Understanding JSON

April 8, 2013

The Altova Blog piece “Editing, Converting and Generating JSON” provides a helpful guide to using JSON. The use of JSON as a data transport protocol has been on the rise and so has the debate about the advantages of JSON vs. XML. The debate has been waging on but the author actually sums it up fairly well.

“But when you boil it down, there are simply some cases for which JSON is the best choice, and others where XML makes more sense. While you might need to choose between JSON and XML depending on the development task at hand, you don’t have to choose between code editors – XMLSpy supports both technologies and will even convert between the two.”

Altova has extended its intelligent XML editing features to JSON editor in order to make JSON editing as simple as possible. Users who begin editing JSON in text view will get lots of help along the way from XMLSpy thanks in the form of syntax coloring, bracket matching, source folding, entry helper windows, menus and other helpful tools. A one click option on the XMLSpy convert menu makes converting XML to or from JSON quick and easy. The ability to edit but also convert items directly within the XML editor program is extremely useful. JSON lovers will definitely have something to look forward to.

April Holmes, April 08, 2013

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

MarkLogic Takes Olympic Coverage From Probable Nightmare to Practical Success

February 26, 2013

Most people never really think about how news organizations transmit data across continents when there is a big event. For the Summer Olympics in 2012 The Press Association relied on MarkLogic’s XML repository’s ability to store and query hundreds of thousands of pieces of metadata per second.

In “How PA Cleared The Big Data Hurdle At The London Olympics” the Press Associations director of technical architecture, John O’Donovan, gives consumers an in depth look at how the office was able to cope with more than 50,000 requests per second.

“The problem with that is having to sit down and design a relational database model that can represent everything that’s in the XML. That takes quite a lot of time, you have to build all of your input/output extenders and map XML objects into relational stores.”

At first look it seems like an impossible task, organizing all of the photos, biographical information, statistics, and competition results for thousands of athletes and beaming it to televisions, phones and computers everywhere, but, by removing the relational database the PA made it possible.XML store instead of storing it in the relational database and then retransferring the data back to XML.

It simplified the delivery system from 100 to 34 man hour days to get off the ground and was so successful that The Press Association will be utilizing the new system for all of its wire and output communications.

Big thumbs ups to MarkLogic’s ability to handle the process and to the PA for finding a new way to utilize an already reliable resource.

Leslie Radcliff, February 26, 2013

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

Altova Release New Version of MissionKit

November 30, 2012

Altova, a data management solutions provider and creator of XMLSpy, recently published the news release, “Altova Announces the Release of Version 2013 of MissionKit” on its website.

According to the article, Altova has released an integrated suite of XML, SQL, and UML tools. It offers automatic error correction and support for SQL stored procedures in data mapping projects. Prices start at $59 per product and are available for purchase in the Altova online shop.

The release states:

“Among the many updates and new features we incorporated into the Version 2013 release, one of the most significant is Smart Fix. Smart Fix is unique to XMLSpy 2013 and is a huge leap forward in intelligent XML editing. It provides options for fixing validation errors that developers can apply automatically, with a single click. It’s true XML alchemy,” said Alexander Falk, President and CEO for Altova. “With increased demands on developers today we are always looking for ways to incorporate efficiencies into our products. You simply won’t find this functionality in other tools.”

Altova’s MissionKit is certainly affordable and the suite offers great tools. However, it only saves you money if you plan on using equal numbers of XMLSpy and MapForce.

Jasmine Ashton, November 30, 2012

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

Easy XML Converter for Sale

September 23, 2012

Perhaps this is useful: Sofotex offers through its site an Easy XML Converter. The downloadable software runs $119, but there is a twenty day trial period. The product description reads:

“Easy XML Converter helps to convert XML files into a variety of formats. Easy XML Converter also has a help screen that tells you which tables (elements) that are related to each other. What you want to convert, choose from a tree view, select the desired columns that you want, making it very easy to set up. The converter also supports batch job. Paths and all conversion functions are set and stored in a schema, which you activate when you are in need of conversion of the XML file.Supported formats: Excel 2003 and 2007, Text, Access (.mdb), HTML and XML”

The page goes on to list these functions: the software can convert several XML files, then merge them into one output file; users can filter converted data; a detail view of the file allows the software to double as a handy XML viewer; and backup folders are available.

We haven’t given the converter a spin yet, but it could be useful if it works as advertised. If you think such a product could help you, try it out for about nineteen days, then decide.

Cynthia Murrell, September 23, 2012

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

XML Exhausting Possibly Too Complex to Last

August 19, 2012

A post on DevXtra Editors’ Blog, “Is XML Too Big? Does Anyone Care?,” poses an interesting sentiment on the size and possibilities of XML.

XML, or the Extensible Markup Language, is too big and can be quite complex depending on the size and purpose of the documents. Syntactic analysis of XML documents are time consuming and difficult, not only for the people completing the task but also for the CPU. The World Wide Web Consortium says that XML “is a simple, very flexible text format.”

The blog post disagrees, stating:

“[…]it’s actually more difficult to parse a large document than to create one. If an XML document is damaged or malformed, software can become very confused, and often, even trivial errors or corruption in the XML document can stop processing. Working with schema extensions can be difficult, and older documents written using DTDs (Document Type Definitions) and Document Object Models (DOMs) can be incomprehensible.”

We think the better question is: “Will people care about XML in two years?” Currently, XML is crucial to exchange data and documents, but will the complexity of the system make it an inexpugnable solution? It is hard to validate using such extensive resources. A simplified system is surely, hopefully, on the way.

Andrea Hayden, August 19, 2012

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

IBM Asserts Its i Technology Can Handle XML

May 9, 2012

IBM asserts that DB2 can do big data, including XML in IBM Systems Magazine’s “i Can Use XML in a Relational World.” Blogger and IBM employee Nick Lawrence writes:

“In this most recent round of announcements, IBM has included support for the XMLTABLE table function in SQL. XMLTABLE is designed to convert an XML document into a relational result set (rows and columns) using popular XPath expressions. This function has been referred to as the Swiss army knife for working with XML because it can help solve a wide variety of XML related problems.”

Lawrence recommends a good XML TABLE tutorial, located in the SQL XML Reference in IBM’s Info Center. He also identifies and elaborates upon areas that he says could use some more clarification. For example, a way to create an XML response document that involves creating the document “inside out.” I guess that’s a technical term?

It’s a helpful piece if that’s the route you want to travel. However, it involves lots of code, lots of fiddling. A bit like mining asteroids we think.

Our question: Why not use a NoSQL data management system? After all, big data is what those do best.

Cynthia Murrell, May 9, 2012

Sponsored by PolySpot

Altova Noses into XML Semantics

March 27, 2012

IT Jungle’s Alex Woodie recently announced some good news for IBM DB2/400 fans in the article “Altova Adds Support for DB2/400 Logical Files in MissionKit.”

According to the article, Altova has now added support for DB2/400 logical files in MissionKit. The latest release of MissionKit called 2012r2, features updates to support for DB2/400 logical files have been added to the XMLSpy, MapForce, UModel, DatabaseSpy, and DiffDog products, which already supported DB2/400.

Woodie writes:

MissionKit includes eight handy utilities that allow IT professionals to accomplish a range of XML, data, and unified modeling language (UML)-related tasks. Anchoring the kit is its popular XML editor, called XMLSpy. MapForce, meanwhile, provides data conversion and related capabilities, UModel allows developers to visually design their application flows in UML, while DatabaseSpy allows users to design, query, and compare multiple databases. Rounding out the suite are StyleVision, DiffDog, SchemaAgent, and SemanticWorks.

These new features are bound to attract IBM i customers due to its powerful data manipulation tools. For more information and free trial downloads check out www.altova.com Since I am no longer receiving spam from MarkLogic and AtomicPR, I am not sure how that XML centric company is responding.

Jasmine Ashton, March 27, 2012

Sponsored by Pandia.com

Data Harmony: Sweet Tune for Knowledge Management Experts

January 10, 2012

Short honk: Here in Harrod’s Creek, we find meet ups, hoe downs, and webinars plentiful and out of tune with our needs. We want to put on your calendar an event that seems to offer a sweet tune about knowledge management.

The Eighth Annual Data Harmony Users Group (DHUG) meeting, scheduled February 7 to 9, 2012, in Albuquerque, New Mexico will focus on helping users get the most from their investment in the knowledge management software suite, which helps users organize information resources based on a well-built and systematically applied taxonomy or thesaurus.

We learned:

This meeting is an exciting opportunity to learn how to fully utilize the power of Data Harmony software to maximize the effectiveness and profitability of your organization for your members, customers and staff,” said Marjorie M.K. Hlava, president of Access Innovations.

You can get complete details from Access Innovations. The widely read Web log Taxodiary  is encouraging anyone who wishes to share their story at the meeting to contact Data Harmony at this link. Registrations are also now being accepted. For more information about the Eighth Annual Data Harmony Users Group meeting, click here or call (505)998-0800 or 1-800-926-8328. We hope that Access Innovations captures their knowledge in a monograph. Too many amateur taxonomists and knowledge mavens pumping out inaccurate or incomplete information. In our experience, the go-to experts gravitate to the performances by the Mozarts of mark up.

Sounds excellent to us.

Stephen E Arnold, January 10, 2012

Sponsored by Pandia.com

Will a Silver Bullet Save Sci-Tech Publishers?

November 11, 2011

I poked around my Overflight service and noticed a recent news release with the meaty title “Scientific Publisher Saving Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars with MarkLogic.” The subtitle was compelling as well: “New Mobile Applications Let Researchers Study in the Field.”

I thought a moment about the logic of the two statements. I am okay with the idea that a scientific publisher faces some significant challenges. The traditional markets for scientific and technical information in traditional journal form are under severe budget pressure. In response to some scientific publishers’ pricing policies, libraries and some not for profit outfits no longer renew certain journal subscriptions. Others have joined consortia in order to get better value for available budgets.

But STM (scientific, technical, and medical) publications have other issues with which to cope as well. First, technology may not be a core competency. Why would it be? Publishers get authors to write. Publishers package and sell. Technology is talked about but even giants like Thomson  Reuters buy print publishing companies in  Argentina. So much for embracing the digital revolution. Even more interesting is that some STM publishers often ask authors pay the journal typesetting, correction, and maybe some production costs. As headcount comes under pressure in research institutes and universities, some scientific publishers are finding that authors are either not willing to pay or not able to get a third party to pony up the money. In short, STM in the traditional mode is fighting for oxygen.

The mobile angle baffled me as well.

In my experience, many scientists work in what might be called “controlled environments.” In the pharmaceutical sector, certain firms operate the research facilities the way a South African gold mine superintendents monitor workers at the end of a shift. If this type of security does not resonate with you, you need to do some backfilling on gold and diamond mining security protocols. Think naked. Think weighing workers before and after a shift. Think requiring showers and filtering the gray water. You get the idea. Other types of research does require mobile devices; for example, cleaning up  a gone-wrong nuclear reactor which is not a job for an outfit like AtomicPR, in my experience. Public relations “experts” write about radiation and often have limited experience with micro-contamination and chemical decontamination. The point? Mobile often has specific requirements which stretch beyond creating an “app for that.”

In a nutshell, here’s the nub of the news release from my point of view:

Taking research into the field has a new, literal meaning with the launch of new mobile applications built on MarkLogic that are helping scientists better understand soil and crops. MarkLogic Corporation, the company empowering organizations to make high stakes decisions on Big Data in real time, today announced the American Society of Agronomy (ASA) launched Science Pubs, developed for iPad, iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry devices. Science Pubs utilizes MarkLogic to give subscribers and non-subscribers the freedom to dig deep into ASA’s journals, magazines, and eBooks while conducting first-hand research and observations in the field.

The point is that a markup language makes it possible to do an app. Puzzled I plunged forward:

“MarkLogic will save us at least $150,000 per year. That is a lot of money for any publisher, especially a non-profit like the American Society of Agronomy,” said Ian Popkewitz, director, Information Technology & Operations, American Society of Agronomy. “We originally implemented MarkLogic to cut the cost of providing critical publications to our subscribers, but we quickly realized several intangible benefits such as speed, ease of use, and flexibility. The flexibility allowed us to focus on the deployment of Science Pubs. ASA is very pleased to be able to quickly launch these services for subscribers and non-subscribers, and we expect them to generate revenue.”

I understand. However, I want to offer several observations based on my modest experience in publishing. Note I did work for a newspaper that was once one of the Top 25 in the world, but the paper is a starved dog now. I also worked for Bill Ziff, mastermind of multiple empires and the magnate other New York publishers loved to loathe, which is what I learned when I was escorted from the New York Times’s president’s office when he learned I worked for the interesting Mr. Ziff.

First, publishers absolutely have to reduce their costs and in a big way. Saving $150,00 is great, but my question is, “How much does it cost to implement a cost saving system such as a MarkLogic or JSON solution (the fat free alternative to chubby  XML), keep it up, and then running at a scientific publisher such as the American Society of Agronomy?” If a system costs $50,000, 100,000, or even $300,000, the publisher has to pay off the system, its maintenance fee, and whip out some products that sell. With revenues at many scientific publishers flat lining or shriveling, the savings are important and may light a fire under the agronomists to cope with a big expense in the name of cost savings. That type of race can be brutal. And it is one that I would be reluctant to enter.

Second, many not for profit organizations and “charities” in the UK are facing declining memberships. Unthinkable five years ago, professional organizations have to market to their members and then spend money to collect on slow paying professionals. Even the certification angle in the UK is not working as it once did. Unemployment among professionals is making it difficult for some experts to pay to be in a must-have organization. Faced with rising costs across the board and decreasing or flat revenue, some not for profit outfits are looking at a nuclear winter, not AtomicPR with a very short half life.

Third, the notion that scientific research has to be peer reviewed in a lengthy, antiquated manner.  Also, the long publication cycles for some STM journals are out of step with the real time culture in fast moving fields. Not surprisingly, the no-cost or low-cost alternatives to traditional journal publishing refuse to go away. In some fields like mathematics and physics, blogs and even social media have become the important channels for dissemination of technical information and making or breaking careers. Even grants can be determined by a Facebook-type of presence. Quite a shift.

My take on this “news story” is that it makes a possibly compelling case that an XML repository can help reduce certain costs. But without the context of total cost burdens, I have a question, “Why not use JSON?” XML is darned useful, but so is JSON.  My concern is that for many scientific, technical, and medical publishers, is JSON a viable option?

The ArnoldIT team is  finishing a report about the outlook for a major publishing company. With more than $5 billion in revenues, this well known firm may be forced to sell its STM business to generate cash. Not even cost cutting can prevent the dislocations that some publishing companies face. The digital revolution has arrived and is now moving in new directions. Many traditional publishers face stark choices and very difficult financial challenges. Alas, no silver bullets today in my opinion.

Stephen E Arnold, November 11, 2011

Sponsored by Pandia.com

A Coming Dust Up between Oracle and MarkLogic?

November 7, 2011

Is XML the solution to enterprise data management woes? Is XML a better silver bullet than taxonomy management? Will Oracle sit on the sidelines or joust with MarkLogic?

Last week, an outfit named AtomicPR sent me a flurry of news releases. I wrote a chipper Atomic person mentioning that I sell coverage and that I thought the three news releases looked a lot like Spam to me. No answer, of course.

A couple of years ago, we did some work for MarkLogic, a company focused on Extensible Markup Language or XML. I suppose that means AtomicPR can nuke me with marketing fluff. At age 67, getting nuked is not my idea of fun via email or just by aches and pains.

Since August 2011, MarkLogic has been “messaging” me. The recent 2011 news releases explained that MarkLogic was hooking XML to the buzz word “big data.” I am not exactly sure what “big data” means, but that is neither here nor there.

In September 2011, I learned that MarkLogic had morphed into a search vendor. I was surprised. Maybe, amazed is a more appropriate word. See Information Today’s interview with Ken Bado, formerly an Autodesk employee. (Autodesk makes “proven 3D software that accelerates better design.” Autodesk was the former employer of Carol Bartz when Autodesk was an engineering and architectural design software company. I have a difficult time keeping up with information management firms’ positioning statements. I refer to this as “fancy dancing” or “floundering” even though an azure chip consultant insists I really should use the word “foundering”. I love it when azure chip consultants and self appointed experts input advice to my free blog.)

In a joust between Oracle and MarkLogic, which combatant will be on the wrong end of the pointy stick thing? When marketing goes off the rails, the horse could be killed. Is that one reason senior executives exit the field of battle? Is that one reason veterinarians haunt medieval re-enactments?

Trade Magazine Explains the New MarkLogic

I thought about MarkLogic when I read “MarkLogic Ties Its Database to Hadoop for Big Data Support.” The PCWorld story stated:

MarkLogic 5, which became generally available on Tuesday, includes a Hadoop connector that will allow customers to “aggregate data inside MarkLogic for richer analytics, while maintaining the advantages of MarkLogic indexes for performance and accuracy,” the company said.

A connector is a software widget that allows one system to access the information in another system. I know this is a vastly simplified explanation. Earlier this year, Palantir and i2 Group (now part of IBM) got into an interesting legal squabble over connectors. I believe I made the point in a private briefing that “connectors are a new battleground.” the MarkLogic story in PCWorld indicated that MarkLogic is chummy with Hadoop via connectors. I don’t think MarkLogic codes its own connectors. My recollection is that ISYS Search Software licenses some connectors to MarkLogic, but that deal may have gone south by now. And, MarkLogic is a privately held company funded, I believe, by Lehman Brothers, Sequoia Capital, and Tenaya Capital. I am not sure “open source” and these financial wizards are truly harmonized, but again I could be wrong, living in rural Kentucky and wasting my time in retirement writing blog posts.

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