Exploring an Unfamiliar Database with DatabaseSpy

Software developers working on a new app, data professionals in a variety of enterprises, and even database administrators often encounter unfamiliar databases and need a database tool to quickly explore tables and relationships.

Altova DatabaseSpy is a unique multi-database query, design, and comparison tool with a graphical database design editor that empowers users exploring an unfamiliar database to quickly visualize tables, relationships, and even datatype definitions that may be unique among database types.

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Update to Altova’s Database Tool Adds Important New Features

DatabaseSpy is the unique database tool that supports all major databases and facilitates database query, design, structure comparison, table content editing and comparison, and even generates elegant charts from query results.

The recent update of DatabaseSpy to version 2017 Release 3 adds several new features, including the ability to automatically generate a complete DDL script for any database schema.

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Database Features Across the Altova Product Line

We have written previously about database features like SQL Merge for data integration, and summarized database features in the latest release. But if you’ve only used one or two Altova products, you may not be aware of the powerful support for working with relational databases is provided throughout Altova’s tightly-integrated tools.

Database features across the Altova product line

The Altova MissionKit and MobileTogether products include SQL database features with rich functionality for database-related tasks, supporting all major relational databases in their native interface languages.

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XML Validation Speeds Reach New Levels

Let’s take a look at a few of the features recently added to the Altova MissionKit desktop developer tools and complete line of server software products, including screaming-fast XML validation speeds using RaptorXML Server inside XMLSpy,  frequently requested functionality for EDGAR filing validation, support for SQLite databases and the TRADACOMS EDI format, and much more. You can always learn about the latest and greatest new features on the Altova What’s New page.


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DiffDog E-book Now Available

We’ve published an e-book in multiple formats for your favorite tablet or other e-reader.

DiffDog Field Trials e-book cover image

DiffDog Field Trials is a collection of information from the Altova blog, Tech Notes from the Library section of the Altova Web site, and DiffDog product feature pages. The e-book describes a wide range of real-world applications for DiffDog, Altova’s XML-aware diff/merge tool for files, folders, directories, and databases.

You can download DiffDog Field Trials from the Altova Web site in various formats:

· EPUB (1.57 mb)

· Kindle (3.08 mb)

· PDF (11.1 mb)

· iBooks (16.5 mb)

Or, look for DiffDog Field Trials soon in your favorite online electronic bookstore.

Editing EPUB files with DiffDog

As you can see from the list above, EPUB, the XML-based free and open e-book standard by the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF), is potentially the most efficient sharable file format. An EPUB document is based on a ZIP compressed archive containing style information, text formatted as html, and the images that appear in the e-book.

Altova XMLSpy provides powerful support for accessing, editing, validating and previewing EPUB 2.x documents. We used XMLSpy to assemble the EPUB version of our book, where we were able to interactively preview the result as we worked:
XMLSpy EPUB Preview Window Read more…

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XML Development with Database Integration

Did you know that XMLSpy connects to relational databases? One of the most compelling features of the Altova MissionKit is that numerous tools in the suite include offer deep integration with relational databases, providing seamless access to back end data for bi-directional conversion, integration, analysis, and reporting. image Let’s take a look at what you can do when you connect XMLSpy to your databases. Other database-enabled MissionKit tools will be covered in subsequent posts.All popular relational databases are supported in XMLSpy:

  • Microsoft® SQL Server® 2000, 2005, 2008
  • IBM DB2® 8, 9
  • Oracle® 9i, 10g, 11g
  • Sybase® 12
  • MySQL® 4, 5
  • PostgreSQL 8
  • Microsoft Access 2003, 2007

First step: Connect to and query the database

When you select Query Database from the DB menu, XMLSpy helps you connect to your database with the step-by-step Database Connection Wizard. Then, the DB Query window makes it easy to explore and/or edit data in the database you’re working with, either by opening existing SQL files or creating SQL scripts from scratch using drag-and-drop and auto-complete functionality. Once you execute your query, you can edit the database data in the results window, review changed fields (highlighted in pink), and commit the changes back to the database. Querying a database in XMLSpy

Next: Convert between XML and databases

Another common requirement is converting between XML and database models, and XMLSpy supports this in both directions. You can easily export database data to XML. If no schema is required, you can simply export the data to XML in its basic tabular format. Or, you can use the Create XML Schema from DB Structure option first, then import database data maintaining all the relationships and dependencies defined in the content model. Numerous options are available to specify the format of the schema, whether columns should be imported as elements or attributes, and the database constraints that should be generated in the XML Schema. Get schema from DB data Or, to go in the other direction, it’s just as easy to go from XML to a relational model in XMLSpy. The Export to Database dialog (accessed via the Convert menu) allows you to specify where to start the export, how to handle export fields, and which elements to include. Then, the data is instantly converted and stored in your database. image For times when you want to define a database with the same rules as an existing XML Schema, the Create DB Structure from XML Schema dialog lets you do so with numerous options. Any identity constraints included in the schema will automatically transfer to the database structure. Alternatively, it’s easy to define relationships between elements manually. Learn more about all these features for working with XML and databases in XMLSpy, or check out all the database tools available in the MissionKit.

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Creating XML from Relational Databases

Sometimes following an example someone else created is a good way to get a quick start on a project. The downside is you might miss a better, more efficient solution. In our recent post on XML in the Cloud, we used DatabaseSpy to connect to a local MySQL database and to the Amazon Relational Database Service in the cloud. We used the Concat( ) function in a SQL SELECT statement to create XML formatted output from non-XML data as shown below. DatabaseSpy SQL query and result Our SELECT statement was based on an example in the MySQL documentation on XML support. Let’s take a little deeper look at the problem this statement tries to address. You can copy a DatabaseSpy Results table like the one displayed above and paste it into an editing window in XMLSpy, but the Results table alone does not create a well-formed XML document. To be well formed according to the W3C definition, an XML document must contain a root element. All other elements and logical structures must nest within the root. You can also think of the root element as a wrapper around the entire XML content, the same way the element <city></city> encloses each line in our original results. A Better Way to Create XML from Relational Data We don’t need to manually edit the results to add a root element, nor do we need to adapt our already-complicated SQL query to add the root. DatabaseSpy lets us easily export well-formed XML documents from database tables that contain ordinary data like our cities table. In the DatabaseSpy Export dialog we can choose XML Structure as the output format, click the cities table to select it from the database hierarchy, and choose XMLSpy as the destination. The Preview section at the bottom of the Export dialog shows a view into the table contents. DatabaseSpy Export Dialog When we click the Export button, DatabaseSpy formats the relational data with XML element names derived from the column names of the table and sends the resulting output directly to XMLSpy. The screenshot below shows a portion of the file in XMLSpy. The Message window at the bottom verifies the file is well formed. XMLSpy Editing window and Message window Note that DatabaseSpy supplied the root element <Import name = “cities”> and added comments to describe the datatypes of the database table columns. And, we did not have to construct a SQL statement with a cumbersome Concat( ) function. We began this post to address the simple requirement for a root element to complete the output of the Concat ( ) function we described earlier. When real-world projects require converting from relational databases to XML, the requirements are likely to be much more complex. Altova XMLSpy connects directly to all popular databases to work with XML technologies and relational data. XMLSpy lets you easily create an XML Schema from a database structure, or create a database schema from an XML Schema. XMLSpy also includes advanced editors and debuggers for XQuery and XPath for XML stored directly in databases, along with specialized support for XML features in Microsoft SQL Server, IBM DB2, and Oracle databases. As more industries adopt and evolve XML-based standards for information interchange, a common need is to convert data stored in legacy databases to XML. Altova MapForce connects to databases and allows you to map and transform relational data to be compatible with one or more XML Schemas. You can use your mapping to perform a one-time data conversion, you can save and re-open your mapping to perform another conversion later, or you can instruct MapForce to generate royalty-free source code from your mapping to include in your own project when repeated conversions are required. If you’d like to see for yourself how well Altova tools can generate well-formatted XML from relational databases, download a free trial of the Altova MissionKit.

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