Sunday , February 25 2024
If you want an easy way to transform XML and database content into eye-catching output, you need to check out StyleVision 2008.

Software Review – StyleVision 2008 from Altova

StyleVision is a visual stylesheet designer that can be used for transforming XML and database content into HTML pages, RTF Documents, PDF reports, Word 2007 (OOXML), and Authentic Electronic Forms. StyleVision is standards-based and supports XSLT 1.0/2.0, XSL:FO, CSS, JavaScript, and all major databases. It has been optimized for single-source publishing, allowing multiple output styles from a single design.

The version of StyleVision 2008 that I am reviewing is the enterprise version. There are also a standard and professional version available. If you would like to view the differences, you can check out the feature comparison list over on the Altova site.

What is StyleVision? It is a graphical stylesheet designer that works with extended XSLT stylesheets, also known in this context as StyleVision Power Stylesheets (SPS). It is used to control the display and entry of data in the Authentic View of XML documents and databases. It is also used to specify the output design of an XML Document transformation.


In StyleVision the SPS is created graphically, it is based on a schema, and can contain dynamic and static content. When a finished SPS is associated with an XML document or database, that document can then be edited in Authentic View. From there you can generate XSLT stylesheets, or generate finished output directly.

NOTE: Altova Authentic is a free XML and database content editor that allows non-technical business users to view and edit data in XML Documents. In this way you can distribute e-forms across workgroups without having to purchase a software license for each workstation.

So what's new with StyleVision 2008?

• Native support for OOXML – this is the new Microsoft Office 2007 specification. You can now generate the corresponding XSLT 2.0 code for output in a zipped DOCX archive giving you a larger network of users.

• Support for grouping in XSLT 2.0 – this will let you isolate node sets based on XPath 2.0 expressions and then apply a variety of processing instructions to that group.

• Support for complex and simple types in XML Schema – lets you extend the reusability of styles within your design. Styles applied will be reflected in all elements of the same type.


• Database views – makes it possible for you to create and render custom virtual tables based on the result set of a query, thus enabling you to see your results in a configuration of your choice without having to rework the source.

• Inline PK/FK creation – lets you create relationships between database records. It will allow you to add complexity to report designs by creating keys on the fly when they are missing in your source content.

• Support for SQL Select Statements – now lets you use any SQL Statement as input for rendering.

• Sample XML schema generation based on XML instance – gives you the ability to create stylesheets based on XML input when there is no XML Schema available. StyleVision will create a sample XSD based on the structure of your XML instance document.

• Embedded images and image sizing support in RTF – and Word 2007 are now available instead of being referenced externally.

• Native support for XSL:FO styles for page processing – now incorporated so that you can apply advance layout features to your PDF designs directly from within the design interface.

• Project management support – lets you store and manage stylesheets and their components in a project.

StyleVision 2008 is available from Altova. It is $697.00 USD for the Enterprise edition, $339 for the Professional edition, and $139 for the Standard edition. It is also part of the combination MissionKits that are also available. If you're still unsure, you can download a 30-day trial version as well.


While there is a little learning curve to StyleVision, it is not too bad once you get the hang of it. The visual nature of the program will make it easy for designers to create and publish documents. For an easy-to-use single-source publishing and database reporting system, StyleVision is a perfect solution. There is a lot of online help and a PDF User and Reference manual that is over 600 pages in length. If you are unsure if this product is for you, there is also a video that steps you through what all StyleVision can do. If you want an easy way to transform XML and database content into eye-catching output, you need to check out StyleVision 2008.

About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.

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