Three-Way File Comparison and Difference Merging

Manually comparing versions of a long XML Schema or document to find any differences would be a tedious and error-prone task. XMLSpy has long featured file comparison with highlighted differences in side-by-side windows with merging in either direction. And of course, DiffDog is the go-to comparison utility for text, source code, XML, JSON, and Word documents. Now both XMLSpy and DiffDog support three-way file comparison and difference merging.

Three-way file comparison is especially relevant for files managed in any source control system where two users may have started from the same source file and made different edits that need to be reconciled.

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XPath Expressions for Data Reporting

In our earlier post titled Use XPath Expressions to Refine Data Selection, we described how to use XMLSpy to develop an XPath expression to select one table of data contained in a much larger data set provided by the US Department of Education.

An HTML report based on XPath data selection in StyleVision

We can reuse the work in XMLSpy to quickly create a StyleVision design for a report or an e-Form to communicate highlights from the data.
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Stop by booth 535 next week at Oracle OpenWorld

clip_image004September here at Altova means ramping up for a busy Autumn, beautiful cool crisp days in New England and… flying out to San Francisco for Oracle OpenWorld 2013! If you are planning on attending come by booth #535 in Moscone South and see Altova from September 23 – 25th for a demo of Altova’s tools for Oracle Users and to see our new line of cross-platform server software products: RaptorXML Server, FlowForce Server, MapForce Server and StyleVision Server. See first-hand how thesclip_image002e new products offer high-speed automaton for projects designed using familiar Altova MissionKit developer tools.

We would love to hear from you about your latest projects and challenges, collaborate on best practices or let us show you some of the new exciting things Altova has to offer. While you are at our booth mention this blog post to receive a special giveaway. Hope to see you next week in San Francisco!

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Use XPath Expressions to Refine Data Selection

In this era of big data we often need to simplify analysis and communication by creating customized views into sections of a larger file. XPath, short for XML Path Language, is designed to allow users to address parts of large XML documents. XMLSpy supports XPath with an XPath Analyzer window and in its interface for charting XML data, MapForce supports XPath functions for XML data mapping, and StyleVision supports XPath in conditional templates, extension templates, and template filtering.


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Web Service as a Look-Up Table to Refine GPS Data

Elevation data recorded by GPS devices is notoriously inaccurate, especially in hilly terrain like the Russian River Valley example from our earlier post.

The final elevation track plotted from the Russian River Valley GPX file is suspicious for several reasons. First, the graph shows we descended almost 50 feet below sea level. That’s hard to believe, since we were travelling along the bank of the river, only about 10 miles from the Pacific Ocean.

Altova StyleVision ChartSecondly, we were headed mostly west, following the river downstream, but the track shows a predominantly uphill trend.

We can evaluate the recorded GPS elevation data by comparing it to information available from the United States Geological Survey (USGS). The USGS operates a Web service that accepts latitude and longitude coordinates, and returns elevation data measured by NASA and assessed for accuracy based on over 13,000 control points in the continental United States.

Using the elevation Web service in an Altova MapForce mapping will let us extract each point from the GPX file, send the coordinates to the USGS Web service, and build a new GPX file with corrected elevation data.

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Creating Elegant Reports for GPS XML Data

In our earlier post on XML for Global Positioning Systems, we mentioned that adventurers and athletes might want to use XML data from their devices to keep a record of their trips, or even training sessions leading up a marathon or other special event. Several colleagues responded by offering example files!

Looking through all this data, we realized that plotting elevation changes over time would show interesting results for many activities. We used XMLSpy to create this customized line graph directly from the XML data to show elevation vs. time for an afternoon of bicycling through California wine country. We even applied the vineyard photo as a background image right from the XMLSpy chart settings dialog.

Line chart generated by XMLSpy

Whenever you want to elegantly present data from multiple XML data files based on the same XML Schema, Altova StyleVision is the tool that lets you design a richly featured stylesheet for repeatable output in HTML, RTF, PDF, or Microsoft Word formats. Here’s how we did It for our GPS XML data:

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The Global Positioning of XML

XML is everywhere. If you don’t believe it, get a USB cable and connect a GPS device to a computer, then browse for any file with the extension .gpx. We quickly found a 2 MB file named Current.gpx on a Garmin GPS. Opening it in XMLSpy reveals XML data and an XML Schema assignment at the top.

XML Schema assignment in an XML file

Scrolling through the body of the file displays numerous <trkpt> tags that record latitude and longitude along with <ele> and <time> tags reporting the elevation, date and time at that location.

View of an XML file in XMLSpy

Any place you may go in the world, XML is there to tell you where you are.

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