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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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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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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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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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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 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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