MapForce 2008 Enterprise Edition is the latest version of Altova's graphical data mapping, conversion, and integration tool. The intent of this product is to make it easy to map data between any combination of XML, Database, flat file, EDI, Excel 2007, and/or Web service. Once mapped, it can then transform the data immediately or it can generate code for the execution of recurrent conversions. There is also a standard and professional version available and if you would like to view the differences, you can check out the feature comparison list.
What is MapForce 2008? it is a product that provides a graphical interface for defining and executing mapping between data sources. As indicated above, these mappings can involve a wide range of file types. To map data you first define the source data; that is where the data is coming from, and then you define the destination source, where the data is to go.
Since the information contained within these sources can be completely different, there may be some filtration that needs to go on in between the two end points. For example, if in your source you have a first name and a last name, but in your destination you have a full name, there is a concatenation function that will allow you to merge these two pieces of information together and they will end up as one in the destination. In fact, there are a lot of functions that will help you get the data from one place to the other in the right format. There is even a visual function builder to put together user-defined functions in a visual way to create just about anything you can think of.
Once you have the mapping done, you can then preview your results to make sure that everything is a go. At that point you can do the conversion on the spot, or, if it is something that you will need to do repeatedly, you can generate source in C++, C#, or Java that can be integrated into a program. You can even customize your generated output code using the Spy programming language (SPL).
If you use Microsoft Visual Studio or Eclipse, Altova offers an optional, but free, package for integrating the MapForce user interface and functionality into your favorite environment. This way you will have access to all of the tools right at hand.
So with all this, what's new with MapForce 2008 Release 2?
• Visual Studio integration extended to include seamless support for Visual. It can create a VS 2008 project file when generating C# or C++ data transformation code as well as for prior versions.
• Mapping of Excel 2007 (OOXML) data is now supported. This will allow you to move data to and from the new Excel data format (XLSX) and allow you to develop solutions for those who use Excel 2007.
• Support for data streams in generated code now lets you apply mapping code to Web servers and other data exchange scenarios where transmissions are conducted and processed in packets rather than files.
• Expanded support for relational database functionality gives direct support for SQL SELECT statements to create virtual tables and refine the data exposed in their data mapping components. Primary and foreign keys can be inserted directly in a mapping when they are missing in the underlying database as well.
• Support for SOAP 1.2 has been added to the support for SOAP 1.1.
• Global resources have been added to allow users to define, share, and access file, folder, and database resources across multiple projects.
MapForce 2008 is available from Altova. It is $1090.00 USD for the Enterprise version, $539 for the Professional version, and $269 for the Personal version. It is also part of the combination MissionKits that are also available. Still unsure? You can download a 30-day trial version as well.
I found MapForce to be incredibly easy to use and very effective. The visual nature of the program will make it easy for almost anyone to do conversions. There is a lot of online help and an 850-page PDF User and Reference manual that takes the time to spell it out. If you are unsure if this product is for you, there is also a video that walks you through what all MapForce can do.
If you regularly have to convert data from one format to another then you really need to check out, MapForce 2008. It will begin to save you time and money in making sure that your data conversions are correct. As you progress in your learning of MapForce 2008, you will find yourself using more and more of the toolset and becoming even more productive. I highly recommend MapForce 2008.