StyleVision

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.

XBRL Chart Wizard

Now that XBRL has been mandated by the SEC for a while, we have a large collection of financial data publicly available and it is of great interest to both individual savvy investors and institutions to analyze that data. StyleVision has already been great for taking existing XBRL data and turning it into human-readable reports and more specifically extracting some data sets that are not immediately visible in the high-gloss annual reports that companies normally provide.

But the new v2011 of StyleVision takes XBRL analysis to a whole new level! Adding to its XBRL rendering capabilities, StyleVision now allows users to generate charts in their XBRL reports using a comprehensive wizard. This is an enormous benefit to those working with XBRL and can reveal trends that otherwise would remain hidden.

Charts are created by simply dragging a financial statement or other parent node to the design pane and choosing Create XBRL Chart to start the XBRL Chart Wizard.

xbrl chart wizard

Users can customize the data rendered in their charts by selecting the desired category or series values (Concept and Period are default) in the properties dialogs. The screenshot below shows the Concept Properties dialog, where users can select the XBRL concepts they wish to render in their charts.

xbrl charts

The Period Properties dialog gives options on how to handle XBRL periods, which convey the relevant instant or intervals of time for XBRL reporting.

xbrl charts

As with the charting feature mentioned above, chart styles and properties can be controlled using the All settings button in the Chart Wizards and/or by using the StyleVision entry helper windows, where users can select chart type, background color, fonts, alignment, etc.

The example below shows XBRL data presented in tabular form and the same data presented as a chart in HTML. The same data can also be instantly rendered in RTF, PDF, or Word 2007+ simply by clicking on the relevant output preview button.

xbrl charts

The XBRL Chart Wizard is just one of the many new features in the Altova MissionKit 2011 that we released last week. Make sure that you download your 30-day free trial to see for yourself how much more powerful the MissionKit 2011 is.

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.

Altova StyleVision In-Depth Review

Dave Gash published an in-depth review of Altova StyleVision 2010 on the WritersUA website this past week and says in his introduction:

Altova calls StyleVision a "stylesheet designer," but that technically accurate designation doesn't really do the software justice. They could have called it a "schema-based WYSIWYG drag-and-drop XML / XBRL / database visual page editor and XSLT / XSL-FO / HTML / RTF / PDF / Word / e-forms generator," but I'm guessing that wouldn't have made it past the suits in Marketing.

I like that new product description. It’s a bit of a mouthful, but certainly brings it to the point. Really, we couldn’t have said it any better…

Dave follows this introduction with a detailed review of the design method, user-interface, formatting, and output options and covers all the exciting new capabilities of version 2010, such as the new blueprint capability.

And after going over all the relevant features Dave comes to the following conclusion:

StyleVision is one of the most interesting software applications I've seen in years. Without question, it offers a new and unique approach to XSLT transform authoring, a skill formerly reserved for beanie-wearing, pocket-protector using, syntax-obsessing code jockeys such as your humble reviewer. It allows more of the tech pubs workforce than ever to transform raw data into aesthetic, useful pages.

While some coders might lament the loss of a previously proprietary skill set to non-programmers, the fact is that spreading knowledge around is a good thing. Make no mistake: as more people use a technology, the better that technology becomes, and StyleVision's application of the WYSIWYG concept to XSLT is a shining example.

We are delighted to hear that! Please check out Dave’s review and then download a free 30-day eval version to see for yourself.

Electronic Forms design with StyleVision 2010

With version 2010 we’ve added some very exciting new features to StyleVision, but perhaps the most important one is the new forms-based design paradigm that is based on absolute positioning.

Specifically, StyleVision now gives you the option to create templates within layout containers and even optionally upload a blueprint image. This feature adds a whole new flexibility to the design process, letting you approach StyleVision in the same way that you use other design applications - specifying layout first and adding data connections later.

This new feature turns StyleVision from a pure stylesheet designer into a powerful tool for true electronic forms design.

new design

Layout containers can:

  • Be inserted within document templates or encompass the entire document.
  • Inherit the dimensions of the document section or have user-defined dimensions.
  • Be assigned any number of style properties (borders, background color, font, etc.).
  • Contain a blueprint image to serve as a reference template for the design.

Layout container characteristics are accessible through the Properties and Styles windows.

layout properties

In order to accurately produce stunning electronic forms that realistically mirror printed form designs, StyleVision now includes the ability to absolutely position all layout elements, boxes, containers, etc. Instead of having content and layout elements flow on the page automatically like a typical web page layout, you can now specify exact x and y coordinates for each element to absolutely position them on a page.

This feature gives designers and developers more control in their form design in the manner of desktop publishing applications, but also adds the powerful single source publishing capabilities for XML, XBRL, and database data that have always been present in StyleVision.

form design

Read more about What’s New in StyleVision 2010 on our website, or download a free 30-day trial version to see for yourself how important these enhancements are.

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.

Amazon Kindle 2 Review

My Kindle 2 arrived from Amazon today! It appears that I am lucky in this respect, because Amazon had originally announced the ship date as February 25th, and most people are still waiting for their unit to show up. But I had ordered mine literally within 10 minutes of the announcement - so I guess being an early adopter finally got awarded...

As I had promised a few weeks ago, I am providing a review of the new Kindle 2 as a follow-up to my popular original Kindle Review from November 2007. Just like with the previous review, this one is based on unpacking the Kindle 2 and working with the device for about 2-3 hours. I plan to add information about long-term issues such as battery-life in a future blog posting once I have accumulated several days of usage of the Kindle 2.

Unpacking the Kindle 2 is fun. Just like the Kindle 1 the packaging is well-designed and this  resembles a shipping box with a "tear here to open" strip on one side. The package contains the Kindle itself, a thin "Read me" brochure, and the charging cable. The screen of the device shows instructions to plug it in and then push the power switch on top of the unit - for those that hate even the shortest of manuals.

Once you turn the Kindle 2 on, you immediately get to read the User's Guide on the screen, or you can skip ahead and press the Home button to get to your main library page.

Before I talk about the improvements in the software, let's take a look at all the improvements in the hardware of the device compared to the Kindle 1:

  • The Kindle 2 looks much more polished or refined and gets rid of some of the edginess of the original unit. It feels more "solid" and less flimsy, which may also be due to the fact that it is about 10g heavier (468g with book cover for the Kindle 2 compared to 458g for the Kindle 1).
  • The Kindle 2 now locks into place in the book cover / sleeve that you can order from Amazon. The original Kindle fell out of that cover far too often, so this is a great improvement.
  • Another annoying "feature" of the Kindle 1 is now a thing of the past, too: accidental clicks on the Next or Prev buttons. The buttons on the Kindle 2 are still on the very edge of the unit, but the buttons now have their pivot point on the outside edge and need to be clicked inward, which completely prevents accidental clicking. Very clever design change!
  • The new Kindle 2 gets rid of the shiny silvery and strange LCD sidebar that the old unit used to provide a selection cursor on the page or within a menu. Since the new display is much faster and more responsive, the selection feedback is now directly shown on the main screen.
  • The Kindle 2 has a better position for the power switch (top left of the unit) and gets rid of clumsy wireless on/off hardware switch on back of unit, too.
  • It comes with a better power adapter (mini USB plug on Kindle, charger cable can either use desktop USB plug or wall outlet), which is similar to what the iPhone charger from Apple does.
  • I'm lucky to be in a Spring 3G network coverage area, and so I found the unit to have much faster downloads using Amazon 3G Whispernet (only in areas where 3G EVDO service is available). This was especially noticeable when I downloaded all my previous purchases to the new device.
  • The new 16-grayscale display is great, especially for viewing web content, such as Wikipedia, newspapers, or blogs. It's probably not the most important feature, but certainly nice to have and much easier on the eyes than the old display when rendering images.
  • I never really liked the hardware on/off switch in the back or the sleep mode on the old Kindle, but this is now all much more user friendly and consistent: wake-up from sleep mode is now done using power-button instead of "Alt-AA", and it is much more responsive; pushing the power button briefly puts Kindle in sleep mode (artwork screen saver is shown); and pushing the power button for 4-5 sec turns the Kindle off.

In addition to these hardware changes, the Kindle 2 also apparently offers some improved software that contains several usability enhancements. Some of those are more network features and I assume they will be available as an upgrade on the old units, too, but I haven't heard any details about such an upgrade yet. Anyway, here are the software enhancements that I found notable:

  • The first positive surprise was how easy it was to migrate books from my old to the new Kindle. There are essentially two different upgrade paths: you can either just turn on the new Kindle and from the home page access "Archived Items" and it will show you all previously purchased books that are available in your Amazon account and you can download them right there. Alternatively, you can user your computer to go to the Amazon.com website and use the "Manage your Kindle" page to view a list of all your previously purchased Kindle books and send them to the new Kindle from that list.
  • The Kindle 2 apparently has a faster processor, so it comes with Text-to-Speech software built in. You can turn this on from the font-size menu or from the main menu, and you can customize reading speed as well as male/female voice. A nice feature is that the Kindle auto-turns the pages for you if you are using Text-to-Speech so you can still follow the text as it is being read to you. A neat feature, but the Text-to-Speech engine makes the usual pronunciation errors...
  • Another neat feature is the ability to sync devices, if you have more than 1 Kindle. This lets you read a book on one device and then continue from the exact same page on another device, if they are both linked to your Amazon account.
  • The search function now offers 6 choices: search my items (i.e. all books, documents, subscriptions on the Kindle locally); search the kindle store; search google; search dictionary; search wikipedia; and go to web, which lets you enter a URL. The same choices are also directly available from the address bar in the built-in browser, which seems to have gotten some improvements in usability.

So much for the positive experiences with the new Kindle 2. But not everything is perfect and there are a few disappointments that I experienced when playing with the device on the first day:

Mainly, the built-in browser still leaves much to be desired. It is not quite clear to me why it is not built on WebKit like Safari or Chrome to provide proper rendering of HTML pages. If a device like the iPhone that is less than half the Kindle's screen size can render web pages beautifully and accurately, then why can't the Kindle? This is a very bothersome oversight - especially when open source browser packages are readily available in the form of FireFox or WebKit.

Another issue: no doubt it is great that one can shop in the Kindle Store on Amazon.com using the Kindle, which allows you to buy new books on the road and has been a feature of the Kindle 1 from the start (see left). But the world has changed since November of 2007! On my iPhone I can use the Amazon.com iPhone app today and shop all of Amazon.com - not just the Kindle store. Why can I not order a DVD from my Kindle or shop for new electronic gadgets? It doesn't make any sense to just limit the Kindle application to shopping for Kindle books only....

Also, Amazon has unfortunately failed to address the following points that I had raised in my initial Kindle 1 Review over a year ago:

  • It is great that I can send PDF and Word docs to my Kindle via my personalized kindle.com e-mail address. But that is not enough. When I place annotations, notes, and highlights in such documents on my Kindle, I now want to be able to e-mail them back to my office e-mail address and I want to see those comments, annotations, notes, and highlights back in the Word or PDF doc so that I can send it to others in the company. This would allow me to use the Kindle for actually reviewing business documents – it would be fantastic!!!
  • How can I get additional blogs on the Kindle? I am happy to pay extra, but I want to be able to enter any RSS feeder URL into my Amazon account and create a Kindle blog feed for it. Blog authors can now sign up with Amazon to publish their blogs on Kindle, but as a consumer I would like to be able to pick a niche blog and pay for it myself - that still doesn't work.
  • It would be nice, if Amazon could integrate some Social Networking aspects into the Kindle. How many of my friends are reading books on it? What are they reading? How can I post comments about a book to my blog? How can I tell my friends about comments I have on a book?

Last, but not least, I wanted to test whether the Kindle 2 can now receive and process Open Office XML (OOXML) documents via the personalized e-mail address, and I was indeed able to receive, read, and review a DOCX document in WordprocessingML that I had created from an XML source with Altova StyleVision 2009.

So the overall verdict is: definitely a great improvement over the first generation Kindle, and still one of the best eBook readers in my opinion. But it leaves a few things to be desired - especially in the iPhone-age....

Is it worth to upgrade from the Kindle 1? I would say only if you have kids or other family members whom you plan to give the Kindle 1 unit to. The improvements from the Kindle 1 are certainly nice, but they are more incremental than revolutionary.


UPDATE: The Kindle's Secret has been revealed by XKCD:


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...

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.

Creating Open XML documents from XML and database data

The latest release 2008r2 of StyleVision gives users important new functionality for creating advanced stylesheets to publish XML and database data in Word 2007, which uses the new Open XML (OOXML) data format, as well as simpler processes for publishing the same source content in other formats. And, to further ease the transition for developers and designers working with OOXML, we have just reduced the price of StyleVision considerably. As adoption of Open XML increases, StyleVision developers will be ready with a powerful tool for publishing XML and database data in what is sure to be the most predominant end-user document format, now that Open XML has been approved as an ISO standard.

Here is how the process works:

  1. Open your existing XML document or connect to an existing relational database to populate the source pane in StyleVision:
    Sources
  2. Drag & drop elements from the source pane into the design pane and apply styles to them, thereby creating a meta stylesheet for producing the desired output formatting:
    DragDrop
  3. Click on one of the preview tabs underneath the design pane to preview the output in any of the supported output formats (Open XML for Word 2007, HTML, PDF, and RTF) - all outputs are automatically created from one and the same visual design:
    OpenXMLpreview
  4. Save the generated output file(s) as well as the specific stylesheets that have been auto-generated to render your data in the desired output formats again and again...

StyleVision can access data from database tables,views, or you can directly enter a SQL SELECT statement to query only for particular data from a database. This makes StyleVision ideal for flexible database reporting, too.

If you are interested in further details, you can read more about the new features of StyleVision 2008r2 here.

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...

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.