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Comparing XML Schemas with DiffDog 2010


DiffDog 2010 includes a powerful new tool to compare XML Schemas that XML developers and others can use to update existing XML data files as XML Schemas evolve. This post takes a look at an example scenario for this feature.Before we drop into the new functionality, let’s take a quick look at two XML Schemas using the DiffDog File Compare feature. Of course, just like in previous versions, DiffDog 2010 users can compare XML Schemas as .xsd documents and display differences in a color-coded, XML-aware format.DiffDog file comparison view of XML Schemas This is a good way to identify and manage differences in XML Schemas, especially when you want to review revisions to industry-standard XML Schemas that evolve over time.What’s new in DiffDog 2010 is an additional XML Schema Differencing option that graphically displays two XML Schemas side by side, identifies identical elements automatically, and lets users map differences and generate XSL transformations to update XML data files.Here’s our first view when we open the same two XML Schemas shown in the file comparison above, using the new XML Schema Differencing feature.Initial DiffDog XML Schema Differencing view of XML Schemas The root elements of the two XML Schemas are automatically connected. We can click the Compare button in the toolbar to automatically connect identical elements in the two XML Schemas.DiffDog XML Differencing (Of course we could also select Compare XML Schemas from the right click context menu, or choose Start Comparison from the Diff and Merge menu, or press the F5 keyboard shortcut – DiffDog gives you many options to perform the same task, so you can work the way you like.)Next, we can map elements with different names in the two XML Schemas by manually connecting the pointer arrows between them. In this example most of the changes to the version of the XML Schema on the right simply give elements new names that will be more clear when the XML Schema and its data files are distributed through our enterprise.User-mapped XML Schemas in DiffDog XML Schema Differencing view When all the elements are mapped, we can generate an XSLT file to transform existing XML data files based on the XML Schema on the left to reflect revisions in the newer version on the right. This feature is designed to rescue XML developers from the tedious tasks of writing and debugging XSL transformations by hand.DiffDog Diff and Merge Menu Here is an example of an original XML data file based on the XML Schema on the left side, as viewed in Altova XMLSpy:XML data file viewed in XMLSpy The output file after applying the XSL transformation we created with DiffDog 2010 appears below. Note the substitution of the author element for writer, email for feedback, and so on.XSL output viewed in XMLSpy If there are many existing XML files that need to be transformed, the Project Management features of XMLSpy can help us automate the process. We can add external folders to an XMLSpy project.XMLSpy Project Helper Window Using the XMLSpy properties dialog for each project folder, we can assign default values to assign an XML Schema for validation, the XSL transformation, and the destination of the output.XMLSpy project folder properties dialog Now we can select the input folder in the XMLSpy Project helper window and transform all the files in it with the single-keystroke F10 shortcut.When we originally mapped the XML Schema elements in DiffDog, we left the publication element on the left side unconnected, since it had no corresponding element in the earlier version of the schema. That means when we transform XML input files using the XSLT, the resulting output will not contain the publication element. If publication is a required element, we can call on Altova MapForce for a quick solution.One of the options in DiffDog is to generate a MapForce mapping rather than XSLT. When we choose this option, MapForce launches with our DiffDog mapping already loaded as a new MapForce design, as shown below.MapForce New Design It’s easy to enhance the mapping by adding a constant as a default value for the publication element.MapForce enhanced design Now we can save an XSL file from MapForce that reuses all the element mappings we originally designed in DiffDog and adds the constant. When we apply the new XSL to transform our original XML data file, we get a result that includes the default value for the publication element.Final version of output viewed in XMLSpy This post started by describing the new XML Schema Comparison feature in DiffDog 2010. Fleshing out a simple – but typical – real-world example quickly highlighted additional tasks easily completed by taking advantage of tight integration with XMLSpy and MapForce.All three of these tools and more are available at substantial savings in the Altova MissionKit 2010, the integrated suite of XML, database, and UML tools designed to meet the diverse development and data management needs of today’s software architects and XML developers. Click here to download a free trial today!

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Report from Microsoft PDC


We always enjoy meeting developers who currently use Altova tools and others with projects our tools can help them complete. This year’s PDC in Los Angeles was no exception – great weather, great camaraderie, and a brand new Version 2010 of the Altova MissionKit to demonstrate and talk about. Below is our short YouTube video of PDC highlights. If you were there, see if you can spot yourself in the crowd. If you didn’t get to go this year, we’re sorry we missed you.  

  Wanted2 And don’t forget to check out Version 2010 of the Altova MissionKit online. Version 2010 is packed with over 70 new features that were requested by our current users. Our What’s New page describes highlights of the major new functionality in XMLSpy and the other Altova developer tools. If you are covered by a current SMP plan, your update to v2010 is free. If you need to purchase an upgrade, click here to visit the Upgrades page on our Web site. The Altova Upgrades page describes all the details and connects to our online Upgrade Wizard to get started right away. You may be eligible for a discount of up to 40%! Our trip to Microsoft PDC wraps up the Altova show season for 2009. We hope to see you in person at another event next year.

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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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XMLSpy’s Most Wanted


Altova's Most Wanted When we announced that Altova Software Version 2010 included over 70 of the features most requested by our customers, we weren’t talking about little tweaks and enhancements, but major new functionality! To show you we mean business, I’ll outline some of the most requested features added to XMLSpy 2010 here.

WSDL 2.0 Support

In response to requests from from Web services developers, the graphical WSDL editor in XMLSpy 2010 now supports the latest version of the WSDL standard, WSDL 2.0. This adds to existing support for WSDL 1.1, giving you the choice of which version of the standard to work with. The WSDL editor automatically provides the correct editing environment for the version currently being utilized, and XMLSpy even provides one-step conversion capabilities for migration between WSDL 1.1 and 2.0. Since the XMLSpy WSDL editor uses a graphical interface (you can, of course, also work in Text View if you wish), you can easily visualize the structure of your WSDL document and edit it using drag-and-drop functionality and context-sensitive entry helpers, which offer the relevant choices based on the selected WSDL version.

WSDL 1.1/2.0 editor

Enhanced XBRL Functionality

Since we added support for XBRL validation and XBRL taxonomy editing in XMLSpy 2009, we’ve received excellent feedback from customers, including some feature requests that we were able to address in v2010. The new XBRL documentation generation capabilities of XMLSpy 2010 make it easy to generate comprehensive documentation – in RTF, MS Word, or HTML – for your XBRL taxonomies. Multiple options let you choose exactly what to include in the documentation, and the resulting output (snippet shown below) includes hyperlinked components for easy navigation. XBRL taxonomy documentation

Another option for documentation is to print the graphical representation of your taxonomy as it is shown in XMLSpy’s graphical XBRL view. XMLSpy 2010 also includes the new XBRL Taxonomy Wizard to give you a head start when creating a taxonomy. Simply enter the company name, ticker, or other identifier for your XBRL taxonomy, and then select the base taxonomy to extend (if any).

XBRL Taxonomy Wizard

XMLSpy creates the required taxonomy files and prompts you to select the entry points of the base taxonomy. Once you click finish, XMLSpy 2010 displays the newly created XBRL taxonomy files in the graphical XBRL Taxonomy Editor, where you can continue editing and refining the taxonomy in a visual manner. The new Find in XBRL and XBRL Sort options in XMLSpy 2010 meet customers’ requests for quick, easy ways to find data in and

navigate through large, complex XBRL taxonomies.

XBRL Taxonomy Editor

JSON Editor

We’ve recently heard from a lot of developers working on Web 2.0 and Web services apps in XMLSpy who also use JSON – so we decided to add a JSON editor in XMLSpy 2010. You can compose JSON strings in Text View or Grid View, and even convert between XML and JSON. In Text View, the JSON editor provides syntax coloring, line numbering, source folding, bookmarking, and more, making it easy to comprehend and navigate your JSON code, and find and edit strings. Intelligent JSON editing populates the Elements entry helper window with a dynamically built list of the elements present in your JSON file, which you can insert with a double-click.

JSON editor text view

Intelligent JSON editing is also available in Grid View, which provides graphical representation that shows the structure / outline of a JSON document through a set of nested containers. These can be easily expanded and collapsed to get a clear picture of the document’s tree structure, and drag-and-drop editing is supported.

JSON Editor Grid / Outline View A final must-have feature for working with JSON is the JSON <=> XML converter in XMLSpy 2010. One click lets you, for example,  convert an XML file to JSON for transport with JavaScript, or convert data received in JSON format to valid XML. No more JSON vs. XML arguments – XMLSpy gives you the best of both worlds.

Redesigned Scripting Environment & Forms Editor

XMLSpy includes an integrated scripting environment and forms editor that has been redesigned for this latest release. Scripts can be written in JScript or VBScript to access and interact with the XMLSpy API, allowing you to modify and add functionality to your installation of XMLSpy 2010. Improvements and optimizations in Version 2010 include:

  • Access to most of the .NET framework
  • New form editor controls
  • Testing & debugging of macros directly in the scripting editor
  • Execution of macros directly through XMLSpy menus
  • Improved entry-helpers & auto-completion in the scripting editor

Read more about the “most wanted” features in XMLSpy and the rest of the Altova MissionKit. Please be sure to let us know your most wanted features, either by commenting here on the blog or entering a feature request.

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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, Greenopia.com, 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 nycvisit.com, which followed a typical convention and visitor bureau site structure, to the much more animated and multi-faceted nycgo.com, a design that promotes the dynamic nature of the resources available and of the city itself. clip_image001 nycvisit.com on 26 February 2008 clip_image003 nycgo.com 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 nycgo.com, 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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New Online Training – XMLSpy XML Editor


The Altova Online Training team is very excited to have just launched the much-anticipated first module in the XMLSpy training course! XMLSpy Module 1* provides an introduction to XML and the XMLSpy XML editor:   xmlspy-training   In this beginner-level module, students start with an overview of XML,  including the anatomy of XML documents and schemas. After a brief tour of the XMLSpy user interface, you’ll create an XML Schema and walk through the steps of defining a namespace, creating a content model, adding elements, configuring schema views, and generating sample XML files and schema documentation. Then it’s time to create an XML document based on the schema. By the end of this module, you will be able to enter data in XMLSpy’s grid view and text view, perform well-formedness and validity checks, add new elements, and modify your schema while working on our XML document. Detailed tutorials walk you step-by-step through each task, and you can test what you’ve learned using the interactive quizzes for each chapter. Check out the free XMLSpy training module* now, or visit the Altova Online Training page for a complete list of available training topics, including MapForce, StyleVision, XBRL, and more. All Altova Online Training courses are available on-demand and free-of-charge.   *See Altova Online Training System Requirements for supported browsers, etc.

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Wrycan / NAVSEA Case Study



Overview

The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine, is a division of Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA), the largest of the United States Navy’s five systems commands. They approached Wrycan, an Altova partner focused on content-centric XML expertise, for help converting some of their legacy format technical manuals to XML based on the Navy ETM XML DTD and recreating them as PDFs. The shipyard had been given a mandate to start utilizing XML as their primary data and storage format and needed a low cost and reliable publishing solution that could be easily maintained by their in-house workforce. Wrycan had some experience working with the Altova MissionKit for XML development, as well as a broad expertise in XML technologies including XML, XSL:FO, and DTD. They chose to use XMLSpy, StyleVision, and Authentic as the development tools for this implementation because of their intuitiveness, ease-of-use, and low price tag.

The Challenge

The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard needed to convert about 10,000 pages of content from a legacy format into XML that was conformant to their DTD. This included an automated conversion, manual review and cleanup, and a command line tool to publish the XML back into its original PDF format. As with any large publishing and conversion operation, the project required heavy QA review post-conversion, much of which could be done by non-technical shipyard employees if they had a mechanism to help them interpret and access the XML markup. In addition, because of the relative complexity of the documentation format, which included complicated page layout details such as a variable number of columns per page and different margin widths, callouts interspersed with sections and enumerated lists, as well as many large schematic models, some of which were on foldout pages, the XSL:FO coding promised to present a formidable challenge.

The Solution

Wrycan performed the bulk of the content conversion in-house using custom scripts and some manual processes, along with some technical QA. After the content was converted, Wrycan used StyleVision’s drag and drop design interface to create Authentic e-Forms for editing using the Navy ETM XML DTD as the structural component. Advanced stylesheet functions such as conditional templates and auto-calculations were inserted to facilitate QA and editing workflows. navsea_design After the content conversion, Wrycan implemented a command line processing tool that includes multiple steps such as:

  • Volume assembly from chunks of XML files
    For greater flexibility and usability, the Navy technical manuals were divided up into sections including Front Matter, Chapters, Back Matter, and image files. This enabled Wrycan to make certain parts of these files available for reuse. Components that appeared identically in more than one place within the manuals could be segmented so that changes made in one place would iterate throughout the documentation.
  • XML to XSL-FO conversion
    Wrycan used XMLSpy, Altova’s full-featured XML editor , to hand-code the advanced XSL:FO that was needed for the manuals. The complexity of the XML and PDF output can be seen in the following examples: Volume source, Front Matter source, Chapter source, and Final document (3.8 MB PDF).
  • Custom page formatting
    This project required various page sizes within one document, such as a portrait page followed by a foldout 11″ x 17″ landscape page. There are Naval documentation requirements specifying that different page formats have different printing requirements. For example, foldout pages are printed on one side only while other pages are double-sided.
  • Post processing steps
    There were also page numbering requirements, such as every chapter must start on an odd numbered page. If this causes a page to be blank, a message indicating that the page was intentionally left blank is placed on the page. These requirements are automatically satisfied by Wrycan’s processing tool.
  • PDF creation
    Wrycan integrated RenderX’s XEP software into the processing pipeline to convert the XSL:FO output, including all images and common content, into one PDF file.

The editing of the content is done with Authentic via Stylevision, which was recently upgraded to the most recent release for more advanced table support and authoring options. Below is a sample screenshot of one of the Authentic e-Forms for WYSIWYG XML editing that was generated for NAVSEA based on the StyleVision stylesheet design. navsea_doc

The Results

The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard now has an XML publishing solution with native XML editing capabilities. They can reproduce their technical manuals in PDF using XML as the content source. They are now ready to move onto the next step, which is implementing a full scale content management system with workflow and custom publishing capabilities. Find out how Altova tools can help with your documentation and publishing challenges. Download a fully functional free trial of the Altova MissionKit today!

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