Review: STYLEVISION 2004

starting at $249
Altova, Inc.
Beverly, Massachusetts
(978) 816-1600

STYLEVISION is a graphical designer for XSLT stylesheets - among other things. A part of the XMLSPY line of products from Altova, the new 2004 release offers a wider variety of ways to look at XML data than ever before. You begine the process of working with STYLEVISION by loading a schema file and some sample XML data. At that point, the tabbed interface has six different tabs:

  • Design: This is where you build up your stylesheet by dragging and dropping elements from a treeview of what's in the schema.
  • Authentic Preview: This view is unique to the Altova products. It provides a formatted, editable view of the underlying XML.
  • XSLT Stylesheet: This is the raw XSLT.
  • HTML Preview: This is the result of applying the XSLT to the XML.
  • XSL-FO: This is the raw XSL-FO file generated from the design.
  • PDF Preview: This is an Adobe Acrobat file produced by applying the XSL-FO to the XML. Using this tab requires you to have an XSL-FO processor installed; Altova's Web site will let you download the Apache version wrapped in a nice installer.

STYLEVISION is well-engineered to let you display data the way you'd like it. It's easy to format the resulting HTML (and the PDF is usually quite close), to display repeating data in a table, or to insert images. In Authentic view, a change in one part of the XML (such as the name of a linked graphic) can result in an immediate change in the on-screen display.

Even spiffier, this latest version adds database compatability. Instead of starting with a combination of XSD and XML, you can start with an ADO connection to a database. STYLEVISION will determine the structure of the database and use that as a schema, and use the actual data as the source for the views. Among other things, this gives you an easy way to get PDF report output from any reasonable database. (The database functionality is only available in the Enterprise version, starting at $599).

This version also adds a command line interface that lets you perform all of STYLEVISION's major operations from a batch process without showing any user interface. And of course everything works in concert with Altova's other major products, notably XMLSPY. If you're looking for a flexible way to deal with XML data, this is one good place to look.

About the Author

Mike Gunderloy has been developing software for a quarter-century now, and writing about it for nearly as long. He walked away from a .NET development career in 2006 and has been a happy Rails user ever since. Mike blogs at A Fresh Cup.


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