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Use XPath Expressions to Refine Data Selection


In this era of big data we often need to simplify analysis and communication by creating customized views into sections of a larger file. XPath, short for XML Path Language, is designed to allow users to address parts of large XML documents. XMLSpy supports XPath with an XPath Analyzer window and in its interface for charting XML data, MapForce supports XPath functions for XML data mapping, and StyleVision supports XPath in conditional templates, extension templates, and template filtering.

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Download Example Files for FlowForce Server, MapForce, and StyleVision


In response to an interested reader’s suggestion, the Altova MapForce mapping files and StyleVision stylesheet we deployed to FlowForce Server for the job described in the blog post Taming Bad Input Data with FlowForce Server are now available for download on the Altova Web site at www.altova.com/documents/AltovaBlogExampleFiles.zip

Altova MapForce and StyleVision sample files

Simply unzip the archive into a new folder and you’ll have all the data mappings, the stylesheet, and other supporting data files all in one place. A ReadMe file explains the contents. You can download fully functional free trials of Altova MissionKit and FlowForce Server at https://www.altova.com/download.html and implement and test FlowForce Server yourself.

Or, execute the data mappings in MapForce and the stylesheet in StyleVision to see how easy it is to extract meaningful information from the GPS data recorded by your own digital camera or GPS device. The example files in the download were also used in Web Service as a Look-Up Table to Refine GPS Data, XPath Enhances XML Reports, and others in our series on working with XML and Global Positioning Systems.

If you’re already an Altova MissionKit user, you can download these files with examples of Web services and user functions for MapForce, and XPath calculations and chart features for StyleVision, and add them to the extensive libraries of MapForce and StyleVision samples installed with Altova MissionKit tools.

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The Altova MissionKit 2013 Introduces Seamless Integration of XMLSpy, MapForce, and StyleVision in Java Applications


The Altova MissionKit 2013, empowers developers to integrate XMLSpy, MapForce, or StyleVision functionality seamlessly in custom Java applications for Windows. This frequently-requested capability adds to existing support for integrating these MissionKit tools in Visual Basic or C# applications, giving developers flexibility to add some or all XMLSpy, MapForce, or StyleVision views and functionality to their own custom apps.

Version 2013 of XMLSpy, MapForce, and StyleVision include a new API that allows each to run inside a window within a Java application developed using the Java Abstract Window Toolkit (AWT) or Java Swing. This functionality allows MapForce 2013, for instance, to be embedded in larger applications where data mapping and transformation is only one requirement.

MapForce running in a Java ActiveX window

Altova provides sample applications with XMLSpy, MapForce, and StyleVision illustrating use of the Java API. You can access the sample applications from the command line or from within Eclipse.

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Using Table Row and Column Conditions in StyleVision 2013


The ability to conditionally hide table rows or columns has been a popular feature request from StyleVision users. StyleVision 2013 adds the capability in the form of conditional expressions on table rows and columns. Conditional processing can be set on individual columns and rows of static and dynamic tables, as well as on column and row headers, to display or hide the column, row, or header depending on the truth of the condition. The conditions are specified using StyleVision’s XPath Expression editor. If a condition evaluates to true, the column, row, or header is displayed; otherwise it is not (i.e., is hidden).

StyleVision 2013 Edit XPath Expression dialog

Let’s take a look at some scenarios for which this new feature is exceptionally useful.

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Watermarks in StyleVision 2013


Watermark support has been added in StyleVision 2013, in response to customer requests. A watermark is text or an image that is displayed on the background of each page of a document section. Watermarks are often used in draft and confidential documents in order to emphasize a document’s status or security constraints.

In StyleVision 2013, watermarks may be used for print-oriented output formats, including PDF, RTF, and Word (Open XML). In keeping with StyleVision’s overall design model, with a single layout design used for multiple output types, you only need to define watermarks once, and they are applied to all print-output views.

Here’s an example of a StyleVision design containing a watermark:

StyleVision 2013 Word watermark example

Let’s take a look at the steps involved in using watermarks in StyleVision 2013 by modifying the QuickStart example (quickstart.sps) included in the Tutorials folder (installed with StyleVision), in order to produce the design shown in the image above.
In the Design view, if you select “Edit Properties” in the Initial Document Section, you’ll see a new “Watermark…” button. Clicking the button presents the Edit Watermark dialog:

StyleVision 2013 edit image watermark dialog

StyleVision supports both image and text watermarks. For both types of watermarks, the general idea is to specify:
· A condition used to determine when the watermark should be included (which can simply be “true()” in order to include the watermark on all pages)
· The watermark content (image or text, with related attribute setting preferences)
· Watermark size and position settings

For our example scenario, let’s assume we want to place a red “CONFIDENTIAL” text watermark across printed pages. To do so, we click the Text tab in the Edit Watermark dialog and:
· Enter “true()” for the condition
· Enter “CONFIDENTIAL” for the watermark text
· Select red for the watermark color

StyleVision 2013 edit text watermark dialog

StyleVision’s support for watermarks is powerful and flexible. You can include both text and image watermarks, for example, with different XPath conditional expressions used to specify what should appear when. You can also specify different watermarks (or pairs of image and text watermarks) for each document section in a StyleVision design.

Check out watermark options and the other new features in StyleVision 2013 by downloading a free 30-day trial version today!

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Web Service as a Look-Up Table to Refine GPS Data


Elevation data recorded by GPS devices is notoriously inaccurate, especially in hilly terrain like the Russian River Valley example from our earlier post.

The final elevation track plotted from the Russian River Valley GPX file is suspicious for several reasons. First, the graph shows we descended almost 50 feet below sea level. That’s hard to believe, since we were travelling along the bank of the river, only about 10 miles from the Pacific Ocean.

Altova StyleVision ChartSecondly, we were headed mostly west, following the river downstream, but the track shows a predominantly uphill trend.

We can evaluate the recorded GPS elevation data by comparing it to information available from the United States Geological Survey (USGS). The USGS operates a Web service that accepts latitude and longitude coordinates, and returns elevation data measured by NASA and assessed for accuracy based on over 13,000 control points in the continental United States.

Using the elevation Web service in an Altova MapForce mapping will let us extract each point from the GPX file, send the coordinates to the USGS Web service, and build a new GPX file with corrected elevation data.

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Resist Data Integration Redundancy


The Internet makes massive amounts of data available for lots of interesting applications. But whenever you design a unique analysis and presentation of information you don’t privately control, you risk that the owner will offer the same view at some point in the future, instantly making your application redundant.

That’s exactly what happened to the Groupon API data-mining project we originally wrote about in August, 2011. Fortunately, the core of our project is a MapForce graphical data mapping. We can quickly and easily tweak the mapping and repurpose it to present an entirely different data set that provides new value.

HTML output from MapForce and StyleVision

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