types of data received some important updates in Release 2, including new chart types, new formatting options, and more. New chart types add to the long list already available and include area charts, stacked area charts, candlestick charts, and more. You can add even more advanced formatting options to your charts now, using background images, color gradients, and variable axis label positions, as shown in the stacked area chart below. Area chart with background image R2 also adds support for chart overlays, which combine two disparate sets of data in one chart, as shown below. This example combines a candlestick chart of a stock’s daily prices with the daily sales volume indicted using a bar chart. XML candlestick chart with bar chart overlay These new charting and reporting tools add to those already available in XMLSpy, StyleVision, and DatabaseSpy, providing multiple opportunities to visualize, analyze, and report business data in innovative ways. Other v2011r2 Highlights R2 includes a lot more than just new chart and report creation features. We’ve got some great new tools for XML Schema editing in XMLSpy, as well as fully customizable documentation generation for XML Schema, WSDL, and XBRL via StyleVision integration. MapForce provides several enhancements for data mapping, such as enhanced ETL performance through data streaming, support for the IATA PADIS EDI format, and more. StyleVision now supports barcodes and other new tools for advanced report creation and publishing. BPMN support in UModel has been updated to the latest version, 2.0, and you can also now generate code from State Machine UML diagrams. And finally, just when you thought the DiffDog diff/merge tool couldn’t be any cooler, we’ve added full support for comparing and merging Microsoft® Word docs (yes, it’s actually easy to use). Diff/merge for Word documents   All these new features are expanded on here and will also be covered at length in upcoming blog posts. Make sure you are subscribed to the blog or our Facebook page, and do check back often for updates!

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August MissionKit Special – Upgrade Now and Save!


Get one year SMP FREE when you upgrade to the Altova MissionKit! Upgrade Now and Save! For a limited time*, we are offering our current customers the opportunity to get one full year of Support & Maintenance free when they upgrade their individual software product license(s) to the MissionKit tool suite. This represents a potential savings of hundreds or even thousands on Support and Maintenance! The MissionKit brings together innovative tools and standards-based technologies in a comprehensive package that every enterprise architect and application developer needs to complete their software development arsenal.

  • XML development
  • Web & Web services development
  • Data mapping & integration
  • Rendering & publishing XML, XBRL, and database data
  • Database query, design, and comparison
  • UML modeling
  • Data/code differencing and merging
  • Code generation
  • Automation through APIs, ActiveX controls, or command line
  • Visual Studio & Eclipse integration

Take advantage of this exciting offer to upgrade to the MissionKit today – it expires on August 31, 2010!*

SMP includes:

Free Software Updates You will receive all maintenance releases and major software versions that are released during your support period – including v2011 as soon as it ships this autumn. Updates that you receive cover the specific edition of the product that you have purchased and typically include many additional features. Priority Technical Support We are extremely proud of our high quality technical support; here are just a few actual customer comments about our excellent support team. “Thanks again for the quick reply. You guys have the fastest response time and in my opinion among the best customer/technical support I have dealt with.”– Sacha Korell, Cobham, plc. “Thank you for the clear explanation and rapid response. Altova provided an excellent customer service for an excellent product.” – Ray Burrows, Ensign Energy Services, Inc. “Working with Altova Support has been my best support experience in my professional life. I really appreciate the way you have understood my obstacles and used your time to remove them. Thank you!” – Frode Reinertsen, NetCom GSM * This limited offer expires on August 31, 2010 and is available from Altova GmbH and its licensed distributors and resellers. The twelve (12) or twenty-four (24) month Support Period for the MissionKit SMP commences on the date that the upgrade order is received and replaces any existing SMP Support Period then in effect for the upgraded licenses. Pricing will automatically reflect that 12 months of the Support Period are at no cost.

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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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New Table Design in StyleVision


v2009 brought a lot of exciting new features to StyleVision, Altova’s graphical stylesheet design tool. Some, like an all-new design for tables and XPath filtering, are welcome byproducts of our support for XBRL and XBRL Dimensions, but still have far reaching uses for working with XML and databases. Let’s take a quick look at StyleVision’s new table design to illustrate what I’m talking about. stylevision_tables If you’re already a seasoned StyleVision user, it’s probably already obvious to you that we’ve changed things up a bit. You can now very easily select entire columns or rows for editing. Rearrange, delete, add styles, and even resize using the drag and drop UI or common Windows shortcuts on your keyboard. Of course, any of the designs that you’ve created in a previous version of StyleVision will inherit this functionality as well. For any of you not familiar with StyleVision, it is an award-winning stylesheet design tool and report builder with support for XML, database, and XBRL source content. Using the drag and drop GUI and style entry helpers, you create reusable design templates for output to HTML, RTF, PDF, Word 2007 (OOXML), and Authentic e-Forms. If you chose to take advantage of the cost savings in the Altova MissionKit, you will find that you already have StyleVision on your hard drive and just need to open it up for a test drive. Visit the new features index to view all of the functionality that has been added to StyleVision since your last upgrade or download a free trial of StyleVision 2009 today!

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What's New…To Me?


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

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

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