MapForce – Graphical Data Mapping, Conversion, and Integration Tool

Altova MapForce data mapping illustration
Altova MapForce® 2017 is an award-winning any-to-any graphical data mapping, conversion, and integration tool that maps data between any combination of XML, database, EDI, XBRL, flat file, Excel, JSON, and/or Web service, then transforms data instantly or autogenerates royalty-free data integration code for the execution of recurrent conversions.

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Visual Data Mapping

To use MapForce, simply open data sources and targets as mapping components, drop in data processing functions from the customizable libraries, and then drag connecting lines between the nodes you wish to associate. The built-in execution engine lets you view and save output in real time. More 

Generate Code for Data Transformations

For XML and database mappings you can view and save the XSLT 1.0/2.0, XQuery or SQL execution code. Or, you can choose Java, C++, or C# to automatically generate a turnkey application from your design. This empowers you to implement data integration and Web services applications without writing any code. MapForce-generated code is royalty-free, so you may deploy it without additional fees or deployment adaptors. More 

Mapping Output

When designing a mapping project, the built-in MapForce Engine allows you to perform data transformations on-the-fly and view the output with just one click. Executing data transformations with the MapForce Engine greatly simplifies the process of testing and perfecting complex mappings, saving time and increasing productivity. More 

Powerful, Flexible, Cost-Effective

MapForce offers unparalleled power and flexibility for advanced data mapping, conversion, and transformation, making it the ideal tool for global and intra-enterprise data integration projects. You can easily integrate data from multiple files or split data from one file into many, and MapForce supports chained transformations to empower complex mappings in which the output of one mapping becomes the input of another. More 

MapForce and MapForce Server

After a MapForce® 2017 mapping is designed and tested, it can be executed by MapForce Server to automate business processes that require repetitive data transformations.

MapForce pre-processes and optimizes data mappings, stores them in MapForce Server Execution files for command-line execution by MapForce Server, and uploads them for use in FlowForce Server jobs.

MapForce generates MapForce Server Execution files and deploys them



Visual Data Mapping

MapForce Visual Data Mapping:

  • Drag and drop connection of source and target
  • Pop-up display of node datatypes
  • Automatically connect child elements where appropriate
  • Message window displays validation warnings or errors
  • Project helper window organizes large projects with multiple files
  • Find function to locate nodes in large data mappings
  • Optionally integrate MapForce in Visual Studio or Eclipse
Visual data mapping interface in Altova MapForce

Graphical Mapping Interface

The MapForce interface is designed to facilitate graphical data integration with many different options for managing, visualizing, manipulating, and executing individual mappings and complex mapping projects. The design pane (shown above)is the part of the MapForce interface where you graphically define your mapping components, add functions and filters for data manipulation, and drag connectors to transform between source and target formats.

The design pane includes many user-friendly features that help you to easily work with, identify, and redefine even the most complex mappings. For example, clicking an item name automatically selects it for connecting to another item. Useful pop-ups can be prompted by positioning your mouse over certain parts of the mapping connections where you can view additional information such as mapping target item(s) or datatype.

Connections are easily moved by clicking and dragging to the desired target, and duplicate connectors (from the same source to another target) can be created by dragging a connection while simply holding down the CTRL key. Activating the autoconnect child items icon allows you to automatically connect all child items of the same name under the parent item.

When you move a component in the mapping window, visual auto-alignment guidelines appear, allowing you to align the component to any other component.

Data mapping function library window in Altova MapForce
Data mapping overview window in Altova MapForce
XML Schema generation in Altova MapForce

Function Libraries Window

MapForce provides an extensible library of data processing functions, which are available in the library window of the design interface. The library window displays the libraries and individual functions in a hierarchical tree structure you can expand and collapse. To add a function to your mapping, simply drag it from the library into the design pane.

Overview Window

The MapForce overview window allows you to visualize an entire data mapping project and zoom in on specific areas as needed.The overview window indicates your position within the map as you scroll through the design pane. This feature helps you navigate even the largest data mapping project with ease.

Schema Generation and Editing

If you do not have an associated schema for your XML instance, MapForce can generate an XML Schema when you open or load an XML document. You can edit any XML Schema using Altova XMLSpy by right clicking it in the MapForce design window and selecting the Edit Schema option. (XMLSpy must be installed on your computer.)

Database Query Tab

The database query tab allows you to directly query any major database independently of your mapping. When you connect to a database, MapForce displays its tables in a hierarchical tree in the browser pane. You can then use the SQL editor tab to display, edit, and execute SQL or SQL/XML statements, with auto-complete functionality to assist as you work.

Database query window in Altova MapForce



Debug Data Mappings Interactively

Data Mapping Debugger:

MapForce includes a revolutionary interactive debugger to assist with data mapping design. The debugger allows users to single step through a mapping and see the data actually flow from the sources to the target nodes step by step along the way. The MapForce debugger is supported with menu commands, a special toolbar, and helper windows that are opened automatically while the debugger is running, so users can trace the intermediate processing operations and examine data values during mapping execution.

In the image at right, the highlighted word “true” indicates the last generated value before execution paused at a breakpoint. Other intermediate data values are also displayed directly on the data mapping window.

The MapForce data mapping debugger provides deep insight into the exact inner workings of data integration and ETL projects in a way that was never possible before, not even in much higher-cost mapping products.

MapForce 2016 data mapping debug overview

Setting Debug Breakpoints

The MapForce debugger supports breakpoint functionality that will be familiar to developers experienced at debugging source code. Breakpoints can be placed on any input or output node, to pause mapping execution at that point, and conditional breakpoints are supported.

MapForce debug breakpoint dialog

Debug by Steps

MapForce supports several commands for stepping with various levels of granularity to manually debug a data mapping or continue execution after a breakpoint is reached, allowing users to view as much detail as they need.



Mapping Output Preview

MapForce Output Window:

Depending on the data format of the output component, the Output preview window displays:

  • XML data
  • XSLT 1.0/2.0 stylesheets
  • SQL statements to update or insert databases
  • Flat files
  • EDI files
  • Excel spreadsheets
  • XBRL documents
Preview output of data mappings in Altova MapForce

Viewing Transformation Output

The MapForce built-in execution engine allows you to preview program code and output for XML, database, flat file, EDI, Excel, and XBRL data mappings.

Previously, viewing the output of a mapping was a time consuming process of generating program code, compiling it, and then viewing the results. The built-in MapForce Engine allows you to execute mapping transformations, then immediately view and save the result of a mapping as it would be generated in XQuery, Java, C++, or C# - all in one intuitive window.

The output tab will display an XML file if the target of the mapping is an XML Schema. Mappings to flat files have output in CSV or text files, mappings to EDI targets produce EDIFACT messages or X12 transaction sets, mappings to Excel produce Office Open XML (OOXML) markup, and mappings to XBRL taxonomies produce XBRL financial reports.

When mapping to a database, the output preview displays the SQL commands that would be executed against the database as a result of your mapping. The MapForce Engine also allows you to actually run the SQL script to execute the transformation and make the changes to the database.

Previewing XSLT Stylesheets

MapForce provides several helpful features to assist with the development of XSLT 1.0/2.0 stylesheets for XML-to-XML transformations. As you are visually designing data mappings, MapForce is generating an XSLT stylesheet for you behind the scenes. At any time, you can preview the XSLT stylesheet code by clicking on the XSLT tab at the bottom of the main design window.

In addition, when you insert a new XML Schema, DTD, or XBRL taxonomy into MapForce, you can optionally supply a sample XML instance document to accompany it. If you choose to provide sample data, MapForce allows you to easily preview the results of a sample transformation as you are working by clicking on the Output tab at the bottom of the main design window. This helps to ensure that your data mapping achieves the desired result.

Integration with StyleVision

Integration with StyleVision lets MapForce users automatically view output from their XML and XBRL data mapping projects in HTML, RTF, PDF, and Word by associating them with a template design. This powerful feature allows you to automate report generation by combining the data mapping functionality of MapForce with the sophisticated rendering engine of StyleVision.

When a stylesheet is assigned to your data mapping, simply click the relevant format tab (i.e., HTML, RTF, PDF, or Word 2007+) in the Output preview window to view your report. (StyleVision must be installed on your workstation.)

StyleVision supports dynamic reporting, letting you create layout templates for consistent formatting, while report content is determined at run-time based on the output of the MapForce data mapping. Reports can even include XPath expressions to compute additional information, and a variety of colorful charts to communicate graphically.

Data mapping output in Altova MapForce, formatted by StyleVision

Data Challenges and the MapForce Platform for Data Integration

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Powerful, Flexible, Cost-Effective Data Integration

MapForce Data Conversion:

  • Map data to and from all popular databases
  • Map XML, flat files, EDI, Excel, XBRL, & Web services
  • Data processing functions convert data on the fly
  • Process data from/into multiple files
  • Insert data from REST Services as XML or JSON
  • Direct file input and output (data streaming)
  • Data mapping automation through scripting or royalty-free code generation
Mapping data to and from Excel files in Altova MapForce

Simplified Data Integration

Altova MapForce is an advanced data integration application with support for integrating data with virtually any formats including XML, databases, flat files, EDI, Excel, XBRL, and Web services. With additional support for automating data integration, MapForce is an ideal middleware product for connecting distributed applications in any enterprise, Web-based, or even Cloud architecture.

The data integration process can often seem overwhelming, and this is often compounded by the vast number of large-scale, complex, and costly enterprise integration applications available on the market. MapForce alleviates this burden with powerful data integration capabilities built into a straightforward graphical user interface.

MapForce allows you to easily associate target and source data structures using drag and drop functionality.

Re-usable Data Mappings

Whether it is an XML or database schema, EDI configuration file, or XBRL taxonomy and beyond, MapForce integrates data based on data structures regardless of the underlying content. This means that you can re-use your data integration mappings again and again as your business data changes.

If you need to make changes to your mapping along the way – to accommodate for underlying schema changes, for instance – MapForce offers a variety of automation features that help ease this process. For example, when you re-map a parent element, you have an option to automatically reassign child elements or other descendant connections accordingly.

Data mapping automation with Altova MapForce and FlowForce

Automated Data Integration

For XML mappings, MapForce automatically generates data integration code on-the-fly in XSLT 1.0/2.0 or XQuery, based on your selection.

As described above, MapForce can also generate royalty-free data integration code in Java, C#, or C++ for your data mappings. This enables you to implement scheduled or event-triggered data integration/migration operations for inclusion in any reporting, e-commerce, or SOA-based applications.

Another option is FlowForce Server, an exciting new server product from Altova designed to provide a robust environment to automate the execution of MapForce data transformations and other tasks on dedicated servers, virtual machines, or even desktop workstations.

MapForce data integration operations can also be automated via data integration API, ActiveX control, or the command line.

String Processing of Input and Output Components

MapForce includes a feature to classify any text file component (XML, JSON, EDI, CSV, FLF, or FlexText components) as a string rather than a file. When a new component is added to a mapping it is by default treated as a file. A button has been added inside the component diagram that allows the user to set string processing vs. files.

This is useful when encountering data that is not stored in a file, but arrives in the form of a string of characters. For example, XML data is often stored in a database fields, or a message from a remote server may be formatted as JSON data. This data can be inserted into a data mapping and now processed further in its native format.

Similarly, it may be necessary to generate data in a particular format that is not intended to be saved in a file, but instead will become a portion of a larger output stream.

MapForce supports processing XML, JSON, EDI, CSV, or FlexText components as strings
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Data Manipulation

Data integration projects often require data manipulation to convert input data before it is consumed by the target system. MapForce provides an intuitive visual function builder, fully scalable data processing functions with built-in libraries, filters and conditions, and more, to empower you to easily manipulate data and integrate disparate formats.

Data mapping functions in Altova MapForce

Data Mapping Web Services

MapForce supports calling SOAP and REST Web services directly from within a mapping. You can insert a Web service call into a mapping and supply input parameters and username/password or other authentication. Connect output components to the Web service to pass the result to another component or write it to a file.

MapForce also supports generic HTTP Web services that typically carry custom request or response structures in the message body. MapForce supports both JSON or XML data in the request or response body, allowing you to call virtually any HTTP Web service that requires or returns XML or JSON structures.

Manual definition of settings in the Web Service Call definition dialog allows developers to define settings based on a template URL. This is a convenient step when developers test and refine Web service calls in a Web browser window, since they can copy the URL from the browser to become the template.

MapForce REST service data mapping

WSDL Mapping

MapForce connects to WSDL 1.1 or 2.0-based Web services to integrate their functionality in mappings with any other supported data. You can insert a Web service as a look-up function, source, or target.

During execution, MapForce connects to the service and displays the results in the Output window. You can also generate Java or C# code to implement the mapping.

Legacy Data Integration

As technology rapidly advances, organizations are often left burdened with legacy data repositories that are no longer supported, making the data difficult to access and impossible to edit in its native format. MapForce provides the unique FlexText utility for parsing flat file output so that it can easily be integrated with any other target structure.

FlexText enables you to create reusable legacy data integration templates for mapping flat files to modern data formats like XML, databases, Excel, XBRL, Web services, and more.

In addition, legacy data formats like EDI can easily be integrated with modern accounting systems like ERP and relational databases, or even translated to modern formats like XML.

"We evaluated Altova MapForce against all the major data integration applications in the industry and found it to be the most powerful and easiest to use by far."

Mark Beede
Senior J2EE Consultant for HealthTrans

Using a Web service as a data processing lookup function in Altova MapForce

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