DiffDog

Altova MissionKit 2013

Just in case you missed these announcements last month, here is a quick recap of some of our blog posts about the new major features in the Altova MissionKit 2013:

But there is so much more included in version 2013 of the various developer tools across the entire MissionKit tools suite in terms of new features that we added in direct response to customer feedback:

  • Seamless integration options in Java applications for XMLSpy, MapForce, StyleVision, Authentic
  • Support for embedded XML Schemas in WSDL files
  • Enhanced WSDL documentation options
  • Flexible integration of external programs into XMLSpy
  • Support for CamelCase words in spell checker
  • Option to strip unnecessary whitespace
  • Support for Team Foundation Server MSSCCI Provider for version control systems
  • Table row and column conditions
  • XPath Evaluator extension of XPath Builder
  • Integration with Eclipse 4.2 (adds to support for earlier versions)
  • Support for US GAAP 2012 XBRL taxonomy (adds to support for earlier versions)
  • Support for UML 2.4
  • Support for SysML 1.2
  • Support for displaying .NET properties as UML associations
  • Spell checker for UML model components
  • Print results of directory comparisons in DiffDog
  • Significant performance improvements in DiffDog
  • Authentic browser plug-in for Google Chrome
  • Authentic push installer for browser plug-ins

More information on all of these new features can be found on our "What's New" page

Altova MissionKit packs a punch with new features in v2011r2

I’ve been traveling for a bit, so I haven’t even had time to tell you about the new version 2011r2 of our Altova product line yet. As always we’ve been very busy in the past four months and have added a number of very cool features to all our products. As a result the Altova MissionKit v2011r2 packs a nice punch and shouldn’t be missing from any professional developer’s toolbox.

Here are the highlights among the new features:

  • Huge improvements in the charting functionality that we’ve originally introduced in v2011 with a wide range of new customizable charting features, including Stacked Bar Charts, Area Charts, Stacked Area Charts, Candlestick Charts, Chart overlays, Background images, Color gradients, and customizable axis labels.
  • Embedding external files in XML documents via CDATA blocks (supporting Base 16 and Base 64 encoding).
  • XML Schema refactoring in XMLSpy.
  • Customizable generation of documentation from XMLSpy, MapForce, and UModel via StyleVision stylesheets. This provides  countless options to customize your documentation from adding your logo to creating a detailed in-depth report about your mappings or models for later analysis.
  • Data streaming for file output in MapForce for large ETL projects.
  • Support for IATA PADIS EDI format in MapForce.
  • Automatic creation of reverse mappings in MapForce.
  • Barcode support for QR, DataMatrix, PDF417, Codabar, Code39, and many other formats.
  • Ability to create multiple output files from a single design template in StyleVision.
  • Ability to create ASPX web applications for dynamic data output in StyleVision.
  • Support for BPMN 2.0 in UModel.
  • Code-generation from state machine diagrams in UModel.
  • Word comparison in DiffDog.

And there are many more additional features. Also make sure to check out the latest couple of posts on the Altova Blog that go into more detail.

As always, you can download a free 30-day trial version from our website and our tools are available in English, German, and Japanese versions – plus XMLSpy is also available in a Chinese version now.

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.

Expanded source control system support

Now, XMLSpy has always had its built-in support for revision control systems, including Microsoft Visual Source-Safe and - via the Source-Safe API - a few drivers for other 3rd party source control systems, such as Jalindi Igloo for CVS. But with version 2009 we've gone far beyond that. Based on customer feedback, we've completely reworked the source control system interface in XMLSpy and also added the same level of source control support to UModel, our UML modeling tool, allowing both products to intelligently integrate with all major Software Configuration Management (SCM) tools.

By implementing the new interface in compliance with Microsoft Source Code Control Interface (MSSCCI) v1.1 – v1.3, we've now provided support for all of the following major revision code control systems and many more:

   • Collabnet Subversion 1.5.4
   • CVS
   • Microsoft SourceSafe 2005
   • Microsoft Team Foundation Server 2008
   • Perforce P4S 2008.1
   • IBM Rational ClearCase 7.0.1 (LT)
   • Borland StarTeam 2008 R2
   • SourceGear Vault, Fortress, SourceOffSite
   • Seapine Surround SCM 2008.1.2
   • Dynamsoft SourceAnywhere
   • ComponentSoftware CS-RCS (PRO) 5.1

For the full list of revision control systems and drivers that we've tested, please see our website.

In addition, DiffDog can be used as the ideal visual differencing tool in any of the revision control systems that allow for the configuration of an external diff utility.

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...

MusicXML is music to my ears

Music composition applications like Finale and Sibelius are now learning how to export music notation in MusicXML thanks to a plug-in developed by Recordare, an Altova customer.

Using MusicXML a piece of sheet music - in this case Beethoven's An die ferne Geliebte, Op. 98 - can be fully described in XML:

For the full story on how Recordare used XMLSpy, XQuery, and DiffDog, please see "Altova customer Recordare builds MusicXML-based solution" on the Altova Blog...

Avenue Q and French Open XML

I'm spending a few days in New York with the family and we just saw Avenue Q tonight - absolutely fantastic. I haven't laughed so hard since ... well ... since ... uhm ... probably since seeing Spamalot two years ago.
In an unrelated story, I just saw that Julien Chable has recently published three French articles on his blog about Open XML and using Altova products like XMLSpy and DiffDog:

TechEd, Open XML, and HDR Photography

While being at TechEd in Orlando, FL, last week, I had lunch with Doug Mahugh and we talked about the upcoming ODF support in Office 2007 SP2, the new features in the Open XML SDK, Altova's new support for Open XML diff/merge in DiffDog, creation of Open XML from StyleVision, and data integration and mapping for Open XML in MapForce, as well as various other XML-related topics.

We also talked about some other industry topics and finally came to chat about HDR (high dynamic range) photography. Doug sent me a few links to some of his recent photos, and this one impressed me the most.

I couldn't help it and had to get the software the same day. However, as I had left my Canon SLR camera at home for this trip, I wasn't able to test-drive HDR imaging until I got back home today:

1X5F2686_7_8

Obviously, this isn't a particularly exciting scene - I just shot from our balcony towards the end of the cul-de-sac. I used an automatic exposure bracketing of ±2 and loaded all three images into Photomatix and then played with some settings in the tone-mapping to create some vibrant and surreal colors.

But I still like the result quite a bit - it makes me want to go out and take some HDR photos of Marblehead harbor and experiment with other local scenes where the high dynamic range can come into play nicely.

New BIG "minor" release of Altova tools

It's called Version 2008 Release 2, but in reality it should be a new major version. Our "problem" is that each year has 12 months whereas our talented engineers are practically cranking out a new major version every 5-6 months. So we have to call one of them the major release and the other one a minor release - but this one is BIG!

We've updated all the tools in the popular Altova MissionKit bundle with tons of new features and usability enhancements that our customers have asked for. I am most excited about the following, which provide big benefits to our users:

  • Very Large File Support: XMLSpy 2008r2 contains a number of advanced optimizations for working with very large files. These result in a reduction of memory consumption by up to 75-80% compared to the previous version when opening and validating XML documents in Text View. This means that you can now open and work with files that are about 4-5 times larger than those supported in the past!!
  • Extended Open XML (OOXML) Support: XMLSpy was the first XML Editor to directly support Open XML in April 2007 and today we are introducing more Open XML support in these products:
    • MapForce 2008r2 now directly supports SpreadsheetML and allows the user to place any Excel 2007 document inside a mapping project to directly transform data from EDI, XML, databases, web services, and legacy text files to Excel 2007 and vice-versa. This new support for Open XML and Excel 2007 is, of course, also available in the automatic code-generation capabilities of MapForce, allowing developers to generate application code for recurring data transformation scenarios in Java, C# and C++.
    • StyleVision 2008r2 now directly supports Open XML output in Word 2007 (WordprocessingML) to allow the user to generate multiple rich output formats from one single stylesheet design. StyleVision supports the generation of stylesheets via an easy-to-use drag&drop interface from XML documents as well as from databases and is the ultimate report designer that can produce output in HTML, PDF, RTF, and Open XML from one visual design. In addition, it allows developers the creation of Authentic forms from the same design to facilitate XML-based data entry across an organization with no deployment cost.
    • DiffDog 2008r2 now supports detailed XML differencing between Open XML documents, including the ability to directly edit and merge changes across those files. In addition, the directory comparison feature now also supports ZIP file types so that directories and ZIP archives can be compared as well.
  • Expanded Modeling Capabilities: UModel 2008r2 now supports the OMG's BPMN (Business Process Modeling Notation) and is also the first UML tool to ship full support for C# 3.0 and Visual Basic 9.0 - including accurate parsing of new language constructs in these programming languages that directly support XML. UModel does, of course, also continue to fully support Java 6.0 and provides full reverse-engineering and round-tripping for all the above languages.
  • Better Integration Through Global Resources: developers using multiple Altova tools - for example as parts of the MissionKit bundle - can now take advantage of increased integration between these tools. The new Global Resources feature lets a developer define directories, databases, and ancillary files in one central location and those are shared between all applications. In addition, a developer can define multiple deployment scenarios (e.g. test, staging, production) for their XML projects, and also directly connect the output of one application to become the input for another.

The above list has just a few of the highlights that I find most exciting. More details and all the other cool new features can be found on the "What's New" page on the Altova website. There is also a press release being issued today about the new version.

I will also be covering some of these features in more detail on this XML Aficionado blog in the next couple of days - stay tuned...

Where in the world...

... was the XML Aficionado, when he took this photo today:

Where in the world?

It is indeed a grim place, and it is no secret that this is somewhere in Vienna, Austria (since that is quite obviously where I've spent this week - as can be seen in recent blog postings). But the question is: where in Vienna, and what place is this? I'll provide just one hint: DiffDog would have loved that place.

Be the first one to comment on this XML Aficionado blog with the correct answer, and you'll win one single-user license of Altova DiffDog 2008, the essential differencing and merging utility for developers.

Disclaimer: all blog comments subject to review; prize cannot be exchanged for cash; void where prohibited; winner responsible for all taxes and dues; employees of Altova GmbH and Altova Inc as well as Falk family members are eligible to participate, since the location of the above photo is only known to me personally and I was alone when taking that photo; batteries not included; no animal was harmed in the taking of the above photo; if you are reading this, then you (a) are probably a lawyer and/or (b) don't need any glasses...