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Microsoft PDC 2008 Recap


The Altova team exhibited at Microsoft PDC (Professional Developers Conference) in Los Angeles a couple of weeks ago. PDC is billed as a tradeshow for “leading-edge developers and software architects,” and, true to its promise, this event delivered a crowd of high level technology professionals. We enjoying catching up with a large number of current Altova customers and other .NET developers interested in learning more about using Altova MissionKit tools to solve XML, UML, and database design and development challenges. Our visitors were particularly interested in MapForce, a powerful and VERY affordable alternative to large-scale ETL solutions like BizTalk and SSIS, and UModel, for its advanced UML support and integration with Visual Studio.We also took this opportunity to introduce visitors to the MissionKit and the huge savings offered through downloading it as an integrated development suite. The MissionKit was also a popular conversation topic because of the powerful plugins it offers for Visual Studio – in XMLSpy, MapForce, and UModel.One of the most enjoyable memories that this exhibitor has in particular from PDC is the large number of current customers who brought their friends by to encourage them to try our tools – telling them how they could solve problems that they had previously discussed and even answering questions from other visitors listening in! It really made me recognize and appreciate the enormous amount of support that Altova and Altova tools have from the .NET community… Thank you everyone. We hope that you continue to enjoy Altova MissionKit tools and to see you all again the next time PDC rolls into town!Lastly, here’s a video from the show: Allyson and David demoing UModel live at PDC.

Altova UModel at PDC 2008
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New video available: UML round trip engineering


We’ve just uploaded a new Flash video in the UModel UML modeling series titled "Round Trip Engineering." The Round Trip Engineering video describes how to move your software modeling project ahead either by working directly in the source code or by expanding and refining your UML model, while keeping both the code and model in sync. uml_reverse_engineering_demo Even if you’re a code jockey who prefers to work directly in your IDE, maintaining an accurate UML model promotes good communication tool among team members. You can use the UModel UML project documentation feature to quickly generate customized project docs in HTML, rich text, or Microsoft Word formats that will keep the project manager happy too. And don’t forget, the UModel Enterprise Edition integrates with both the Visual Studio and Eclipse development environments and features automatic real-time synchronization of changes in either your source code library or UML model. We’re also thrilled with the popularity of the UModel video titled Creating UML Use Case Diagrams on both our site and YouTube. We posted it on YouTube just over a year ago, and it has accumulated over 18,000 views, becoming one of the most popular videos on YouTube covering the Unified Modeling Language.   Please let us know what you think of the new Round Trip Engineering video, and stay tuned for upcoming installments on the DatabaseSpy database tool

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Agile Modeling with UModel


Agile development is quickly becoming a leading model in the forward-thinking software community. The agile method seeks to bring development out of the document-heavy rigidity that exists within architecture-centric projects with a flexible and lightweight alternative that focuses heavily on adaptivity and customer communication. The agile model seeks to reduce the vast amounts of paperwork and planning put into many software development projects, shifting the focus to adapt to changing requirements and overall customer satisfaction. The Unified Modeling Language™ (UML®) has long been the de facto industry standard for object oriented software modeling, offering thirteen diagram types to represent three different system views: structure, behavior, and interaction. Altova’s UML modeling tool, UModel, presents an approach to UML that is both iterative and flexible, giving software documentation the ability to adapt and change with each new iteration, and offering customer-facing development teams the opportunity to present compelling application model designs every step of the way.

UML

Adopted as a standard by the Object Management Group (OMG) in 1997, and later formalized as ISO 19805, UML is actually the product of several different prevalent OO modeling languages which emerged in the early 1990s. UML is a graphical language for organizing, analyzing, and planning object-oriented or component-based software projects. The UML 2.1 specification defines thirteen major different diagram types and over one thousand graphical and textual language elements, as well as additional extension mechanisms. Traditionally these diagrams have been used by software developers and project managers as a powerful, standardized planning language to verify application logic and confirm that end-user needs will be met. UML is complex by design, offering a multitude of options for visually detailing software implementations in a wide variety of hierarchical models that can provide representations for every stage and process within the development cycle. Structure Diagrams

  • Class diagram
  • Component diagram
  • Composite structure diagram
  • Deployment diagram
  • Object diagram
  • Package diagram

Behavior Diagrams

  • Activity diagram
  • State machine diagram
  • Use case diagram

Interaction Diagrams

  • Communication diagram
  • Interaction overview diagram
  • Sequence diagram
  • Timing diagram

With this complexity comes a learning curve that can be easily addressed by choosing an intuitive UML modeling tool that includes advanced usability features and seamless graphical representations, as well as the agility to adapt and grow with a software development project. The Agile Manifesto Drafted in early 2001, the Agile Manifesto documents a set of principles for a faster, lighter, and goal-oriented approach to software development that contrast with the traditional waterfall method that has long existed at a majority of technology companies. The ideas behind agile development had been gaining notoriety over many years with the creation of other similar lightweight methodologies, many of which have since been incorporated into the agile family. The manifesto is built on the concept of software development as an iterative process that must be able to quickly adapt to ever-changing requirements and customer needs. The document focuses on:

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  • Responding to change over following a plan

An adherence to these overall goals intends to keep software projects limber and malleable enough to adapt to changing requirements, while keeping developers focused on the quality of their work at every stage of the process. Agile Modeling The agile methodology requires a modeling and documentation process that reflects the fluidity of its founding principles. The agile modeling process is a means to support development projects, addressing interaction and collaboration through the presentation of action plans in a visual format that stakeholders can readily understand, while also being technical enough to provide developers with a basis for their design. Agile modeling focuses on simplicity and the ability to process and handle changing requirements, leading to an incremental approach, where software projects are visually modeled and presented in phases, rather than a traditional model in which all encompassing plans are drawn up at the outset. The Agile Model Driven Development (AMDD) approach dictates a relatively short requirements analysis phase, with successive just-in-time modeling to address project needs at each iteration. Using this method, working software is available for review and testing at a much earlier stage, giving collaborators the opportunity to change requirements as the project evolves. UML and Agile Modeling The widespread adoption of UML as a modeling language stems largely from its ability to express software design in many different ways and at many different stages. In addition, its rapid acceptance as a standard suggests a recognized need for a unified approach to modeling, helping disparate development communities to collaborate over shared projects. As a predecessor to agile methods, UML was developed to address more stringent object-oriented design methods, which have more robust modeling and documentation requirements. However, with the right tool, developers, project managers, and stakeholders can take advantage of this standard modeling language in their agile projects. Agile Modeling with UModel Altova UModel is a full featured UML development tool, supporting all diagram types with additional support for code and documentation generation, reverse engineering, and advanced usability features. Fully compliant with the latest UML specification (2.1.1), UModel is a valuable asset to any form of software development. UModel’s unparalleled flexibility and functionality make it the ideal UML tool for agile modeling, allowing developers and collaborators to take advantage of the trusted UML standard by applying its modeling capabilities to agile methods. UModel UML tool UModel offers advanced usability features that help lessen the UML learning curve, making modeling accessible to all project collaborators. With a focus on versatility in model design, UModel offers a completely customizable interface with color-coded elements to clearly indicate model characteristics. UModel visual elements Users can also add additional customizations to enhance usability and communication that can be automatically applied to single elements, groups, or project-wide. UModel’s rich visual interface enables developers to quickly and easily sketch software designs to communicate all aspects of system architecture. This lightweight approach to UML design melds perfectly with the agile methodology, opening avenues for communication over dynamic project representations. UModel provides additional support for collaboration through support for shared packages, which enable developers to distribute their functional designs to other team members or import designs from other projects for reuse. UModel share package Visual design representations can also easily be saved or printed as images for conceptual review by non-technical contributors. Save UML diagram as image Another compelling feature in UModel that drives inter-project communication as well as customer collaboration is the ease at which developers can create informative use case diagrams. UML use case diagrams tend to be a popular choice in agile modeling because they address one of the most challenging phases of the software development process, the visualization of user interaction. UModel use case diagram representations can be seamlessly illustrated with the help of advanced usability features and sophisticated graphical output. UML use case in UModel UModel also allows developers to auto-generate detailed documentation, including embedded images, in HTML, RTF, or Microsoft® Word. This feature addresses the second point of the Agile Manifesto, enabling teams to focus their efforts on software design, rather than getting buried in overbearing documentation that can sometimes stall project flow. Generate UML documentation UModel’s robust round-trip engineering capabilities provide agile developers with the ability to quickly adapt and respond to change over the course of their project(s). UModel interprets modifications to project source code and synchronizes this with the corresponding UML diagram. UModel supports Java, C#, and Visual Basic, bringing advanced functionality and flexibility to the iterative development process. UML round trip engineering UModel also offers tight integration with the leading integrated development environments, Visual Studio® and Eclipse, giving developers the ability to seamlessly switch between the UML model and code editing windows and see any updates and changes reflected in real-time. UModel’s extensive usability and communication features offers development teams the ability to quickly change and adapt project requirements based on the results of incremental collaboration. Its graphical design interface and intuitive modeling capabilities enable team members to create compelling visual designs that can be easily interpreted by both technical and non-technical stakeholders at every stage of the project. Conclusion The wide acceptance of agile practices signifies a shift from the role-based, waterfall approach that was the norm just a few years ago. Businesses are recognizing that software projects are constantly changing and evolving at every step of the way. Development teams need to be able to manage change, to meet deadlines, and to lower costs. Nothing is quite as effective as the right set of concise diagrams to represent the essence of a software implementation. UML has the capacity to deliver structure to vague and abstract customer requirements, enabling developers to easily conceptualize the task at hand. With its flexible and advanced UML design interface, UModel is an ideal modeling tool for agile development, giving developers an inexpensive, easy-to-use, comprehensive modeling option with robust features for project collaboration and communication. UModel gives users the opportunity to capitalize on the extensive capabilities of the UML standard, but also offers the plasticity required of agile implementations. You can try UModel for free in your next agile development project. This technical brief and other resources are available in the Altova Library.

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Altova UModel adds Business Process Modeling, Layers, Java 6.0, C# 3.0, and VB 9.0, plus much more in v2008r2


The Altova UML tool for software modeling and application development keeps getting better and better, with recently launched UModel Version 2008 Release 2 adding exciting new features including support for business process diagrams in BPMN notation, code engineering support for Java 6.0, C# 3.0, and Visual Basic 9.0, diagram layers, enhanced auto-completion, and much more. We can’t wait to see how users take advantage of the new layers feature: In UModel 2008 Release 2 you can assign each diagram element to a specific layer and set each layer to be hidden or visible. Just imagine how you could take advantage of layers to build simplified views within complex activity diagrams, state machine diagrams that contain superstates and substates, to identify the roles of different parties in business process diagrams, or in virtually any UML diagram that grows to more than two dozen or so elements!

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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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Altova Announces Version 2008 Release 2 of its Software Product Line


(Altova today announced the availability of Version 2008 Release 2 (v2008r2) of its award-winning line of software tools. The release of v2008r2 adds a host of new features and enhancements to Altova’s product line, including support for working with very large files in XMLSpy, extended Office Open XML (OOXML) functionality across multiple products, support for creating Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN) diagrams in UModel, and much more.
Visit https://www.altova.com/whatsnew.html to view a complete list of new v2008r2 features with screenshots.
Very Large XML File SupportXMLSpy v2008r2 contains a number of advanced optimizations that allow you to open and work with files that are about 4 to 5 times larger than those supported in the past*, providing a huge benefit for working with large amounts of data in the context of database applications, financial services, data gathering, and enterprise data integration. This new support results in a reduction of memory-consumption by up to 75-80 percent as compared to the previous version when opening and validating XML documents in Text View.
In this latest release, XMLSpy v2008r2 also provides multiple features for optimizing XSLT development, including new entry helper windows and support for Java, C#, JavaScript, and VBScript in the XSLT 1.0/2.0 and XQuery engines. This enhanced functionality makes XMLSpy and AltovaXML(TM) the first universal XSLT engines to support all of these programming dialects.
In addition, XMLSpy’s support for seamless integration with and code generation for Visual Studio(R) has been extended in v2008r2 to include support for Visual Studio 2008.
Extended Microsoft(R) Office 2007 / OOXML functionality – With OOXML functionality already available in XMLSpy, Altova now expands that support across its MapForce(R), StyleVision(R), and DiffDog(R) products. MapForce supports the OOXML data format in Microsoft Excel(R) 2007. Now you can map Excel 2007 data to and from XML, databases, text, EDI, and Web services, and then convert data instantly or autogenerate royalty-free program code for recurrent transformations. As Microsoft customers continue to upgrade to the newest version of the Office suite, support for Excel 2007 will become an indispensable feature for sophisticated data integration projects and applications.
In StyleVision v2008r2, new OOXML support allows designers and developers to create stylesheets to publish XML and database data in Word 2007. StyleVision’s drag-and-drop stylesheet design interface simultaneously generates output in HTML, PDF, RTF, Word 2007, and Authentic(R) e-Forms, plus the corresponding XSLT stylesheets. Support for Word 2007 / OOXML in StyleVision will now enable you to design stylesheets for an even larger network of users as adoption of Office 2007 / OOXML continues.
In addition, Altova has reduced the price of StyleVision considerably to further ease the transition for developers working with the new OOXML formats.
For DiffDog v2008r2 users, detailed differences in Office 2007 / OOXML file pairs and other ZIP archive pairs are now displayed. You can perform extensive comparisons of OOXML files and ZIP archives, identify differences, and merge changes with more accuracy and efficiency than ever before.
Expanded Modeling CapabilitiesUModel v2008r2 now supports the Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN), allowing you to create BPMN diagrams to illustrate a business process prior to development.
UModel v2008r2 also includes updated code generation and reverse engineering support for Java 6.0, C# 3.0, and Visual Basic 9.0, including accurate parsing of new language constructs introduced in C# 3.0 and VB 9.0 that directly support XML. This added functionality makes UModel the first UML tool to support C# 3.0 and VB 9.0. These are just a few of the many compelling new features being introduced in UModel v2008r2.
Access to Global Resources – Direct access to global resources is now available within XMLSpy, MapForce, StyleVision, and DatabaseSpy(R), providing increased integration between these tools. This new functionality will be especially useful for customers with multiple Altova products, such as those using the Altova MissionKit(TM) product bundle.
Global resources support allows you to define, share, and access file, folder, and database resources across multiple projects and multiple software tools. This will allow MissionKit users to, for example, access and work with the output of a MapForce data mapping project — as it is produced on-the-fly — in XMLSpy and/or StyleVision. Countless other scenarios of tight integration between XMLSpy, MapForce, StyleVision, and DatabaseSpy are possible.
You will also now be able to define a target deployment environment on-the-fly within XMLSpy, MapForce, StyleVision, and DatabaseSpy projects, specifying ancillary files, directories, data sources, databases, etc. This means that a project can be thoroughly tested in multiple environments without having to be redesigned before it goes live. Support for global resources only adds to the numerous other productivity-enhancing features of the Altova MissionKit, which bundles up to eight Altova XML, data integration, and data management tools for less than the price of two.**
v2008r2 is a free update for Altova customers with an active Support and Maintenance Package. Visit https://www.altova.com/download.html to update now.
To download a 30-day free trial of any of the Altova products visit: https://www.altova.com/download.html
*Reduced memory-consumption of up to 75-80% measured in internal tests at Altova with XML files ranging from 10MB to 200MB in size, comparing XMLSpy 2008r2 with XMLSpy 2008sp1. Your results may differ.

**Pricing comparison is edition-specific and based on Altova MissionKit vs. any two individual licenses of the following included products: XMLSpy and MapForce.

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Altova Releases Version 2008 of its Award-winning Software Product Line


Altova, creator of XMLSpy and other leading XML, data management, UML, and Web services tools, today announced the availability of Version 2008 (v2008) of its award-winning line of software development tools. With the release of its v2008 products, Altova introduces a host of powerful new capabilities, including support for the Widows Vista operating system across the product line, extended support for Office Open XML file formats in XMLSpy, more data mapping versatility in MapForce, and enhanced database functionality in StyleVision. Additionally, this new software version brings Visual Basic .NET code engineering and real-time integration with Visual Studio and Eclipse in UModel, support for editing database views and stored procedures in DatabaseSpy, one-click directory synchronization in DiffDog, and much more.

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