Altova tool aims to relieve XML tedium

Noting that data integration projects "rate among the most tedious developer tasks," Beverly, Mass.-based Altova Inc. ( has brought out a new tool that officials say can help to automate infrastructure coding and XSLT stylesheet generation.

Mapforce 2004 is described as a data integration tool that can generate thousands of lines of program code as well as XSLT stylesheets, a process that normally takes hours to do manually, said Larry Kim, Altova's technical director. The new tool was developed following requests from users of Altova's popular XMLSpy XML development environment, he said, adding that the new offering is a separate tool from XMLSpy.

Despite the early hype that XML would magically solve data integration problems, developers have found that a lot of coding is still required to complete any integration of diverse systems with different data models.

"Once you've made the decision to use XML as the solution for integrating heterogeneous enterprise systems, you find that there's still quite a lot of work that lies ahead," Kim said. "It's the right decision, but it's still a tedious task to integrate all the systems, all the code you'll need to write in different programming languages against different databases to get them working together."

Mapforce 2004 is a visual data integration tool developers can use to auto-generate custom data mapping code in multiple output languages, such as XSLT and Java, to enable programmatic XML-to-XML or database-to-XML data transformations, according to Altova reps.

"Essentially it does all of the plumbing of a data integration project," Kim explained. "That would include all of the infrastructure methods and code. That's substantial. Sometimes it could be more than half of the application."

It thus frees developers to concentrate on the business logic of the application, which Kim contends is a better use of developer time and skills than infrastructure coding.

About the Author

Rich Seeley is Web Editor for Campus Technology.


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