A Simple BizTalk Shema Viewer (XML/XDR/XSL)

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Environment: Internet Explorer (IE) 5, Visual C++ 6 (SP3)

There is no longer any need to
introduce XML. One year ago it was still possible to bounce into a colleague who
would not have not heard about XML. Today it has become a household name.

has happenend is that XML is being incredibly rapidly promoted from yet another
internet format to the de facto ligua-franca of interoperability. Huge
investments are being made in XML based technologies in order to support the
growing need for platform-neutral data interchange in B2B (Business to Business)
and EAI (Enterprise Applicatio Integration) among other. This means that many a
developer who was quietly enjoying the benefits of a hard-won proficiency in C++
will find himself propelled in the unfamiliar, ruthless world of XML.

vendors are now jumping onto the XML badwagon. Among them, of course, is
Microsoft with its BizTalk Server. If you want to learn more about BizTalk I
recommend that you go to biztalk.org or to
the MSDN web site.

Schema (or maybe shemata is the correct plural) are at the core of XML
technology. Their role is to provide meta-data that descibe the semantics of the
data contained whithin XML document (often reffered to as business documents).
Shemas are to replace DTDs inherited from the SGML origins of XML. They are much
easier to write than DTDs and by using XML syntax they make parsing simpler. The
trouble is that, until the W3C finalizes the XML standard there is no real
standard to work with.

Tools, on the other hand, are needed for yesterday (sounds familiar ? ;-). So
what vendors do is that they implement temporary proprietary standards, pledging
to move to the W3C one once it is released. This means that we are going to
have to live with that legacy, but that’s another story…

The microsoft current standard for XML shema is XDR. It corresponds roughly
to a subset of the W3C in its current shape. While being much more legible than
DTDs, XDR shemas are not easy reading either. If you need to drill down into any
real-life example a tool will come as a relief to you. 


XML is about data and data structure. Rendering occurs through applying
sylesheets to XML. These sylesheets usualy live in XSL files. By inluding a <sylesheet>
tag at the top of an XML file you tell what sort of rendering you want for your
XML data.

Now let’s drill down into XDRMDIVW. As you may have guessed it stands for XDR
MDI Viewer. It is a straightforward MFC MDI application that uses CHtmlView in
order to visualize XML documents.

The sylesheet used (xdr-schema.xsl, included in the zip file) can be
downloded from microsoft.com. It renders a XDR shema as a hyperlinked
cross-reference of its parts and make it more strightforward to understand how
these parts relate to each other.

When you open a XML file (for some reason many XDR shemas come with a .xml
extension) the program will create a temporary file, insert a <?xml-stylesheet
type=\"text/xsl\" href=\"xdr-schema.xsl\"?> tag at the
top of it and then append the contents of the source XML file to it. The
temporay file is renamed with an .xml extension and loaded into the CHtmlView
using the Navigate2() method.

To avoid clutering up the disk with temporary files they are removed when the
CDocument is closed (OnCloseDocument).

Side Issues

I’ve used the CHyperLink class by Giancarlo Iovino for implementing
hyperlinks on the about box. I do recommend using it, it’s been just
plug-and-play !

The program also illustrates two useful tricks

  • Using the res: protocol with the WebBrowserControl for loading an HTML resource
  • Subclassing the MDI Client so as to be able to display a HTML page in this
    valuable piece of screen real estate.

Known Limitations

I’ve strived to keep the code as clean as possible but the overall 
funtionnalities could do with some polishing up. Like :

  • File Open Dialog multiselection
  • Better looking and properly updated navigation buttons
  • Proposing more stylesheets (let me know if you have one !)

If you have suggestions and comments I will be more than happy to read them
and collaborate whith you to make this program more useful.


Download demo – 21 Kb (extract BOTH files in the same directory) 

Download source – 61 Kb

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