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Case Study: Wrycan, Fitz & Floyd, MarketLive


wrycan Fitz and Floyd is a leader in design and manufacture of hand painted ceramic gift ware. In 2007, they approached Wrycan, an Altova partner focused on content-centric XML expertise and related software development, for help creating a solution that would allow Fitz and Floyd to interface their existing CRM system to their new Web-based storefront application from MarketLive, the leader in e-commerce software solutions. Fitz and Floyd had already purchased a license for the Altova MissionKit software suite, so Wrycan was able to jump right in and start mapping data from Fitz and Floyd’s Oracle database to MarketLive’s proprietary schema using Altova MapForce. Wrycan assigned the project to a Principal Consultant, who had plenty of previous experience with XML technologies (including XSLT and XML Schema) as well as with large-scale databases, but who had never before used MapForce, Altova’s data conversion, transformation, and integration tool.

The Challenge

Fitz and Floyd required a solution that would automatically synchronize data from their Oracle database to MarketLive’s storefront application. It needed to perform the following functions: inventory updates, product updates, and order status updates. This way, when a customer ordered a Fitz and Floyd product via the MarketLive interface, they would be getting real-time information about the company’s inventory. The solution needed to be simple to use, easy to maintain, cost effective, and completed on time, so they could put their new storefront into production promptly. Fitz and Floyd’s existing data was housed in an Oracle 8.0.5 database and was organized according to internal requirements. In order to transform their data into a format that would work with MarketLive’s storefront application, Fitz and Floyd’s data needed to be mapped to MarketLive’s XML Schema. In addition, there needed to be a system in place to track and log any transaction errors that occurred.

The Solution

Because of MapForce’s ease-of-use, the Principal Consultant was able to get started using its intuitive features right away. Wrycan used MapForce to map the transformation from Fitz and Floyd’s Oracle database to the XML Schema definition (XSD) instance provided by MarketLive. Using the database as the source component and the XSD as the target, the following mapping was produced: MapForce mapping transparent In order to map to some XML Schema entities that were not explicitly defined in the original MarketLive schema, Wrycan used Altova XMLSpy’s graphical XML Schema editor to fill in the gaps, adding attributes to the schema that had not previously existed and thus ensuring that all necessary Fitz and Floyd data would be mapped to the MarketLive Web interface. An example of the schema modifications is shown below: XML Schema modifications Wrycan used MapForce’s unique code generation capabilities to automatically produce a Java applet that was used to update Fitz and Floyd’s product, inventory, shipping, and order status information programmatically. This specialized applet was then packaged along with Wrycan’s proprietary Transaction Manager. MapForce made it very easy to update and redeploy the data mapping requirements as they changed throughout the project. Because of MapForce’s ease of use and built-in code-generation capabilities, less technical users can also update the data mapping when there are changes.

Simple Web-based Transaction Manager

Utilizing open source Java technologies such as Apache Tomcat and Quartz Enterprise Job Scheduler, Wrycan was able to create a simple transaction manager that allowed the transactions handled by the MapForce-generated, Java-based data integration applet to be scheduled, processed, and logged. The Transaction Manager is a custom software application made specifically for Fitz and Floyd by Wrycan, but built in such a way that it can be reused for future clients. It consists of several components:

  • User interface – allows the integration of MapForce-generated Java code
  • FTP interface – adds the ability for files to be downloaded for transformation from Oracle database format to the eCommerce platform XML format or vice versa
  • Scheduler – allows the automation of the data migration
  • Reporter – stores transaction results in XML files accessible in the user interface and also has the ability send emails in case of exceptions

The Transaction Manager’s user interface is the point of contact for Fitz and Floyd to control and schedule any data transformations. Because Wrycan wanted to be able to reuse the Transaction Manager, they chose to generate the MapForce code in Java, a platform-independent programming language. (MapForce can also generate application source code in C# and C++.) This code is an integral part of the Transaction Manager, as it dictates the data mapping process, allowing Fitz and Floyd’s internal information to be accessed via the MarketLive interface. The FTP interface is a simple way to manage the transfer and delivery of files from within the Transaction Manager once the MapForce-generated Java applet has transformed the data according to the MarketLive schema. A built-in batch scheduler allows Fitz and Floyd to automate the data migration operations by content type (i.e. order, inventory, product, etc.). Batch jobs The reporting component allows the result of each transaction to be logged in XML. Because of this, if any transaction errors occurred, Wrycan was able to use Altova XMLSpy to analyze and debug the issues.

The Results

Fitz and Floyd now has an easy to use data integration layer that is extensible by adding new MapForce transformations, and they can easily adjust their current transactions. Any updates made to the Fitz and Floyd Oracle database are automatically transferred to the MarketLive application in a format that it can readily understand. Log Details Because the Transaction Manager application is based on platform-independent Java code (generated by MapForce), Wrycan also has a reusable application that can be used as an asset by any online retail company. Wrycan is now able to approach potential clients with a proven data integration layer product that provides job scheduling, email notification, and FTP integration and can utilize any database or schema output via a custom Altova MapForce transformation. When speaking about this project, Dan Ochs, the principal consultant at Wrycan involved with the Fitz and Floyd application stated “MapForce has proven to be an easy-to-use, effective tool for making the data integration and mapping process much easier and faster to implement.” This and many other customer case studies involving Altova solutions are available in the Altova library.

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Altova at TechEd


Microsoft TechEd 2008 is presently underway in Orlando, FL, and this year the show has been split into two separate events: TechEd for Developers is coming to an end tomorrow, and next week we have TechEd for IT Professionals. Altova is sponsoring both events and we invite you to visit us at booth# 1114 to see the latest new features in version 2008r2 of our developer tools. We’ll be happy show you the new Open XML (OOXML) features introduced in MapForce, StyleVision, and DiffDog, as well as the new support for C# 3.0 and Visul Basic 9 in our UML modeling tool, UModel. To try these new features yourself, you can download a free 30-day eval version from our web site.

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MapForce data mapping tool now supports Excel 2007/OOXML mapping


We’re excited to have recently announced the availability of Altova MapForce Version 2008 Release 2 (v2008r2). The latest update to the MapForce graphical data mapping tool provides  powerful new functionality, including support for mapping Microsoft® Excel 2007, which uses the Office Open XML (OOXML) file format, integration with and project generation for Visual Studio® 2008, support for data streams in MapForce generated code, and much more.
Come visit us at Microsoft TechEd 2008 in Orlando this week and next at booth# 1114 and we’ll be happy to demo the new features to you.
data_mapping_tool

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Case Study: MapForce EDI Conversion Optimizes Business Transactions


National Frozen Foods Corporation, a family owned company, works with many vendors to get their products from the warehouse out to the market. Communications between the warehouse and vendors are sent via the X12 dialect of Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), a standard data format for business transactions.
The company had been using the EDI format for its B-2-B transactions, but relied on outside consultants to convert their internal flat file format (EIF) into EDI for processing. Such outsourcing proved to be expensive, often untimely, and introduced bugs, which then required additional development costs. Recognizing the need to create a more efficient documentation workflow that would cut costs and save time, National Frozen Foods decided to bring their EDI conversion in-house.
The solution they chose – Altova MapForce – is a visual data mapping and code generation tool that allows you to map and convert any combination of XML, database, flat file, EDI, Excel 2007, and/or Web services data formats.
With its built-in EDI support, flat file conversion, and code generation capabilities, along with its ease-of-use, MapForce helped National Frozen Foods successfully bring their EDI implementation in-house.
Using the MapForce FlexText module, NFF can directly parse the internal flat file format using a convenient graphical user interface:

The company can now maintain a codebase that can be easily modified and re-used for future transactions and thus eliminate their need for outsourcing.
For more information, access the full case study and more screenshots or download a free 30-day trial of Altova MapForce.

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LANSA OEMs MapForce to Convert Data in Business Process Integration App


A recent article in Database Trends & Applications magazine highlights how MapForce, Altova’s graphical mapping, conversion, and integration tool is working behind the scenes for LANSA Composer to give non-technical users the power to perform business process automation tasks.
LANSA, a software company offering a development environment for application generation and integration on multiple computer systems, chose MapForce because it was the only candidate that met the project’s four most important criteria:

  • Code-free user interface
  • Support for a full range of document formats, including XML, text files and EDI
  • Database support across all the platforms LANSA supports
  • Cross platform capabilities

LANSA Composer uses the MapForce application as its transformation component. MapForce generates a platform-independent Java applet behind the scenes based on the user input from the mapping. While invisible to the LANSA Composer user, the code enables the business processing engine to execute the transformation component of the business process integration sequence.
Altova MapForce Data Mapping Tool
Read the entire article, featured in the March issue of Database Trends & Applications magazine, as well as other recent reviews and news stories here: https://www.altova.com/news_and_reviews.html
Download a free 30-day trial of Altova MapForce at: https://www.altova.com/download.html to see how easy it can be to map between XML, database, EDI, flat file, and Web services data formats.

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White Paper: Reaping the Benefits of pureXML with Altova Tools


The IBM® DB2® data server offers a scalable and reliable information infrastructure that provides seamless integration of XML and relational services. Now with the deep integration of Altova tools and DB2 9, users can query, exchange, transform, and edit their XML artifacts more quickly, easily, and accurately.
Demonstrated using an online brokerage scenario, this white paper shows how the integration of Altova tools with DB2 allows users to:

  • Design and perfect XQuery statements faster, with real-time validation for a faster and more robust design time experience.
  • Preview, edit, and validate XML data stored in the database with just a few clicks
  • Easily manage XML Schemas in the DB2 9 Schema Repository
  • Map XML data from the database to a CSV file or convert it to an HTML table or other format

The solutions to the business problems presented in the white paper show how DBAs and developers working with real-world XML applications can benefit from the integration of Altova tools with IBM DB2 9.
Access the white paper here to read more about these solutions and view screenshots: https://www.altova.com/resources_wp.html#ibm_whitepaper

Get more information about using Altova tools when working with IBM DB2 9 pureXML here: https://www.altova.com/IBM_DB2_9_pureXML.html

Download a free 30-day trial of the Altova MissionKit here: https://www.altova.com/download.html, and see how working with XML-related technologies in DB2 9 is enabled by Altova tools.

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