A Quick Solution for Complicated Functions

Some data conversions require multiple steps to satisfy today’s complex data communication requirements. Altova MapForce 2011 lets you graphically combine a wide variety of mathematical, logical, string, and other specialized functions to build complicated "data equations" to get the results you need. If you’re working on a big, complicated mapping, if you’re using an unfamiliar function for the first time, or when your function creates an intermediate result that needs further processing, it is helpful to test your work each step of the way as you build. You can use a simple text file as a temporary target to see the output of your function under construction. Let’s say we want to add a date and time stamp to an existing mapping of an output file to record the time the data was generated. We can easily experiment with the MapForce now function in a new mapping that simply connects now to a text file. A function connected to a text file Clicking the Output button at the bottom of the mapping window shows us the immediate result:

Output of the now function Okay, that works, but maybe the consumer of the output file would like to see a more elegantly formatted version. We can work with various datetime and string functions and build a complicated function until our mapping looks like this: Complicated function to produce a string Or we could simply use the format-dateTime conversion function with a string constant to define the format: Using the format-dateTime function for customized output As we work, we can press the Output button at any time, until we are satisfied with a result that looks like this: Custom string for date and time If you don’t work with dateTime data types every day, it’s hard to write a format string on your first try that generates the desired result! After several attempts, variations, and consultations with MapForce Help, here’s the format we developed and stored in the string constant connected to the format input of the format-dateTime conversion function: String to define format for dateTime So far we used a text file that was defined as a basic CSV file with only a single field, but you can open the file Properties dialog and add fields or create a more customized output file. Properties settings for a simple text file One advantage of using a text file as the output target is there is no type checking of the function result, so the text file target lets you examine and verify the output of any function. In the screenshot below we created a mathematical function and added a second field to the text file target to map the result. Text file with two target fields Now the output is a single-row, comma separated result like this: Two fields in a simple text file If our ultimate target is going to be a database field or an XML element with an integer data type, then we can immediately see this mathematical function doesn’t produce the expected datatype. When you have perfected your function in the test mapping, you can simply select, copy, and paste it directly into your larger mapping. You can then connect the output of the function to your ultimate target. In the screen shot below our format dateTime function is mapped to an element in an XML schema that is defined as a string. Function pasted into larger mapping If this is a function you are likely to want again in the future, you can convert it to a User-Defined Function and save it in your library for convenient reuse. Altova MapForce Function menu You can even use a text file as a temporary target to build and test a complicated function right inside your larger mapping. In that case, your mapping includes multiple possible outputs. The eyeball button at the top right of each output file selects which output file is displayed in the Output window. Text file as a temporary target in a larger mapping When you select the text file as the Output preview, the MapForce execution engine does not process the larger mapping, only the function connected to the text file. This can be a huge time-saver when you just want to examine the function result and your larger mapping processes a large volume of data, or if you don’t want to risk inserting invalid data into a database, and in many other situations. Find out for yourself how easy it is to apply MapForce to your own data mapping projects! Download a free 30-day trial of MapForce.

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Harness the Power of Chained Transformations in MapForce

MapForce 2011 introduced an exciting enhancement we like to call chained transformations. Chained transformations let you create complex mappings where the output of one mapping becomes the input to another. In other words, two or more components can be directly connected to a final target component. MapForce chained transformation example MapForce has long supported intermediate components and generation of intermediate output that is supplied as input further down the line in the mapping. The new enhancement provides a direct route from your original input to your final target output. Pass Through for the Express Route to Data Integration Mapping and debugging a series of intermediate components can prove to be time consuming and cumbersome, especially when you are working with huge data stores. The new Pass Through button lets you efficiently go straight to your final target. The intermediate components of a chained transformation include a Pass Through button and a Preview button, and the final component also includes a Preview button. MapForce Pass-Through and Preview buttons Activating the Pass Through button on the intermediate component disables the Preview button for that component, and the intermediate output is sent directly to the next component for transformation. You don’t have to explicitly specify input and output data file names for the intermediate component in the component’s Properties dialog. Instead, MapForce automatically supplies default file names. The MapForce Output Preview window displays the final target output from the last component in the chain. MapForce chained transformation preview window In case you want to examine the intermediate output as you design and verify your mapping, the arrow buttons at the top left or the drop-down menu at the top right let you preview intermediate data. MapForce chined transformation preview window If our mapping included multiple intermediate components, the Pass Through feature would let us inspect each stage of the transformation in a single output window. Integrating All the Local Components In other data integration projects you may want to save the data from intermediate transformations as well as the output from your final target component. When you deactivate the Pass Through button of the intermediate component, you can select either component for preview. Note that you can specify the name of the output file for the intermediate component in the Properties dialog, or you can let MapForce supply a default name. MapForce Preview button If you select the intermediate component for preview, as shown above, the Output Preview Window displays only the intermediate output. MapForce Output Preview window If the Pass Through button is deactivated and you select the final component for preview, only the final result is displayed in the Output Preview window. MapForce Preview button MapForce Output Preview window Generate Code for Your Mapping If you will need to perform repetitive transformations, MapForce lets you generate royalty-free code for your chained transformation in XSLT 1.0, XSLT 2.0, XQuery, Java, C#, and C++. All this functionality is designed to give today’s developers and data management professionals ultimate flexibility and automation to meet 21st-century data communication requirements. See for yourself how easy it is to build a chained transformation for your own data integration project. Download a free 30-day trial of MapForce!

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New StyleVision Training

We are excited to announce the latest updates to our StyleVision online training course, which will help you easily come up to speed on the new reporting and chart creation functionality added in Version 2011, as well as how to create a StyleVision design (.SPS) based on an existing XSLT stylesheet. The final chapter in the course covers scripting, another advanced feature added in v2011. Access this chapter to learn how the scripting and toolbar editor helps you add flexibility and interactivity to the Authentic eForms you design in StyleVision. After an overview of the scripting capabilities, you’ll practice inserting macros, adding custom toolbar buttons and event handlers, and adding forms to your design. stylevision-training Like all Altova Online Training courses, the StyleVision modules are available on demand and are completely free. If you’re not a StyleVision or MissionKit customer, you can download a fully functional free trial before starting the training. We rely on your feedback and suggestions to update our online training classes and deliver the content you need most for your day-to-day work. Please let us know what you think of the new StyleVision chapters!

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Introducing XMLSpy 2011 Chinese Language Edition

We are thrilled to announce that with the release of Version 2011, XMLSpy is now available in a Chinese language edition. The new fully localized Chinese edition of the XMLSpy XML editor provides the same powerful functionality found in the English, German, and Japanese versions for editing, transforming, and debugging XML-related technologies. With the release of Version 2011 XMLSpy also adds ground-breaking new support for creating eye-catching charts based on XML data, making it the first and only XML editor on the market to support chart creation. XMLSpy 2011 also delivers several new customer-requested features, including a new schema flattener, extended SOAP validation capabilities, and enhanced functionality for creating schemas. ChineseScreenshot For our current XMLSpy 2011 customers you can unlock any language version using your existing key code. If you’re not an XMLSpy user download a free trial of XMLSpy 2011 to begin using all of the powerful new functionality available in Version 2011. Our decision to bring the localizations services in-house demonstrates our commitment to the Chinese market, and allows us to pass that cost savings on to you, our customers. The Chinese language version of Altova XMLSpy 2011 is currently available in Professional and Enterprise Editions and is available for purchase now from the Altova Online Shop or through your preferred reseller. XMLSpy 2011中文版本推出 我们很激动地宣布2011版本的发布,XMLSpy现在已有中文版可用,新的完全本地化的中文版XMLSpy XML编辑器如今可以提供英语,德语和日语多语种的编辑,转换和调试XML相关的技术,随着2011年的版本,我们还增加了突破性的基于XML数据创建醒目图表的支持,使之成为商场上第一个和唯一一个支持图表创建的XML编辑器,除此以外,我们还添加了多个客户要求的功能,这些功能包括新模式拼合,扩展的SOAP验证和为创建模式增进的功能。 ChineseScreenshot XMLSpy 2011当前的用户可以使用现有的键码解锁全部语言的版本,如果您还不是我们的用户,您可以下载免费试用版本,开始尝试2011版的强大新功能。 我们的本地化决定证明了我们致力于对中国市场的决心,使我们有机会帮助用户来节约成本,价格从136欧元或15232人民币起,标准,专业和企业版都具备中文版本,您可以通过Altova网店或其他首选经销商购买。

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MissionKit 2011 Now Available in Japanese

With the release of Version 2011 we are thrilled to bring you the Altova MissionKit in Japanese. Now all the Altova tools available in the MissionKit have been fully translated into Japanese. Like the English and German versions of the tool suite, the fully translated Japanese language version provides users with powerful functionality for XML and Web development, data mapping and integration, rendering and publishing of XML, XBRL, and database data, UML modeling, and more. All the tools available in the new Japanese language version of The MissionKit are available at the same cost as the English versions, and current Version 2011 users can now unlock any language version using their existing key code. missionkit_jp If you haven’t checked out our latest release – Version 2011, download a free, 30-day trial today! The Japanese language version of all the MissionKit tools can be purchased from the Altova Online Shop or through your preferred reseller.

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Altova Receives ‘2010 Best of Beverly’ Award

We are proud to announce that Altova was selected for the “2010 Best of Beverly” award in the Computer Software Development category by the U.S. Commerce Association (USCA)! The USCA “Best of Local Business” award program recognizes outstanding local business throughout the country and each year identifies companies they believe have achieved exceptional marketing success in their local community and business category. We are proud to be recognized by our local community for our success in the software industry as well as for the contributions we’ve made to the local area, such as committing to use renewable energy. And be sure to check back often to learn more about what we’ve been up to, including the most recent software release – Altova MissionKit Version 2011 – to helpful Tech Notes, the latest industry buzz, and other Altova awards. image

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New Software Release : MapForce 2011

  clip_image002 On September 8, Altova released v2011 of the MissionKit with powerful new features across the entire product line. MapForce has benefitted from the addition of advanced data integration functionality like chained transformations, integration with StyleVision for rendering transformation output, new formatting functions, and extended support for the UN/EDIFACT and ANSI X12 EDI formats. Let’s take a closer look at the exciting new features in MapForce 2011 including:

  • Chained transformations
  • Integration with StyleVision for output components
  • Formatting of numbers, dates, and times
  • Extended support for EDIFACT
  • Extended support for X12

Chained transformations Support for chained transformations lets you create complex mappings where the output of one mapping becomes the input of another. This is a powerful feature that adds to MapForce’s ability to execute fully automated transformations. Each chained component becomes a modular entity in an interdependent transformation sequence, allowing for conversions to be made on-the-fly. You can create chained transformations using any number of mapping components connected to a final target component. Preview and code generation features can be displayed/generated for intermediate components, as well as for the final mapping result. Intermediate mapping components also now have a "pass-through" button in the title bar that lets you define the set of data that gets passed on to the following component.  


For example, the mapping above shows a chained mapping where the pass-through button is active and sample data is assigned to component A. The output preview offers two separate sets of data: XML that conforms to the Contacts.xsd schema and incorporates a subset of data mapped from the Employees.xml sample file, and XML that conforms to PersonList.xsd using data from the Employees sample file. In both cases, the data has been amended with the relevant constants and functions that are shown in the MapForce design pane.   clip_image004 Integration with StyleVision for output components Support for Global Resources throughout the MissionKit has already offered you some integration between Altova software applications… But this feature takes that integration to a whole new level, allowing you to render XML and XBRL output from your data mappings into HTML, RTF, PDF, and Word 2007+ using an associated StyleVision template design. This essentially combines MapForce’s any-to-any data mapping capabilities with a sophisticated rendering engine, meaning that you can now automate report generation from virtually any data format that can be mapped to an XML Schema or XBRL taxonomy. In the example below, a StyleVision design has been associated with the mapping by simply right-clicking the output file and browsing to select a suitable SPS file using the Component Settings dialog.   clip_image005   Once the SPS file is entered or selected, you will be able to simply click on the relevant format tab (i.e., HTML, RTF, PDF, or Word 2007+) to view rendered data.   mapforce-html Formatting of numbers, dates, and times Probably one of the most requested features, this lets you easily convert numbers, dates, and times to their string representations using several different formatting functions. For example, the simple format-number function below converts a numerical input (e.g., 12345) to a monetary one in with a USD prefix, comma separating the thousands digits, and two decimal places (e.g., $12,345.00).   format-number   This post really just scrapes the surface of what the new MapForce release has to offer -download a free 30-day trial of Mapforce today to experience all of these new features and more!

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