News From the Expo Floor
June 27, 2000
E-numerate demonstrated Numerator Lite, a Java-based tool for processing and visualizing large sets of information stored and described in XML. While Numerator Lite uses its own vocabulary (Re-usable Data Language, RDL) to handle those sets, it provides a set of generic tools for navigating numerical information. The product promises to bring the same kinds of interactions to numbers that hypertext has brought to text.
Numerator Lite provides a wide range of graphic and charting functions, allowing data set designers and users to create overlays of information, combining information from different sources and letting that information interact. Combining information sets or even modifying information sets (to adjust for inflation, for instance) is supported by the program.
While a number of developers have been looking into SVG as a means of creating interactive graphs and charts (and e-numerate's Russ Davis acknowledged that they were looking into it as well), Numerator provides a larger application framework. The charts and graphs are critical tools for visualization, but the interactive approach to generating and modifying them is what gives Numerator its charm. The price tag doesn't hurt either--Numerator Lite is available as a free download.
E-numerate provides data sets on their own web site, and is building converters from database and spreadsheet formats to RDL. Organizations using XML-based formats can use XSLT or other tools to convert their content to RDL as well.
The firm will also be selling Numerator Pro, which adds support for RXL, a macro language much like spreadsheet macros. Rather than referring to cell locations, however, RXL will let users write macros based on XML structure and content.
Australian software developer Insight has released XMLMATE, an XML editor for Windows (3.11 to 2000) environments that fits on a single floppy disk. XMLMATE is built around XML templates, providing document editors with tree and table-based views of their content, as well as some extensions like a color picker.
Although XMLMATE was created for internal use in other projects "we realized we had something simple and useful, so we exposed it to the public," says Serguei Penkov of Insight.
XMLMATE uses document templates, rather than DTDs, to give users an initial framework for documents, and allows developers to create both document templates and table templates. XMLMATE also provides support for lists, though list and table support both appear to constrain element type names. These limitations may be acceptable in cases where data entry is the primary focus, and XSLT or some other transformation can be used to convert these structures to a final vocabulary or vice-versa.
In addition to working from templates, document creators may import information from ODBC data sources, ASCII, CSV, file folder structures, RTF, and HTML. XMLMATE also provides support for embedding binary information in XML documents, using hex representation. Because there is no widely implemented standard for binary encoding, the usefulness of such embedding may be limited to users on the XMLMATE platform or using converters that can extract the binary information.
XMLMATE will be available from xmlboutique.com on July 1st, though Insight was handing out evaluation copies at XML DevCon. Pricing starts at US$50.