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Hot off the Press!


The industry is abuzz with the latest news announcing our release of the MissionKit Version 2011 Release 2. The release is loaded with new features for chart and report creation, enhanced data mapping capabilities, new XML Schema editing functionality, support for the latest version of BPMN, and a really cool new feature for comparing and merging Microsoft® Word documents. clip_image002 Dr Dobb’s and SQL Server magazine are just a few of the industry publications and blogs that covered the launch. clip_image004   clip_image003 Read what the industry is buzzing about and then download a free 30-day trial of the MissionKit and check out for yourself all the powerful new features now available in our suite of XML, database, and UML tools!

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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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New DatabaseSpy Video: Exploring Databases


We’ve just launched the third video in the DatabaseSpy series. Exploring Databases is a tour of the DatabaseSpy Online Browser, a powerful tool for viewing, searching, and analyzing one or more connected databases. Exploring Databases demo Exploring Databases builds on the preceding video, Database Connections, which demonstrated how easy it is to use DatabaseSpy to connect to one or more databases. You can even simultaneously connect to databases of different types. And DatabaseSpy supports the most popular databases in production today, including Microsoft SQL Server, IBM DB2, Oracle, Sybase, MySQL, and more. Once you’re connected, the DatabaseSpy Online Browser shows you an expandable hierarchy of the database structure. It’s a great place to start exploring an unfamiliar database or quickly navigate to any specific element you need to work with in a familiar one. The Altova Flash videos are proving to be a popular feature on our Web site, with close to 350,000 views in all. If you haven’t seen an Altova product video yet, you’re missing a great opportunity to get a flavor for components of the award-winning Altova MissionKit by seeing them in action. If you’re already a fan, check back again soon — we’re in the studio working on more videos right now.

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Altova Releases German Language Version of DatabaseSpy 2008


VIENNA, Austria, 6 November 2007 – Altova, (www.altova.com) creator of the industry-leading XMLSpy XML Editor and other leading XML, data management, UML, and Web services tools, today announced that Altova DatabaseSpy 2008 is now available in a German language version. Like its English counterpart, the German edition of DatabaseSpy connects to all major databases, easing SQL editing and database structure design, for a fraction of the cost of single-database solutions. DatabaseSpy supports IBM DB2 (including IBM pureXML), Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft Access, Oracle, MySQL, and Sybase, as well as other ADO or ODBC databases.

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