Although Web development companies continue to flock to XML, the process of transforming source system data into XML is still under served by the software market. As a result, companies end up delaying their time to market and paying more for flexible and responsive Web systems.
Enter Data Junction's XML Junction 7.0 Professional Edition, a data conversion tool that automates the transformation process. The product, which runs on Windows 95, 98, 2000 and Windows NT, is available as a free download from www.xmljunction.net until July 31, after which the product will cost $US895 per single-user copy.
XML Junction is based on the company's flagship product, Data Junction, which is a full-featured data transformation tool that lets you map source data to target structures via an intuitive graphical interface. The new product comes with all the same features except that XML is the only target structure it allows.
Apart from a few problems encountered during the conversion process, XML Junction was a solid performer, earning a score of very good. XML Junction provides two visual design tools: the Conversion Designer and the Project Designer.
The data transformation process, which starts with the Conversion Designer, consists of three stages. First, you select your source data, then you define XML as the target structure, and, finally, you map the data to form the completed transformation process.
First, I selected Microsoft Access as my source type, and the Conversion Designer displayed fields to connect to the database. Each source type displays fields specific to its requirements: For example, when I selected SQL Server, I was given a set of SQL Server-specific fields.
Next, I selected XML as the target type and entered the file name to store the results. (Although it's not immediately obvious, you must click the Connect button after entering each target file.) You're then shown the output mode, which is always set to Replace File/Table for XML, and a Target Record Layouts input field, which is used to identify a predefined layout. This lets you use XML document type definitions (DTDs).
The final step was to map the transformation. I didn't use DTDs in my tests, so I had to manually map my source fields to the target. But the process was smooth; I was particularly impressed with the Conversion Designer's capability of transforming information from ASCII-delimited files and Microsoft Access databases to create XML output based on the fields and tags I had selected.
Overall, XML Junction does an excellent job of providing full transformation capabilities. Other companies beginning to support XML are implementing XML database systems but are not focusing on the transformation process from pre-installed systems. That means companies must rely on the support and management of additional database systems. With XML Junction, they don't have that problem.
One warning: The downloadable version of XML Junction is more than 22MB, so be prepared to wait, especially if you're using a 56Kbps modem. But once the file was downloaded, the installation went extremely well. More good news: the downloaded file is the full product and does not expire. I suspect that Data Junction is counting on users being so enthralled with the product that they'll eventually upgrade to the full-featured Data Junction transformation tool, which supports XML at both the source and target types in the mapping process. Until then, companies looking to take advantage of the features that XML provides should consider this strong and cost-effective package.
ENDS THIS ONE
THE BOTTOM LINE
XML Junction 7.0
Business Case: XML Junction provides a rich environment for building XML output for Web-based data exchange. The package offers easy-to-use interfaces, virtually eliminating any learning curve for companies familiar with the core productTechnology Case: XML Junction uses a three-step approach to building XML output files, which are ready to use in XML-enabled browsers or can be electronically transferred to any business that can receive and process XMLPros: l Generates XML output quickly and easilyl Supports several source formatsl Integrates with other Data Junction products, enabling data mining and scheduled executionCons:l Bugs found in the drag-and-drop capabilities of the Conversion DesignerPrice: Available on application from the Web site.
Platforms:Windows 95, 98, 2000 and Windows NTwww.xmljunction.net.