Altova Adds to NIEM Support in v2010r3

Clashes between government agencies are the stuff of legends and entire TV shows: the FBI and the CIA, the local sheriff’s department and the big city CSI, Homeland Security and the Pentagon, Jack Bauer and CTU. Perhaps this has to do with the territorial nature of some of these entities, but perhaps, just perhaps, technology has a part to play in these conflicts. Incompatible architectures and data formats, legacy systems, and other technology road blocks within the United States government sometimes made it difficult for agencies to efficiently share pertinent information such as arrest reports, amber alerts, immigration details, and more.
The National Information Exchange Model (NIEM) is an XML-based standard for data exchange between United States government agencies and their information partners. It aims to provide a means for these entities to improve decision making, achieve greater operating efficiency, mitigate risk, improve public safety, and increase ROI through intergovernmental information exchange.
As a leader in XML tools and technologies, the Altova MissionKit already inherently supports NIEM on a variety of different levels. In v2010r3, we added two very specific features to XMLSpy that extend the XML editor with capabilities that are invaluable for NIEM development. For more on these features, see the recent NIEM blog post by our CEO and XML Aficionado, Alexander Falk.
Below is a brief overview of the support provided for NIEM across the MissionKit, from XML Schema editing in XMLSpy, to XMI import and UML diagramming in UModel, to data integration in MapForce, and beyond.


XMLSpy® 2010 provides a graphical schema design interface which simplifies the development of XML Schemas, allowing XML code to be generated in real-time behind the scenes. Users can switch back and forth between this view and text view at any time during their design process.

The graphical schema editor provides built-in support for creating the IEPD Extension Schema, Constraint Schema, and Exchange Schema.


In addition to the broad XML Schema support described above, XMLSpy provides comprehensive support for all other prevalent XML technologies, including:

UML Diagrams

The first stage in any development lifecycle is a thorough business requirements review. UML is particularly well-suited to modeling software projects because it provides a standardized approach to the design process. Scenario-based planning is recommended for NIEM, and though there is no UML diagram requirement, class diagrams, use-case diagrams, and sequence diagrams all provide value to IEPD documentation. In addition, NIEM provides a free tool for mapping data requirements based on an uploaded XMI representation of a UML model
UModel® 2010 is an advanced UML tool that supports all fourteen UML 2.3 diagrams, BPMN, SysML, and more. It works seamlessly with XML technologies like XMI, letting users easily import and export XMI based on their UML diagrams. UModel can even render XML Schemas in a format similar to UML diagrams and integrates seamlessly with all other MissionKit tools including XMLSpy, MapForce, and SchemaAgent. UModel also supports code generation, round-trip engineering, and reverse engineering, as well as integration with the popular Visual Studio and Eclipse IDEs.
UModel can be used two different phases of NIEM development:

  • Scenario Planning – to model and document with use case diagrams, sequence diagrams, and business process modeling
  • Map & Model – to develop class diagrams to create the exchange content model

XML Schema Management

Because of the potential to have many different schemas in each IEPD, XML Schema management can become an arduous process. SchemaAgent® 2010 is a unique file management tool that lets users visually manage their XML Schema, XML, XSLT, and WSDL assets in a project-based environment so that changes and structure of the file configuration can be easily recognized. SchemaAgent users can even view mapping files created using MapForce.


Data Mapping & Exchange

Data mapping is a crucial step at several levels in the NIEM process. Mapping helps users generate a subset schema to determine what elements can be used from the core and domain models, it is also used to perform a transform from one NIEM vocabulary to another. Some NIEM implementations also employ Web services to provide a mechanism for the exchange.
MapForce® 2010 is an any-to-any data mapping and integration tool that supports all of the potential data formats used in the NIEM lifecycle including XML, databases, flat files, Excel 2007+, and Web services. MapForce maps data based on its underlying structure (i.e. XML Schema), enabling mapping designs to be reused for recurrent transformations. MapForce also supports mapping to and from multiple source or target components. In addition, MapForce can be used to generate documentation detailing mapping projects for non-technical stakeholders in a variety of formats such as HTML and Microsoft® Word.


To try out this functionality on your own, download a free 30-day trial of Altova MissionKit now!

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Altova MissionKit Integration with Visual Studio – On with the Show!

VisualStudioWebButton Altova products have long supported tight integration with Visual Studio, giving developers seamless access to the advanced functionality of XMLSpy, MapForce, StyleVision, and UModel directly in their preferred development environment.So naturally, the Altova team is excited to attend the launch of Visual Studio 2010 on April 12-14 at the Bellagio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, NV. We’ll be demonstrating all the latest features of the Altova MissionKit 2010 Release 2 and we’d love to meet you at booth 614 on the Exhibition floor.If you’re not headed to Las Vegas, you can read more about Altova Integration with Visual Studio at the IDE Integration page on the Or follow the links below for detailed information on Visual Studio integration for each tool in the MissionKit:XMLSpy 2010 Professional and Enterprise Editions support seamless integration with Visual Studio , Microsoft’s premier application development environment, where you’ll have access to all of XMLSpy’s tools and utilities for modeling, editing, transforming, and debugging XML technologies.MapForce 2010 Professional and Enterprise Editions support full Visual Studio integration, allowing you to harness the power of MapForce for data integration, Web services implementation, and C++, C#, and Java code generation directly inside Visual Studio.StyleVision 2010 Professional and Enterprise Editions are offered as Visual Studio plugins, meaning that you can easily design and implement stylesheets for simultaneous XML, XBRL, and database output to HTML, RTF, PDF, and Word 2007+ (OOXML) directly within Visual Studio.UModel 2010 Enterprise Edition now supports advanced integration with Visual Studio, including code/model synchronization, giving you access to all of its UML modeling capabilities from within Visual Studio.(Oh yes, we know Visual Studio is not the only tool for all the XML, data integration, and UML developers out there. The Altova MissionKit IDE integration modules also support Eclipse.)

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Splitting Large UML Sequence Diagrams

A new feature introduced in UModel 2010 release 2 allows you to split large sequence diagrams when you reverse engineer existing Java, C#, or Visual Basic source code. What are the advantages of splitting a sequence diagram, and how should you decide to split or not? Obviously, a single diagram makes it easy to examine in one view all the interactions that occur during the execution of a class operation. On the other hand, a large, complex diagram can be cumbersome to view, navigate, analyze, and print in a readable format. Fortunately, UModel 2010r2 makes it quick and easy to experiment. After you generate your sequence diagram, if you don’t like the results, just click the Undo button and you can create a new variation by choosing different options in the Sequence Diagram Generation dialog. Or, you can even apply the Generate Sequence Diagram feature more than once to the same class operation, and maintain multiple versions of the sequence diagram in your model. For instance, if you plan to modify the existing code, you might want to keep a permanent record of the “before” and “after” editions to document your changes. We recently adapted our analysis of a bank ATM legacy application to create two new Technical Briefs in the Reference Library section of the Altova Web site, titled Analyze a Legacy Application with Altova UModel and Enhance a Legacy Application with Altova UModel. Enhancement of the code included adding a new method called getFinalOkay directly in the original source code file for the Withdrawal class. When we completed the round trip by synchronizing our UModel project with the application code, the split version of the sequence diagram included a dedicated sub-diagram for the new method. The sub-diagram is automatically labeled with a note and hyperlinked to the main diagram. UML_sequence_diagram If you’re ready to see for yourself how a visual software model can help you work with your own legacy application, click here to download a fully-functional free trial of Altova UModel!

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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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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,, 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, which followed a typical convention and visitor bureau site structure, to the much more animated and multi-faceted, a design that promotes the dynamic nature of the resources available and of the city itself. clip_image001 on 26 February 2008 clip_image003 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, 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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Part 5 – Analyzing a Legacy Application with Altova UModel

Previously in Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4 of this series we applied Altova UModel reverse-engineering functionality to create UML diagrams for an ATM banking simulation application. After analyzing the existing architecture, we planned and implemented a new feature, the withdrawal fee. Even in a reduced size, our updated sequence diagram for the withdrawal transaction clearly represents in graphical form the nested logic structure of the source code. UML sequence diagram (reduced size) This morning we happened to run into the ATM product manager at the coffee machine. “You’ve been working on that ATM code for over a month now,” he said. “When am I going to see what you’ve accomplished?” We can take advantage of the UModel Generate Documentation feature to satisfy this request. UModel will automatically create customized documentation for our project in HTML, Microsoft Word, or RTF formats. The Include tab in the Generate Documentation dialog box lets us choose which diagram types to include, and to specify the level of detail for our report by allowing us to expand each diagram element type. Altova UModel Generate Documentation dialog box For an overview report, we can select all diagram types. We’ll also select class from the Elements list to show further information about the classes in our application. UModel helpfully asks if we want to add elements derived from class as well. Altova UModel Generate Documentation helper After we have selected or adjusted other document parameters, including fonts and sizes, UModel generates the report in just a few seconds. At the top of the first page, the report begins with an index of diagrams and a separate index of elements. Each indexed item is hyperlinked to a bookmark in the document. Altova UModel project documentation in Word format Regardless which format you choose, the resulting report is fully editable. For instance, we can add a footer that includes page numbers and a tag line recording the document creation date. We can grab the tag line UModel created to create our footer. Altova UModel project documentation tag line Our completed report contains all the UML diagrams that describe the legacy ATM application, with detailed class diagrams that show the class properties and operations. Additionally, the illustration of each class is accompanied by a hierarchy diagram to show the class relationships, and a list of all the class associations. Later on as our project evolves further, we can easily generate an updated version of the report. We could even take advantage of the UModel command line functionality or the UModel API to automate creation of project documentation, or we could attach the .html version of the report to our developer team wiki. But for now all we have to do is email the report to the ATM product manager. Conclusion We hope you’ve enjoyed following along with this exercise in Analyzing a Legacy Application with Altova UModel. Although we are ending the series here, in the real world there is much more work to do on our ATM application. For instance, the feature to permit users to accept the fee or cancel a withdrawal remains to be implemented. Or, we could update the legacy code with newer Java language constructs such as generics, annotations, and enumerations. If you’re already experienced with UML we hope we’ve shown you a new trick or two. If you are a developer who’s never tried UML, we wanted to give you some of the flavor and benefits of visual software modeling. Either way, if you’re ready to go further on your own project, click here to download a fully-functional free trial of Altova UModel.

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Java Utopia

Java-powered robots, Java mobile phone apps, Java in the cloud, Java running Neil Young’s ’59 Lincoln, a new T-shirt, and photos with Duke! It can only mean the annual pilgrimage to the Moscone Center in San Francisco for JavaOne. XMLSpy and MapForce feature Java code generation and UModel can both generate and reverse engineer Java code. Of course you can use all the Java code you generate with Altova tools royalty free! Check out this YouTube video:

to see and hear a few highlights of JavaOne 2009 and Altova’s presence there.You can also click here to see an interview with Altova’s Technical Marketing Manager filmed at JavaOne by TechTarget.

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