Review: MAPFORCE 2004

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

As you'd probably guess from the name, MAPFORCE is a data mapping tool. Specifically, it lets you map from XML schemas and documents, databases (all the common types are covered) or EDIFACT messages to XML schemas and documents or databases. Mapping is done in a drag-and-drop environment. As you're working with the mappings, you can preview the output of sample data. When you're set, a menu pick generates XSLT transforms or mapping code in Java, C#, or C++.

MAPFORCE is pretty easy to work with. There's a work area that shows your source and target schemas, and a library of transformation functions that you can use. If you just want to map, say, CustName in one schema to CustomerName in the other, you can drag and drop one element or attribute to another (MAPFORCE will automatically hook up child elements that hav the same name between the two schemas). The function library lets you handle more complex situtions. For instance, you can use a substring component to strip out just part of a source element for the target. Choosing the start and length is mostly a drag and drop process as well; add a couple of constant elements to the mapping and drag the connectors to the right place and you're done.

This version offers much more power for database mapping than did previous releases. One nice thing you can do is use MAPFORCE as an interactive data transformation tools. Use ADO to connect to the source and target databases, then the usual drag-and-drop process to hook up tables and fields. Switch to the Output tab in MAPFORCE, and you'll see the INSERT SQL statements necessary to move the data. If you're satisfied, you can execute the script directly from within MAPFORCE.

If you're using XSLT to transform between XML schemas, or want to move from database to XML and vice versa without writing code by hand, MAPFORCE can probably handle your requirements. Like Altova's other applications, it's quick and attractive, and packs a lot of flexibility and power into a single integrated package.

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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