Download Example Files for FlowForce Server, MapForce, and StyleVision

In response to an interested reader’s suggestion, the Altova MapForce mapping files and StyleVision stylesheet we deployed to FlowForce Server for the job described in the blog post Taming Bad Input Data with FlowForce Server are now available for download on the Altova Web site at

Altova MapForce and StyleVision sample files

Simply unzip the archive into a new folder and you’ll have all the data mappings, the stylesheet, and other supporting data files all in one place. A ReadMe file explains the contents. You can download fully functional free trials of Altova MissionKit and FlowForce Server at and implement and test FlowForce Server yourself.

Or, execute the data mappings in MapForce and the stylesheet in StyleVision to see how easy it is to extract meaningful information from the GPS data recorded by your own digital camera or GPS device. The example files in the download were also used in Web Service as a Look-Up Table to Refine GPS Data, XPath Enhances XML Reports, and others in our series on working with XML and Global Positioning Systems.

If you’re already an Altova MissionKit user, you can download these files with examples of Web services and user functions for MapForce, and XPath calculations and chart features for StyleVision, and add them to the extensive libraries of MapForce and StyleVision samples installed with Altova MissionKit tools.

Tags: , , , ,

Taming Bad Input Data with FlowForce Server

Whenever you accept data from an outside source you risk encountering errors. We have blogged about this phenomenon in the past in Expect the Unexpected – Altova MissionKit Solves a Number Format Mystery and in the series of posts on Processing the Groupon API.

Bad data in an input file can cause the data transformation step of a FlowForce Server job to fail. When a FlowForce Server Job fails, further execution steps will not be performed. FlowForce Server is designed this way to prevent an error in one job step from cascading into a series of additional invalid results. Happily, FlowForce Server also includes features to help you recover from errors and keep production flowing.

In this post we will further extend the data mapping and report rendering job described in Customizing a FlowForce Server Job to gracefully handle bad data in an input file.

FlowForce Server New Job Steps
Read more…

Tags: , , , , , ,

Customizing a FlowForce Server Job

In our earlier post titled Automate Data Mapping and Transformation with FlowForce Server, we created a job called SimpleMapAndTransform to automate data mapping with MapForce Server and creation of html reports by StyleVision Server. After the FlowForce Server job ran several times, we have accumulated many output files in the same folder we use to process input files, as well as temporary intermediate files in the workFiles folder, as seen in the image below.

FlowForce Server job execution log and working folders

In this post we will enhance the job to create more orderly results and remove unneeded temporary files.
Read more…

Tags: , , , ,

Automate Data Mapping and Transformation with FlowForce Server

Altova FlowForce Server, launched on April 29, 2013, includes numerous enhancements over earlier beta releases and one of the most exciting new features is the implementation of StyleVision Server. Now a FlowForce Server job can automate a complete data transformation workflow by executing MapForce Server for data mapping and pipelining results to StyleVision Server to render a variety of output formats.This post describes a straightforward FlowForce Server mapping and transformation job as illustrated in these messages from the FlowForce Server Log, with the most recent step at the top of the list:

FlowForce Server Job Log showing MapForce Server and StyleVision Server job steps

We’ll start with the GPS log files created by a digital camera. We wrote about these files last January in the post titled Process Multiple Input Files in a Single Data Mapping. We’ll use the mapping output with a StyleVision SPS stylesheet adapted from the XPath Enhances XML Reports post to produce a time and elevation report for each file.A FlowForce Server For-each job step repeats based on the result of an expression. We can use For-each to build a list of files in a folder, then repeat one or more steps for each file. Here is how it looks in the job configuration page:

FlowForce Server data mapping job step

The line labeled Execute function defines the mapping to be used by MapForce Server, and the input parameter {file} refers to each file in the list C:CameraGPSexample*.LOG.We can add an execution step to instruct StyleVision Server to perform the transformation:

FlowForce Server transformation job step

The data mapping creates output files by adding .gpx to the name of the input file, and now we can define the transformation input using the {file} variable with the new file suffix. We chose to create .html output, but we could just as easily create other formats for a multi-channel publishing implementation.The transformation working directory is the location where StyleVision Server unpacks the contents of the .pxf file containing the stylesheet, XML Schema, and other needed components. Using a dedicated working folder will keep the workflow more organized.We want to allow network users to drop new .LOG files into the C:CameraGPSexample folder and we want run the FlowForce Server job on a regular schedule, but we don’t want to process the same files over and over. We can define one more job step to move the processed file to a different location:

FlowForce Server file move job step

The complete FlowForce Server job is a series of three steps that loops for each .LOG file found in the folder. We can set up a repeating trigger for the workweek or any other appropriate schedule:

FlowForce Server calendar-based job trigger

Here is a portion of a .LOG file created by the camera that is an example of one input file:

.csv input file example

We can drop this file into the C:CameraGPSexample folder, where it will be processed based on the FlowForce Server job trigger:

Workflow folder structure

When the timer triggers execution of the FlowForce Server job, the Web interface Job Log page displays this series of messages for the complete job:

FlowForce Server job log for complete job execution

The contents of the C:CameraGPSexample folder now look like this:

Completed work files after FlowForce Server job execution

We can examine the 121130.LOG.gpx file in XMLSpy:

XML file created by MapForce Server job step

And we can open the .html file in any Web browser:

.html output from StyleVision Server job step

In future blog posts we will enhance this FlowForce Server example to illustrate jobs with error handling and more complete cleanup of working files.FlowForce Server is available for Windows, Linux, and soon for Mac OS platforms. To get started yourself, click here to download a free trial!

Tags: , , , , ,

Leverage Your Financial Data with the XBRL Chart Wizard–Part 2

Extensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL) is an XML-based language for reporting and exchanging financial data that’s making inroads across the globe. In fact the US Securities and Exchange Commission now requires public companies to submit financial data in XBRL format.Altova’s MissionKit, a suite of our most popular software, supports XBRL tagging via XMLSpy and MapForce as well as XBRL rendering via StyleVision. With StyleVision you can create sophisticated financial reports including charts and tables based on XBRL instance files. image This is the second post in our two part series on StyleVision’s XBRL chart capabilities. In our last post we showed you how to call the XBRL Chart Wizard and create pie charts. This time we’ll show you how to create bar charts and line charts. Bar Charts Bar charts are the ideal vehicle for comparing groups of objects or visualizing change from one period to another. Here we’ve used the XBRL Chart Wizard to create a bar chart comparing Current Assets to Current Liabilities from the third quarters of two consecutive years. After invoking the XBRL Chart Wizard as we did in the very first step, we select Current Assets and Current Liabilities in the Concepts tab and place it in the Series pane so that these amounts will be reflected on the Y or vertical axis. clip_image001 Now we click the ellipses in the Period tab in the Categories pane to bring up the Period Properties dialog box. Assets and Liabilities are measured at specific points in time and so we have checked the Show instant periods box. We’ve also filtered the data using XPath so that only assets and liabilities at the end of the third quarter (which ends in August) appear. Finally we add a dynamic label that combines “Q3” with the year using XPath. clip_image002 In addition to the bar chart, we’d like to include the Quick Ratio, a measure that indicates whether an organization has enough readily liquidated resources to cover outstanding financial obligations. The Quick Ratio is simply Current Assets divided by Current Liabilities. We’ve added an auto calculation and used XPath to divide Current Assets by Current Liabilities for all time periods in the XBRL instance document. Below is the design view of our bar chart and auto calculation, including the XPath. clip_image003 The HTML output appears below. However we can also render the design in RTF, PDF, and Word 2007+. clip_image004 Line Charts A line chart has a line connecting discrete points plotted on a graph and is typically used to track how financial and other data varies over time. In this example we’ve created a line chart to track two concepts – costs / expenses and revenue – over a four year period. Just as we did for the pie chart and bar chart, we’ve dragged a concept (here, Revenues) from the Schema Tree into the design window and invoked the XBRL Chart Wizard. Likewise, once the Chart Wizard opens, we clicked on the ellipses on the Concepts tab in the Series pane to bring up the Concept Properties dialog box, where we selected the Costs and Expenses concept. Costs and Expenses will now appear on the chart along with Revenues. Our XBRL file includes both instance and duration time periods so in the Period Properties dialog box below (invoked by clicking on the ellipses in the Period tab in the Categories pane) we’ve selected only duration periods, or those with a start and end date. We will now use XPath to filter the data. We’ll create a variable $altova:duration that translates the difference in number of days between the start and end dates of the period into the number of months and then selected data where that variable is equal to three (equivalent to a fiscal quarter). We’ve also used XPath to create a dynamic label combining Q3 with the year. clip_image005 Because our line chart is visualizing changes in revenue and costs and expenses over time, we have used the Sort function in the Period Properties dialog box above so that the data appear chronologically. clip_image006 Although the appearance of the chart (e.g., colors, labels, and visibility of tick marks and axis values) can be controlled with the All Settings button in the Chart Settings section of the XBRL Chart Wizard dialog box, it can also be controlled with XPath via the Dynamic XPath Settings button under Chart Settings (below). clip_image007 This feature provides tremendous flexibility not only in managing appearance but in managing the contents of the chart. Among the many things you can do with XPath are controlling output based on conditions and adding a dynamic title that includes the time period reflected as we’ve done here. Once you click the Dynamic XPath Settings button in the XBRL Chart Wizard dialog box (above), the Dynamic XPath Settings dialog box is invoked (below). clip_image008 Clicking the ellipses next to the property that you want to edit in the Dynamic XPath Settings dialog box (above) brings up the Edit XPath Expression dialog box (below). Here we’ve used XPath to concatenate a string (“Revenues / Costs and Expenses”) with the first and last years in the period we identified in the Period Properties dialog box earlier. clip_image009 The XPath expression entered here will overrule the settings in the Change Appearance and XBRL Chart Wizard dialog boxes – notice in the chart (here rendered in HTML) includes the dynamic title that we built with XPath rather than the title in the XBRL Chart Wizard Dialog Box. clip_image010 As we’ve shown here, the XBRL Chart Wizard provides developers and designers with a highly flexible tool for visualizing XBRL data. With XBRL’s place in the international technology sector firmly established, the ability to leverage XBRL data to support strategic decision making is key. There are a number of different types of companies that are discovering the strategic value of XBRL. Our XBRL case study describes how the Maryland Association of CPAs streamlined their tax reporting and benchmarking processes with XBRL. This case study is a great resource for anyone interested in learning how to leverage this data with Altova software tools.


Have you created something really great with the XBRL Chart Wizard? Or developed an interesting project using StyleVision or another of our tools? Please share your story with other Altova users by commenting on this blog post. Think it would make a great case study? Email us at – if we choose to use your story you’ll receive a $200 Amazon gift card as well as some free press for you and your organization. We’d love to hear from you!

Tags: , , ,

Hot off the Press!

The industry is abuzz with the latest news announcing our release of the MissionKit Version 2011 Release 2. The release is loaded with new features for chart and report creation, enhanced data mapping capabilities, new XML Schema editing functionality, support for the latest version of BPMN, and a really cool new feature for comparing and merging Microsoft® Word documents. clip_image002 Dr Dobb’s and SQL Server magazine are just a few of the industry publications and blogs that covered the launch. clip_image004   clip_image003 Read what the industry is buzzing about and then download a free 30-day trial of the MissionKit and check out for yourself all the powerful new features now available in our suite of XML, database, and UML tools!

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

New StyleVision Training

We are excited to announce the latest updates to our StyleVision online training course, which will help you easily come up to speed on the new reporting and chart creation functionality added in Version 2011, as well as how to create a StyleVision design (.SPS) based on an existing XSLT stylesheet. The final chapter in the course covers scripting, another advanced feature added in v2011. Access this chapter to learn how the scripting and toolbar editor helps you add flexibility and interactivity to the Authentic eForms you design in StyleVision. After an overview of the scripting capabilities, you’ll practice inserting macros, adding custom toolbar buttons and event handlers, and adding forms to your design. stylevision-training Like all Altova Online Training courses, the StyleVision modules are available on demand and are completely free. If you’re not a StyleVision or MissionKit customer, you can download a fully functional free trial before starting the training. We rely on your feedback and suggestions to update our online training classes and deliver the content you need most for your day-to-day work. Please let us know what you think of the new StyleVision chapters!

Tags: , , , , ,