There are many situations where documents need to incorporate information stored in a database. A simple approach is to generate a report of the data from the database, and then copy and paste the data into the document. Unfortunately, that approach tends to be labor-intensive and error-prone, and can easily lead to out-of-sync documents if the database is updated but the document is not.
To make the process of embedding data in documents easier, Arbortext Editor and Publishing Engine support Data Merge, a framework for embedding data queries in your documents and for formatting the data results for publishing.
Data merge lets you set up query types tailored to your database. When a query is inserted into a document, it pulls current data from the database to complete the document. You can parameterize the general queries, allowing content authors to use straightforward dialog boxes to create specific queries. You can also control how the system handles updates. You can update the data every time the document is saved or published, or you can set it to only update when an explicit update command is given by the author. Finally, you can embed the data in your document as a table, or you can create your own transformation to format the data exactly how you need it for your document.
This presentation will demonstrate how Data Merge works in a simple publishing application, and will also give an overview of how to configure a publishing application to use Data Merge, including defining the queries, formatting the data results, and how it looks from the author's perspective.
At the end of the session, attendees should be able to:
- Understand the limitations of a copy-and-paste approach to data embedding
- Understand what a Data Source is
- Know how to configure an Arbortext application to enable Data Merge
- Know the basics of defining Data Merge queries
- Know how to parameterize queries so authors can create specific queries for specific documents
- Know how to control when data query results are updated
- Know how to control the appearance of data query results in the document, either as a basic table or as an arbitrary document structure using XSLT
About the Presenter
Clay Helberg is a Senior Consultant at TerraXML. He has worked with XML and XSLT since 2000, and with Arbortext software since 2002. He provides consulting and development services on a variety of projects. He has presented at several Arbortext User Group meeting (including the last three PTC/USER World Events). He telecommutes from Duluth, MN.
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