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Subject: [ANNC] UBLish v2.0.alpha (20081006) - Powering Your Spreadsheet WithDirect UBL Generation

2008 Oct 06

UBLish v2.0.alpha (20081006) is now available for early download!

This version primarily delivers the new functionality of converting 
fancy spreadsheet designed with user input data directly into 
XML-instances such as UBL or other document formats.

It implements a sort of "Visual XSLT" by allowing user to specify a 
modified form of XPath in the comment block of each cell whose data is 
to be transformed into the XML-instance.  In this way, user not only has 
full control of exactly where in the XML-instance the cell data is to be 
deposited, the various functionlalities of Excel, such as stylish fonts, 
colored diagrams and images, can also be fully leveraged to produce very 
user-friendly input forms in an extremely
cost-effective manner.

Some new features are:

* UBLish can now "see" colors - only light-yellow and light-blue colored 
cells are processed for XML-Instance generation.

* Light-blue cells are LOCKED cells with automatically computed values.  
So these provide data entry users to see what is the interim computation 
(eg. Totals or Deficits), and also allow the transformed values to serve 
as an Excel-computed checksum.

* Spreadsheets can be designed such that only light-yellow cells are 
unlocked while all other cells (including light-blue cells) are LOCKED.  
This means enhanced data integrity since data entry user's focus is 
brought towards only the light-yellow cells, and that all other cells 
cannot be overwritten nor altered.

* Target document namespace and all other namespace values desired  to 
be used can be stored together with the spreadsheet in   Excel's 
property bag.  Just use "File-->Properties" within Excel,  or just 
right-click the spreadsheet file within Explorer to  alter the property 
values would be all that is needed to let  UBLish know what to do.

* Comment blocks serve dual purposes -
   (1) Free-text form of help text to assist data entry user about   the 
nature of the cell, expected values, required or optional,   etc, and,
   (2) a new line beginning with "Data:" starts off a modified XPath  
expression to "point" the cell towards a specific location within  the 
target XML-Instance.  UBLish would then reproduce the cell's value  onto 
the target instance accordingly.

     This means user no longer needs to "overlearn" the full complexity 
of XSLT in order to begin UBL instance (or other XML instance) 
production.  Just a simple XPath-like expression  (which itself looks 
like a Unix/Linux directory path) would be sufficient.

     User also need not worry about opening and closing tag names, 
namespace declarations, declaring parent element before instantiating 
child elements (UBLish automatically does it), and a number of other 
related details which should not concern data entry user.

* BATCH CONVERSION of an entire directory of spreadsheets is also built 
into UBLish.  This means it is possible to receive a great many 
spreadsheet inputs, such as Order or Invoice, and transform them quickly 
into UBL instances without human intervention.

   Sample usages might be:
   [Case A]
       (a) Design an Order spreadsheet for public users to fill in and 
mail back to an ordering email,
       (b) Mail server deposits the spreadsheet into a preset directory,
       (c) UBLish batch-converts them into electronic orders for further 
downstream processing.

   [Case B]
       (a) Design an Invoice spreadsheet for internal users to bill BIG 
GUY customer who pays only via UBL invoices.
       (b) When billing time comes, fill up spreadsheet and run UBLish 
to generate UBL invoice,
       (c) Service (mail to web-service or other transmission) the XML 
invoice to BIG GUY.

Many companies, regardless of large or small, much desire or even  
require the proper formating of their input forms and output printouts 
even when the electronic form has already carried all the required 
information.  It is understandable since not all environments have 
proper legal supporting framework to fully allow electronic equivalent 
transmissions, leading to the need of a paper-based backup.  In 
addition, a familiar data entry environment allowing minimal upwards 
learning curve would help  to accelerate XML electronic operating platform.

With UBLish, the user-friendly Excel spreadsheet forms can now be a  
single point of data entry for unsophisticated human data entry users to 
fill up data just once.  UBLish readily takes the spreadsheet and 
transforms it meticulously and accurately to the deposit points in the 
final XML instance according to XPath-look-alike specifications in the 
cells' comment blocks, which also double-up as help text.

For further examples and details of the spreadsheet design, please see 
sample spreadsheet at (after installation at default directory):

C:\Program Files\UBLish v2.0.alpha 

(Spreadsheet may be in Excel .xls or OOXML .xlsx formats)

About UBLish
UBLish v2.0.alpha is an inter-schema helper (ish) software that  assists 
in conversions from UBL spreadsheet models into various derivatives like 
UBL schemas, customized schemas, XML-Spreadsheets,  and generation of 
random test instances.  It is an open-sourced project made available 
under Apache License.

All comments, suggestions, feedbacks, bugs, etc are most welcome!

Chin Chee-Kai

UBLish v2.0.alpha (Download):

UBLish Project Site:

XML-Spreadsheet Format Description:

Kopio Project Site:

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