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At the beginning of December, 2003, my initial tip on VisualScript XML appeared. The tip recounted that XML guru and developer David Webber was behind the SmartDraw product. Last week, I got an upgrade from SmartDraw by mail, so say hello to VisualScript XML 2!
The features of the original release were already pretty impressive, where creating an XML document (or document design) worked a lot like drawing a diagram in Visio: users open a template file, then drag predefined symbols into the work area to create something that models real-world data organization, data flow, data transformations, and so forth. VisualScript XML then translates diagrams into XML statements, by translating predefined symbols into equivalent XML markup and plugging user-supplied data into that markup as needed. You can insert text-entry fields at will, edit them within the diagram, and use them to solicit input data in resulting XML output. Because that output acts like a script to display requested data, manage user input, process results, and so forth, the name of the product makes real sense.
In release 2, you'll find the following new capabilities (discussed in more depth on the SmartDraw "What's New in VisualScript XML 2.0?" page):
- Open an existing XML file, which is translated into VisualScript's graphical symbols, allowing you to edit its contents visually.
- Easy visual method to create drop-down lists of values, which can be supplied on the spot or reference other graphic symbols from an XML document display.
- Assign named types to data field values, including text, integer, decimal, Boolean, date, date and time, and file path.
- Support for VisualScript Expressions, which are evaluated when documents handle data entry. Types of expressions supported include field expressions (provide field values from graphical symbols, called shapes, using syntax #shapename.fieldname#), property expressions (#shapename.this.propertyname#), math expressions (#(fieldnameA-fieldnameB)*0.8), logical expressions (with support for IF, ELSE, ENDIF, and ELSEIF predicate operators), and assignment expressions. These provide great dynamic processing and output controls.
You'll also find support for project linking, entirely new, updated content, and large dynamic drawing areas in the 2.0 product.
If you thought VisualScript XML was worth an initial look, the upgrade is even more worth checking out. If you've yet to look it over, go straight to version 2.0!
Ed Tittel is a full-time writer and trainer whose interests include XML and development topics, along with IT Certification and information security topics. E-mail Ed at email@example.com with comments, questions, or suggested topics or tools to review.
This was first published in February 2004