DatabaseSpy

Altova MissionKit v2011 just launched

I’m very excited about all the new features we’ve packed into the 2011 version of the Altova MissionKit that we just launched this week.

The most eye-catching feature certainly is the charting and reporting functionality for analyzing and communicating XML, database, XBRL, EDI – virtually any type of data – and produce the usual Line Chart, Bar Chart, Pie Chart, etc. Charts are created with a few clicks inside the MissionKit tools and can be immediately shared via copy/paste or saved as image files – that’s right, no more exporting to Excel – or integrated in reports or data entry applications designed in Altova StyleVision. Of course, you can also get the XSLT or XQuery code for generating the chart for use in your own apps using AltovaXML. Here is an example of a MapForce data transformation that directly links to a StyleVision output stylesheet, showing the result in tabular form as well as in a chart:

mapforce-html[1]

Equally impressive is the new UML database modeling feature in UModel 2011, which allows you to extend software modeling functionality by modeling relational databases along with your Java, C#, and Visual Basic software applications. This high-level modeling of databases nicely complements the existing low-level database structure editing of DatabaseSpy to make the MissionKit a complete solution for all database modeling needs.

UModel2011 database diagram

For people working with XML Schema, we have two exciting new features in XMLSpy: (a) a Schema Subset Generator that allows you to generate subsets of existing XML Schemas, which is extremely useful e.g. for IEPD development for NIEM; and (b) a Schema Flattener that allows you to create a new flat schema in just one file from any complex hierarchy of included or imported schemas.

schema-subset[1]

Last, but not least, we’ve added a complete Authentic Scripting Environment in StyleVision to let you create powerful XML content-editing and data-entry applications – including event-handlers, macros, buttons, toolbars, etc. - based on the Authentic platform.

script_project[1]

The Altova MissionKit 2011 is now available in English, German, and Japanese versions and comes in 32-bit and 64-bit versions!

So come and check out all the new features, then download your 30-day free trial to see for yourself how much more powerful the MissionKit 2011 is.

Database Schema Comparison

In our announcement of version 2010 last week I mentioned over 70 new features that we have added based on customer feedback. As I was talking with journalists through the course of the week, I came to quickly realize that people automatically assume that if it is 70 features in one release then those must be fairly small features. But in each case my conversation partner got more and more excited, as they realized that we are really talking about over 70 substantial new features.

So let me begin this series of individual feature articles by talking about database schema comparison, which we’ve added to both DatabaseSpy and DiffDog in version 2010.

We had originally introduced database comparison or differencing in version 2009 of our product line, but originally thought that users would primarily want to compare the actual data being stored in two separate databases. And people did indeed like that new feature and used it to synchronize data between production and development servers or between different types of database servers, and they were very excited that we allowed them to match columns with a drag&drop mapping interface in those cases where the tables were not entirely identical. One of the most frequent requests, however, that quickly emerged was to add the ability to also compare different database structures or schemas themselves.

This led to the new Database Schema Comparison feature of version 2010. Just like before the first step for a database schema comparison is to connect to two databases and select the tables that you want to compare:

We do, of course, automatically map any columns that have matching names, but you can also change the mapping and designate that columns are equivalent even if their names differ or follow other naming conventions e.g. due to a server migration.

Once you have connected the right columns and are ready to start the comparison process, click the compare button in the toolbar. The results will be displayed right away, and in this example DatabaseSpy is highlighting the differences with respect to data types as well as columns that are missing:

In addition to visually displaying the differences between the database schemas, DatabaseSpy also allows you to generate a merge script that will synchronize the schemas between the different databases, and you can choose if you want to merge the changes from left to right or vice versa.

Once you have selected one of the options, a new script window opens and shows you the SQL statements needed to make the changes, and you can execute them directly from within DatabaseSpy.

The same process can also be used to compare databases running on different database servers, which is ideal when you want to migrate from one database backend server platform to another.

And this is just one of the over 70 exciting new features in our version 2010 product line…

MOST WANTED: over 70 new features in 2010 Altova product lineup


I'm very excited that Altova has announced version 2010 of our entire product line today. This new release of our most popular XML, Database, UML, and Web Services tools includes over 70 new features that our customers have asked for.
Instead of pushing some proprietary platform or other hidden agenda, we at Altova believe in delivering exactly those features that our users need the most. We’ve listened to your feedback via our discussion forums, support requests, and social networking sites and put together a list of the MOST WANTED features that will help you stay at the cutting edge of technology and deliver the best results.
Several key feature areas are: a totally new design paradigm in StyleVision that makes stylesheet design more productive and enables a whole new generation of electronic forms based on Authentic; WSDL 2.0 support; substantial XBRL enhancements; schema comparison/differencing for XML and databases; SysML support in UModel; JSON support in XMLSpy; and much, much more.
I will be writing more about individual features in the future, but for now I suggest you go to the Altova Blog and read the announcement and also check out the press release.

Database Diff: Compare and Merge

When I mentioned our v2009 product launch before, I promised to write in more detail about some of the exciting new features we included. One of my favorite new functions that I use almost on a daily basis is actually available in two products, depending on your needs: it is the new database differencing module with full database compare and merge capabilities in both DiffDog 2009 and DatabaseSpy 2009.

Here is how it works: to compare data between different tables you select one or more tables for the "left side" of the comparison and one or more tables for the "right side":

However, unlike straight text file comparisons, where the differencing process would now start right away, for databases we recognize that the table structure is rarely the exact same, because you typically want to compare data between different servers (such as production vs. development) and one may have new columns, indexes, and the like.

So we give you the ability to define in detail how the tables should be compared. The system is, of course, intelligent enough to automatically match column names that just differ by capitalization or column position, but you can visually create a comparison map to match up other columns with this easy-to-use interface:

Once you run the differencing operation based on the comparison map you've defined, the result is displayed in this unique and intuitive table diff result view:

This view gives you the option to show or hide columns that exist in one database only, identical columns, as well as hiding rows that are completely equal or rows that exist only in the database on the left or the right. This allows you to drill down into those differences that you consider essential.

In addition to finding these differences, we do, of course, also allow you to complete the data migration and reconcile those differences:

You can choose to either merge data from left to right, right to left, or you can create a SQL script for manual review that will contain all the commands necessary to compete the merge operation (DatabaseSpy only):

If you are concerned about keeping a record of the data before the merge, you can even create a restore script for either database that lets you revert the changes made by the merge script if you ever need to do that (DatabaseSpy only).

The database diff feature supports any of the following database server platforms:

  • Microsoft® SQL Server® 2000, 2005, 2008
  • Oracle® 9i, 10g, 11g
  • Sybase® 12
  • MySQL® 4, 5
  • PostgreSQL 8
  • IBM DB2® 8, 9; IBM DB2 for iSeries® v5.4; IBM DB2 for zSeries® 8, 9
  • Microsoft Access™ 2003, 2007

And the coolest thing is that you can compare tables between connections to different database servers, which makes it an excellent tool for supporting a migration from one server platform to another that lets you verify that all data was moved properly.

As always, you can download a fully functional 30-day free trial to test this new feature yourself...

Altova launches MissionKit v2009 including XBRL, HL7, and more

What an exciting day today. This is easily our biggest product launch in several years. Altova announces the new MissionKit v2009 on the blog and in a press release that crossed the wire at 9:10 am today.

I wrote about the final SEC rule on XBRL yesterday, and today you can download a fully functional 30-day trial of MissionKit 2009 which adds XBRL support across XMLSpy, MapForce, and StyleVision. Use the new XBRL taxonomy editor in XMLSpy to create or modify a taxonomy for your company's XBRL filings. Use the new XBRL mapping feature in MapForce to create XBRL instance documents directly from your databases - or, if you are an investment firm, to analyze XBRL filings from multiple sources. Render financial report documents in PDF, Word, Open XML, or HTML from XBRL data with StyleVision.

If you are a CTO, software architect, developer, database professional, or IT engineer and are new to XBRL, we have a great new whitepaper that provides an overview of XBRL for technical users.

But today's announcement is not just about XBRL. In our effort to support various industries we are expanding into the health-care field and are introducing support for HL7 v2 EDI messages and v3 XML-based formats in MapForce.

In addition, we've added tons of new features to all our applications that are based on customer requests, including the following highlights: database comparison and merging in DiffDog and DatabaseSpy; XPath auto-completion, expanded source/revision control system support, and better visualization and editing of XML Schema identity constraints in XMLSpy; auto-generation of sequence diagrams, full source/revision control system support, and an extensive enterprise-grade automation API in UModel; grouping support and documentation generation in MapForce; completely new design manipulation for tables as well as direct template filtering with XPath expressions in StyleVision; and extended native support for SQL Server 2008, Oracle 11g, and PostgreSQL 8 across the entire product line.

In addition to all these new features, we are announcing an immediate price reduction in our US$ pricing as our own special "stimulus package" for the US economy. Our US$ prices are now reduced 13% and more - across the entire product line!

I'll write more about the individual features added to all the products in the MissionKit in subsequent posts... but for those who can't wait, here is the full-list on our What's New page...

DatabaseSpy better than Toad and DBArtisan

According to Redmond Magazine's new article Redmond Roundup: Tooling Around in Your Database, Altova DatabaseSpy is the Redmond Roundup Champion and beats both Toad for SQL Server and Embarcadero DBArtisan - two products that are over four times more expensive:

RedmondRoundup

The article highlights different aspects of each database tool and comes to the conclusion:

"Each tool has its strengths. DatabaseSpy is the best overall in terms of range of features."

The editors further have this to say about Altova DatabaseSpy:

"At $139 [actually, the correct price is $149] for a permanent license, Database Spy is one of the last great deals available. While it's not perfect, it lets you do anything you may need to do with your databases. If this one doesn't meet all your needs, Altova has a number of other discrete tools for analyzing and modifying database structures.

Overall, Database Spy provides virtually all of the features anyone could need to supplement products that store, log or analyze data in relational databases."

I couldn't agree more - to read the full article click here...

To try DatabaseSpy for free, please download the 30-day fully-featured eval version here.

Recent Reviews of XMLSpy and DatabaseSpy

In the past week I came across two interesting recent reviews of our products in blogs that I wanted to mention briefly:

As always you can download a free 30-day trial version of any of our products to try it yourself.

Altova releases Version 2008 of the entire product line

I am very excited! This new release is packed to the brim with new features like XInclude and XPointer support, two-step XSL:FO transformations to allow use of XSL:FO with XSLT 2.0, evaluating XPath across multiple files, direct editing of database data, extended support for Office Open XML file formats, and speed and memory footprint improvements when working with large files in XMLSpy; aggregate data processing and value-map functions in MapForce; refactoring and modularization support as well as enhanced database functionality in StyleVision; 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 and binary differencing in DiffDog; and much more.

We've really listened to our customers and implemented many of these features based on their direct feedback. I'm sure that you will find many of these enhancements and new features indispensible for your every-day work with XML, UML, and database technolgies. Make sure that you check out the MissionKit for Software Architects bundle, which includes all of our products in one convenient package.

In addition, you'll find common enhancements across the entire product line, such as upgraded support for Unicode 4.1, support for Widows Vista, an improved database connection wizard, and more.

For complete details see the press release, our What's New page, or simply download the free 30-day evaluation version. Also seen on the Altova News RSS feed.

Let me know what you think about the new features - post your comments directly on my XML Aficionado blog.