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New Case Study: Automating XBRL Data Collection and Processing


Case studies are a great way to see how other organizations use Altova® technologies to develop unique projects that meet their business goals. We’re often asked, however, what comes next. Did the project take off? Has it grown since the case study was published?

We’re happy to bring you a follow up to a case study we published last year about the not-for-profit Maryland Association of Certified Public Accountants (MACPA).
In the original case study, MACPA converted General Ledger and other financial data from siloed systems into XBRL – in house and on a budget – with the Altova MissionKit®. At that point, they were mapping the XBRL file to multiple external targets, including an Excel spreadsheet used to feed their Key Performance Indicators (KPI) system. (You can read the original XBRL case study here.)

Since that time, they’ve built on the foundation they created and developed a business intelligence dashboard driven by the XBRL files they generate in MapForce®. They used Altova FlowForce®, an application designed to automate the execution of MapForce data transformations and other tasks on servers, virtual machines, and workstations, to automate the XBRL data collection and processing. Now the most recent data is available across the entire organization for custom reporting.

You can read the follow-up to the original XBRL case study here.

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Read more about how they did it. Read more…

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The Maryland Association of Certified Public Accountants (MACPA) transforms data to XBRL in-house


What is XBRL and how can it help your organization? Members of the Maryland Association of CPAs (MACPA) found out how using the interactive XBRL (Extensible Business Reporting Language) format can help not only larger, public companies, but also smaller, non-profit organizations like themselves.clip_image004 MACPA invested in the Altova MissionKit tool suite to support their XBRL project. Using our XMLSpy XML editor; MapForce, our graphical data mapping, conversion, and integration tool; and the StyleVision visual stylesheet and report design tool, MACPA was able develop a comprehensive system that employs XBRL data for a variety of reporting functions, both internal and external.
For example, MACPA used the generated instance document from MapForce to populate their financial Key Performance Indicator (KPI) system, significantly reducing the amount of time and effort required to prepare the KPI documentation. XMLSpy was used to extend the US-GAAP taxonomy to accommodate entries specific to MACPA. clip_image002 MapForce also came in handy for mapping the Global Ledger (GL) Taxonomy to the extended GAAP taxonomy. clip_image004 As a result, MACPA has increased its working knowledge of XBRL, automated previously burdensome data collection and transformation tasks, and have gained more insight into their financial data. To read more about how MACPA utilized the Altova MissionKit to convert all their financial data to XBRL and create a model for public and private business of any size to leverage the powers of XBRL, the latest case study from Altova is a must read! Do you have a story to tell about your use of Altova tools? If so, we want to hear from you. Case studies generate great publicity. Check out recent press coverage from the MACPA case study. Plus, if we choose to use your story you will receive a $200 Amazon gift card!

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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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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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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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Altova customer Recordare builds MusicXML-based solution


Case Studies

Recordare® is a technology company focused on providing software and services to the musical community. Their flagship products, the Dolet® plugin family, are platform-independent plugins for popular music notation programs, facilitating the seamless exchange and interaction of sheet music data files by leveraging MusicXML. Dolet acts as a high quality translator between the MusicXML data format and other applications, enabling users to work with these files on any conceivable system, including industry leading notation and musical composition applications Finale® and Sibelius®. The list of MusicXML adopters also includes optical scanning utilities like SharpEye or capella-scan, music sequencers like Cubase, and beyond. Dolet increases the MusicXML support in all of these programs and promotes interoperability and the sharing of musical scores. In creating the Dolet plugins, Recordare used Altova’s XML editor, XMLSpy, for editing and testing the necessary MusicXML XML Schemas and DTDs, and the diff/merge tool, DiffDog, for regression testing.

The Challenge

Music interchange between applications had traditionally been executed using the MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) file format, a message transfer protocol that has its roots in electronic music. MIDI is not an ideal transfer format for printed music, because it does not take into account the multitude of notations (e.g., rests, repeats, dynamics, lyrics, slurs, tempo marks, etc.) that convey much of the meaning. MusicXML is an open, XML-based file format specifically created to encapsulate musical notation or digital sheet music data that was built on top of previous formats, MuseData and Humdrum. XML lends MusicXML the power and flexibility to be easily accessed, parsed, rendered, and otherwise manipulated by a wide variety of automated tools, and its general acceptance as a standard makes it an ideal format for scoring using computer technology. Since its original release by Recordare in January of 2004 (version 2.0 was released in June 2007), MusicXML has gained acceptance in the music notation industry with support in over 100 leading products, and is recognized as the de facto XML standard for music notation interchange. These products would not have adopted MusicXML unless it could be used to exchange data with industry-leading applications like Finale and Sibelius. By developing advanced plugins for popular music notation suites, Recordare would be able to deliver to their customers all of the advantages that XML can bring for data exchange and standardization.

The Solution

Below is an example showing the score of the first few measures of Beethoven’s An die ferne Geliebte, Op. 98 as it is written in sheet music: and a small snippet of the same piece translated to MusicXML: The MusicXML-based Dolet 4 plugins for Finale and Sibelius provide a more accurate and usable representation of sheet music than Standard MIDI translation. For example, the images below show the same piece of music. On the left is a Finale 2009 rendering of a MIDI file exported from Sibelius, and on the right is the same application’s interpretation of a MusicXML 2.0 file exported from the same version of Sibelius.
In the MIDI rendition, vital information like chord symbols, lyrics, slurs, articulations, and even title and composer are omitted from the translation. In addition to providing native support for MusicXML, the recently released Dolet 4 for Finale and Dolet 4 for Sibelius plugins enhance the capabilities of these programs by adding advanced features like:

  • Batch translation
  • More accurate and reliable data exchange
  • More formatting control
  • Support for the MusicXML XML Schema (in addition to the DTD)

In developing the plugins, Recordare was subject to specific requirements dictated by the Sibelius and Finale applications. The Sibelius plugin was programmed in ManuScript, and is one of the largest plugins ever written in that language. Finale, on the other hand, requires plugins to have a C++ core, and Recordare implemented this, adding MusicXML logic in Java and a JNI layer to provide the two-way Java/C++ communication. Recordare’s Dolet plugins are now critical aspects of the music preparation process for many television and film scores as well as new music publications. Errors in translation need to be fixed in maintenance updates, while ensuring that no new errors are introduced into these complex translation plugins. Regression testing of the MusicXML file produced by the Dolet plugins is thus an essential part of Recordare’s quality assurance process. Recordare used Altova’s DiffDog in the development of the Dolet plugins. XMLSpy was used to test and edit their DTDs and XML Schemas, and DiffDog for regression testing the MusicXML files produced by the software. Recordare has several regression test suites covering a wide range of musical repertoire, from baroque to hip-hop. DiffDog allows easy differencing of multiple runs of these test suites, including the ability to ignore differences in XML metadata elements such as software version and XML creation date that always change across test cases. Recordare has used Altova’s XMLSpy XML editor to edit the MusicXML DTDs and XML Schemas, starting with the use of XMLSpy 3.5 (released in 2001) to create the earliest alpha and beta versions of the MusicXML DTD. Version 2.0 of MusicXML added a compressed zip version of the format, similar to what is used in other XML applications like Open Office and Open XML. XMLSpy 2008 Enterprise Edition’s comprehensive support for zipped XML files made it easy to test this new feature together with the Dolet for Finale plugin.

A small portion of the extensive MusicXML schema shown in XMLSpy’s graphical XML schema editor

XMLSpy’s support for XQuery has also contributed to Recordare’s regression testing efforts. In response to a customer request, Recordare now exports XML processing instructions from the Dolet for Sibelius plugin when it encounters a musical feature that it is unable to translate correctly. A simple XQuery execution to search for all the processing instructions in the XML files in a given folder lets Recordare check for the presence of these restrictions within each test suite, and then compare the resulting XML files using DiffDog between runs of the test suite. Recently, customer demand led Recordare to develop an XSD version of the MusicXML format. XMLSpy Enterprise Edition was used to develop and test the schemas. Schema validation, schema restriction and extension, and automatically-generated schema documentation were all able to be tested using XMLSpy’s features.

The Results

The Dolet plugins are extensions for common industry software that harness the built-in capabilities of the MusicXML format to make musical scores truly interchangeable across disparate systems and toolsets. These plugins have the capacity to render accurate and meaningful musical notation based on the powerful MusicXML specification. The leading XML Schema editing capabilities in XMLSpy and the strong XML and directory differencing support in DiffDog enabled Recordare to write and polish the MusicXML schemas and perform regression testing on the Dolet plugins. The resulting high quality of the schemas and software has made MusicXML and the Dolet plugins a key element of the toolkit for composers, arrangers, publishers, copyists, and engravers throughout the industry wherever printed music is used. Try XMLSpy, DiffDog, and the other Altova MissionKit tools for yourself with a free 30-day trial.

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