If you missed Microsoft Tech Ed in Los Angeles last week, check out our latest YouTube video for a quick trip to catch up on some of the sights and sounds of the Partner Exhibition. Our team on the scene reported a strong positive response to the XBRL and HL7 functionality in Version 2009 of the Altova MissionKit and many shout-outs from the floor for individual Altova tools — XMLSpy, MapForce, StyleVision, and UModel are all popular in the developer community. IT professionals commonly use DatabaseSpy and DiffDog to efficiently complete everyday database and differencing tasks.
Tags: altova product upgrades, MissionKit, single source publishing, StyleVision, XSLT
v2009 brought a lot of exciting new features to StyleVision, Altova’s graphical stylesheet design tool. Some, like an all-new design for tables and XPath filtering, are welcome byproducts of our support for XBRL and XBRL Dimensions, but still have far reaching uses for working with XML and databases. Let’s take a quick look at StyleVision’s new table design to illustrate what I’m talking about. If you’re already a seasoned StyleVision user, it’s probably already obvious to you that we’ve changed things up a bit. You can now very easily select entire columns or rows for editing. Rearrange, delete, add styles, and even resize using the drag and drop UI or common Windows shortcuts on your keyboard. Of course, any of the designs that you’ve created in a previous version of StyleVision will inherit this functionality as well. For any of you not familiar with StyleVision, it is an award-winning stylesheet design tool and report builder with support for XML, database, and XBRL source content. Using the drag and drop GUI and style entry helpers, you create reusable design templates for output to HTML, RTF, PDF, Word 2007 (OOXML), and Authentic e-Forms. If you chose to take advantage of the cost savings in the Altova MissionKit, you will find that you already have StyleVision on your hard drive and just need to open it up for a test drive. Visit the new features index to view all of the functionality that has been added to StyleVision since your last upgrade or download a free trial of StyleVision 2009 today!
Tags: Altova events, Tech Ed
The Altova team is kicking off our tradeshow year by exhibiting at Microsoft Tech*Ed 2009 in Los Angeles, CA, May 11–15! If you are attending, be sure to stop by booth #355, where we would be happy to give you a demo of the latest product updates, including our new XBRL tools. We will also hold the Altova product raffle – stop by and enter for your chance to win one of ten product licenses!
Tags: Altova, C#, Java, MissionKit, software modeling, UML, UML tool, UModel, Visual Basic
In Part 1 of this series we imported source code into Altova UModel to create a UML project and we examined a class diagram of our legacy ATM application. In Part 2 we created a series of UML use case diagrams to describe user interactions with the system and we planned an application enhancement to implement a withdrawal fee. In Part 3 we designed a UML state machine diagram to further analyze and document the operation of our system. In this installment we will return to our planned enhancement. We’ve been assigned to implement an ATM withdrawal fee of $2 for withdrawals less than $100 and $4 for withdrawals of $100 or more. In Part 2 we drew a use case diagram to show how users will interact with the new feature: From our original analysis of the object-oriented classes in Part 1, we know our system contains a Withdrawal class, which is the logical place to implement our new feature. We can display a new class diagram for the Withdrawal class by selecting it in the Model Tree and choosing from the right-click context menu to create a new diagram. We chose to create a hierarchy diagram so all the properties of the Withdrawal class are visible, including inherited properties from the Transaction class. Before implementing the fee feature, we have a related leftover question to investigate. We wanted to verify that the current code includes a test to make sure a withdrawal amount requested by the user does not exceed the current account balance. A UML sequence diagram will let us trace the execution flow of a withdrawal. UModel can automatically generate sequence diagrams from the operations of reverse-engineered classes. We can select the execute operation in our class diagram and choose Generate Sequence Diagram from the UModel right-click context menu to create the diagram we need. The UModel Sequence Diagram Generation dialog offers several options that will assist with our implementation of the new feature. We selected Automatically update because we will want to update the diagram later after we modify the code, and showing the code in a separate layer can help us focus on the withdrawal logic. The size of the scroll handles indicates we are only seeing a small portion of the sequence diagram in the current window. We can shrink the view to fit the window, but the text will probably be illegible. Instead, let’s take advantage the flexible UModel user interface to auto-hide the Diagram tree and Properties windows, which allows us to enlarge the Overview helper window: We can explore the sequence diagram by dragging the red square in the Overview window. This lets us quickly locate the comparison of the withdrawal amount and account balance. We can also see the error messages that display if the ATM does not contain enough cash or if the account balance is too low. Returning to the Withdrawal class diagram, we can add the fee property and set its default value: We’ll make a first pass through implementation of the fee logic without including the user cancel option. Updating the source code from our model adds the fee property to the Withdrawal class. Then we’ll jump into our favorite source code editor to implement the fee logic directly in the Withdrawal.java file. Testing our recompiled application shows the following: The starting balance was $147. After withdrawing $100, the new balance is $43. The fee is displayed in a new message, and the ending balance is correct. But now the sequence diagram in our UML model is inaccurate because it doesn’t include the fee feature. We can correct the sequence diagram by updating the UML project from the revised source code. The UModel Messages window indicates that changes in the Withdrawal.java file caused the sequence diagram to be regenerated. And, we can easily navigate the diagram to locate our new test of the withdrawal amount to see if the fee needs to be increased to $4. Now that our modified sequence diagram graphically represents updated operation of the ATM, we can be assured the harried driver we met in Part 3 of this series has enough cash to buy that ice cream cone! In our next installment we’ll take advantage of another UModel feature to generate rich project documentation for our work so far – one more advantage of keeping our UML model and application source code synchronized. If you’re ready to try Altova UModel on your own Java, C#, or Visual Basic legacy application, click here to download a free fully functional 30-day trial.
Tags: Altova, C#, Java, MissionKit, software modeling, UML, UML tool, UModel, Visual Basic
In Part 1 of this series we applied the reverse engineering functionality of Altova UModel to import source code from an existing ATM simulation application. We created a UML class diagram to illustrate the application’s class hierarchy and class relationships. In Part 2 we drew a UML use case diagram to document user interactions with the system and we drew several additional use case diagrams to document interaction details and a planned enhancement. In this installment we’ll look at the ATM from another point of view. On a hot summer afternoon, a harried driver spots an ice cream stand with a drive through lane up ahead. Just one problem – no cash! So he turns in at the strip mall parking lot and parks by an ATM in a glass kiosk. Before he even gets out of the car, our overheated bank customer wonders about the state of the ATM. Is another customer with complicated banking business already using it? Even if no one is inside kiosk, could the ATM be out of service? A UML state machine diagram (also called a state diagram) will let us map the states of our simulated ATM and the triggers, events, and transitions between states so we can better understand how our legacy application operates. Let’s return again to our experience running the simulation to get started: When we launched the legacy application, our simulated ATM entered its idle state, awaiting the first customer: Next, it can be helpful to identify and draw additional states in disconnected ovals. We’ll be able to move these ovals around like pieces of a puzzle to find the logical sequence without worrying about the transitions from one state to the next. This preliminary list of the ATM states is only our first rough draft. The state descriptions were suggested by our legacy application’s menu entries, and it’s obvious we can simplify: · There is no difference between Selecting First Transaction and Selecting Next Transaction, so these should be combined · Logging Out is probably not a state, but an instantaneous transition when our user presses 4 at the Transaction menu · We can assign user entry of a withdrawal amount or a deposit amount as sub-states within the Performing Transaction state The third item simplifies our diagram and would also be consistent with our treatment of user entry of the account number and PIN as part of Authenticating User. After we make these changes and add transitions, our diagram looks like this: The simple transitions we’ve added are triggers that cause the ATM to leave one state and enter the next. Also, notice every state has at least one entry and one exit – otherwise the legacy application could force our user into a dead end. The diamond element between Selecting Transaction and Performing Transaction is the UML symbol for a choice of flows. At first it may seem illogical for the application to allow the user to sign out before performing any transaction, but that is an option our legacy application offers in the Transaction menu. And users in the real world have been known to change their minds at the last minute! We were careful to use consistent language wherever possible for our element names and descriptions. The states are named with verbs in the present tense that end in -ing. Transitions are labeled to indicate completion of the action that causes the state to change. Consistent element naming enhances diagram clarity. Once we have a working overview state diagram like the one above, it’s worthwhile to consider what happens if a transition is attempted, but not completed successfully. The ATM user might enter an invalid account number/PIN combination, or an authenticated user could request a withdrawal amount that exceeds the account balance. We can enhance our state diagram to include these possibilities: Now our state machine diagram shows many alternate paths through the application execution, not just the single, all-successful “Happy Path.” We chose a vertical orientation for the layout of our diagram, but there is no rule dictating that form. Some applications will lend themselves to a horizontal layout, or maybe that is simply your personal preference. This illustration shows a small portion of our state machine diagram in horizontal form: Whichever state machine diagram layout you choose, you should not draw transition lines that intersect or overlap. Drawing a UML state machine diagram may seem like overkill for our ATM simulation, since the legacy application is small, and we are all familiar with the way ATMs work. However, these techniques can be very illuminating when you have to work on a much larger application operating in an unfamiliar or complex subject domain. If you are ready to create UML state machine diagrams for your own Java, C#, or Visual Basic legacy application, click here to download a free fully functional 30-day trial of Altova UModel. In our next installment we’ll look in detail at the withdrawal transaction and the new feature we planned in Part 2.
Tags: C#, Java, MissionKit, software modeling, UML, UML tool, UModel
In Part 1 of the Analyzing a Legacy Application series we introduced our ATM simulation app, imported the Java source code into a UModel project, and refined a class diagram to see an overview of the application classes and their relationships. In this entry we will create use case diagrams to document the current functionality of our ATM app and we’ll add to one use case diagram to plan a future enhancement. As we saw in Part 1, when a user runs our ATM simulation, he is asked to log in with an account number and PIN, then is presented with a transaction menu that summarizes all available interactions with the application: With the Transaction menu as a guide, we can create an overview use case diagram that documents user interactions with the ATM simulation: If you are familiar with UML notation, the first thing you may have noticed is the actor in our diagram doesn’t look like the typical UML stick figure. UModel lets software modelers assign any Windows .bmp image file to represent an actor in a use case diagram. We used the Properties helper window to assign an image from the library provided with UModel. A use case diagram is not the appropriate place to define application flow or object-oriented classes, but simply to document how a user (an actor in UML terminology) interacts with the system. We can create additional use case diagrams to show more detail about each interaction. Expanding each interaction in a separate diagram improves clarity by keeping each layout simple and uncluttered and leaves plenty of space to try out different options. We added authentication of the account number and PIN in a note instead of a use case oval because the ATM user is not the actor who performs that step. From real-life ATM experience we can guess (because we haven’t looked at the code yet) that a withdrawal will be cancelled if the amount requested is larger than the account balance. But comparing the withdrawal amount and account balance is not done by the user, so that activity is also not drawn in a use case oval. The arrow inside the Withdraw Cash use case indicates a hyperlink. UModel lets you can attach one or more hyperlinks to any element in your diagrams. A hyperlink can reference a URL, an external file, or another diagram. The hyperlink dialog even lets you define helper text for your hyperlinks. If you define more than one hyperlink, your helper text becomes a pop-up selection menu. Let’s say we’ve been assigned to modify the existing ATM Simulation to charge a fee for each withdrawal. If the withdrawal amount is less than $100, the fee will be $2. If the withdrawal amount is $100 or higher, the fee will be $4. Since the ATM is not stocked with one dollar bills, the fee must be charged against the account, not deducted from the cash withdrawal. The fee will be disclosed before any cash is dispensed and the user will be allowed to cancel the transaction. We can add the new requirement to our ATMWithdrawal use case diagram. We changed the color of the Approve fee use case oval to indicate this is a planned feature that is not yet implemented. Some developers would argue that the note attached to the Approve fee oval is redundant, since the include notation alone signifies that Approve fee is a required component of Withdraw Cash. But lots of people are confused about the difference between include and extend and it’s best to be absolutely clear. We can also take advantage of the UModel Layers feature to place all elements related to the new feature on a separate layer. Now the Layers helper window allows us to show or hide the planned feature in our diagram view. Real world ATM experience tells us a transaction is missing from the legacy ATM simulation. The transaction menu does not offer an option to transfer funds between accounts. From the diagrams we’ve already created, we can see the original application design will make a transfer operation difficult to implement. The user sign in is based on the account number, and it appears that the legacy application does not understand the concept of a single bank customer who has both a checking account and a savings account. If our manager requests the transfer funds feature, we’ll need to have a conversation with our company’s enterprise software architect. A user ID linked to multiple accounts will need to be implemented not only in our ATM Simulation app, but also in the bank database. The Jolt award-winning Altova MissionKit for Enterprise Architects is a collection of eight XML, database, and UML tools for the enterprise software architect who may require UML modeling and database management tools in addition to advanced XML, Web services, and data integration capabilities. Click here to download a fully-functional 30-day trial. In the next installment we’ll look at the legacy ATM simulation from a completely different perspective as we prepare to dive into the code. See ya later!
Tags: database tool, DatabaseSpy, demo videos, IBM DB2, MissionKit, Oracle, SQL Server, Sybase
We’ve just launched the third video in the DatabaseSpy series. Exploring Databases is a tour of the DatabaseSpy Online Browser, a powerful tool for viewing, searching, and analyzing one or more connected databases. Exploring Databases builds on the preceding video, Database Connections, which demonstrated how easy it is to use DatabaseSpy to connect to one or more databases. You can even simultaneously connect to databases of different types. And DatabaseSpy supports the most popular databases in production today, including Microsoft SQL Server, IBM DB2, Oracle, Sybase, MySQL, and more. Once you’re connected, the DatabaseSpy Online Browser shows you an expandable hierarchy of the database structure. It’s a great place to start exploring an unfamiliar database or quickly navigate to any specific element you need to work with in a familiar one. The Altova Flash videos are proving to be a popular feature on our Web site, with close to 350,000 views in all. If you haven’t seen an Altova product video yet, you’re missing a great opportunity to get a flavor for components of the award-winning Altova MissionKit by seeing them in action. If you’re already a fan, check back again soon — we’re in the studio working on more videos right now.