Hello Carroll, and welcome back,
I wonder what other software you have in mind? I don't know of anything other than Monarch, apart from OEM-licenced versions of Monarch, that let you parse append and footer data without programming. So if you need to work from report sources, whether that's HTML, XPS, PDF or plain text, I'd suspect it's a choice between Monarch, re-keying the data, or hiring programmers.
If you're working from database sources, where the data is already in tables, there are a million options out there. All ERP systems will allow some query-building or report-designing from within the system, or if you have an ODBC connection to the data you can use Excel, Access, or more specialist tools like QlikView or Tableau.
The choice of tool depends on what you need to do. Automating the creation of a report from multiple sources is a different job to designing an interactive dashboard. Will the output data be delivered to users or is it input for another system? How critical is the automation, or will it be run by hand? Do you need verification or some automatic audit of the process?
Data mining, according to Wikipedia, is "the process that attempts to discover patterns in large data sets", and I'm not sure that Monarch can offer anything particularly helpful here. If I've got a large data set to analyse, I might throw it at Monarch and build some quick summaries, but it's probably easier to use a visual tool like Tableau for that.
Why don't we just work from databases, and give up parsing reports in Monarch? I think it's generally because the reports are easier to get hold of - without needing access to the underlying database tables and all the security and licence considerations that would entail. But also, someone's already done the work of writing the code for the underlying query behind a report, so we can just re-use that effort to quicky and automatically turn that into the data we want.
BI is a strange trade - I saw a survey that suggested that the "big" vendors had about 50% of the market but that there were a staggering number of smaller firms active in the sector. I guess Datawatch's market share is pretty small in the overall picture, but in the niche sector of report mining, it's probably got close to 100%. No other product lets you teach your computer how to read a document.
If you've got stuck with the help files, I'd suggest first of all having a look at Lesson11.xmod and Classic.prn in the tutorial files, which covers most of the common issues. But if you've got a specific report that isn't behaving, do feel free to drop me a line and I'll happily take a look.
Olly, thanks for probably the most awesome answer ever written on any board!
I didn't have any other software in mind... I just couldn't find much info on Monarch and the Datawatch site did not seem current.
I am being interviewed by phone for an out of state gig tomorrow, and I hope to know more completely what they need after the call. My understanding is that it involves transferring Hospital data into their system for use with a new device that is very close to being approved by the Government. I would assume it involves all kinds of different source data from many varied sources and different institutions; all HIPAA. Monarch was not in the (limited) job description, but if the data is a flat file, Monarch is all I know how to use. (Apparently, it still "rules" the market, so that is good for me!).
Thanks for the heads up re: Lesson 11 and Classic. I will review and get back to you if (WHEN) I have a question.
Thank you again.