December 22, 2014
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Use XML Even As It Changes

  • February 1, 2000
  • By James Bean
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A Tool For Migrating From XML DTDs To Schema
M igration from Document Type Definitions (DTDs) to Schema can be a challenge. But XML tools such as XML Authority from Extensibility can help ease the burden by bringing the benefits of data modeling and design to the XML world. For this you need tools that can provide the graphical representation of an XML document and its structure—especially the metadata-related content.

The only products I've found to do this thus far are Extensibility's XML Authority—the subject of this discussion—along with Open Text's DTD editing and modeling tool Near and Far Designer. But that kind of paucity should be expected in such a new market. Fortunately, XML Authority v1.1 combines a simple interface with extensive functionality. When paired with the editors and authoring tools in my XML toolbox, the combination lets me model overall design and also deal with the more granular aspects of XML prototyping.

 
Figure 1. Export DTDs every which way. Click here.

As XML Schema looms closer, and has gained both visibility and importance, I've needed to spend more time with migration and transition strategies. In addition to the design and modeling of XML structures, XML Authority provides some of that much-needed capability as well. I can import an XML document (with or without an internal DTD) and not only view the various element and attribute level contents as metadata, but also export the structure of the document, using a number of XML formats. For example, I've been able to export the document structure into XML Schema, XML Data, and XML in the BizTalk framework (see Figure 1).

XML Authority is aware only of what's defined by the structure of the source document, so it doesn't automatically resolve the obvious metadata gaps of DTDs. Also, I have to review the exported XML source and make any necessary changes using the selected syntax. Still, this takes far less manual effort than coding the XML Schema from scratch. Actual effort will vary depending on the DTDs' size and complexity.

Help at data server level
So I can now prototype and test different XML Schema formats, using existing DTDs as the baseline. In addition to its model-level presentation and DTD-to-Schema translation, XML Authority offers a few other impressive features. It can import as metadata relational DBMS catalog information, LDAP information, Java Classes, and COM Objects. This helps in using XML at the data server level.

In a large A2A environment there are always issues associated with extracting content from the data layer for presentation and exchange at the Web layer. Two examples are element naming and data type conversions. By extracting the metadata from the DBMS layer, XML Authority helps greatly in this arena.

Also of benefit to architects are the extensive help text, tour, schema description, and best practices. If you don't have time to wade through the World Wide Web Consortium drafts in detail, use XML Authority's help facility, which summarizes the more important topics. Pricing is $99.95 for one user, then priced by user thereafter—quite reasonable compared with other XML tools.

Overall, I highly recommend this product. It may not solve all of your XML and Schema challenges, but it will help.

—J.B.







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