5 Replies Latest reply: May 15, 2014 9:54 AM by Mike Urbonas RSS

    Pre-Purchase Questions

    Steve Ralis

      I've been looking for a Flat-File ETL tool for the past several weeks and have narrowed down my search to Datawatch's Monarch and DataJunction's Content Extractor/Integration Studio.

       

      I'm quite comfortable with the Extraction capability of Monarch, but I'm curious as to the Transformation and Load capabilities before I make my final decision. My specific questions are:

       

      Transformation:

       

      1. Does Monarch support complex if queries on specific fields? An example would be "if city = 'New Orleans' and Year(lastsale) = 2002, then salesman = 'Bob'."

       

      2. Does Monarch support a large array of text manipulation functions (ie substring(), left(), right(), ltrim(), rtrim(), and substitute() )?

       

      3. Does Monarch allow you to lookup external values from a list for field population or data filtering?

       

      Load:

       

      4. Besides Excel, what output formats are supported by the application (ie CSV, Flat-File, XML, HTML)?

       

      5. Does Monarch support ODBC connectivity from an output perspective?

       

      I know that this list of questions is typically given to a account manager as part of the product evaluation, but since this forum exists I though I would open it up to the user community at large for an unbiased response.

       

      Thanks,

       

      Steve Ralis   smile.gif[/img]

        • Pre-Purchase Questions
          Tom Whiteside

          Hi, Steve!

           

          Glad to know that after seeing the rest, you’re trying the best.  Before you proceed to the nuts and bolts of comparing transformation and load capabilities, there are a couple of larger issues that may have been missed.

           

          First, it appears that Data Junction’s Content Extractor (DJCE) is severely limited by only being able to extract from text files.  Both the DJ website as well as DJCE’s three page .pdf (Adobe) file repeatedly speak of how to “extract data from any unstructured text,” whether this be from ASCII or EBCDIC text files, print files, reports, e-mail, etc, etc.  Monarch 6.0 Pro is able to extract from text files (.dat, .prn, .rpt, .txt), web files (.htm, .html, .asp), AND to import/join from numeric data files (.csv, .tab, .asc, .db, .dbf, .mdb, .wk*, .xls).

           

          Secondly, Monarch models are simple to create and save and are designed for repeated instances of the same report, whether large or small.  Data Junction’s Integration Engine handles “large” reports by either splitting the file, or, by using separate “query slices.”  Many of Data Junction’s operations seem to rely on “ad hoc” one-time usage, user programming, or users having to set parameters.  Monarch has sophisticated programming capabilities, but is designed to be easily run by the most basic users.

           

          Some of your questions can be answered from the listing of technical specs given on the Datawatch/Monarch website - - be sure to read the Datawatch white papers as well as the Data Junction ones!  Very, very briefly:

           

          Transformation:

           

          1)  Complex If queries?  Yes.  You can nest up to 36 levels of expressions (36 nested pairs of parentheses).

           

          2)  Text functions?  18 specific text and string functions.  All that you listed, except for Substitute().  Substitute() has been a user-requested improvement.

           

          3)  Lookup external values?  Yes, via lookup tables.  Import and data join are also available.

           

          Load:

           

          4)  Output formats?  MS Access, dBASE, Paradox, MS Excel, Lotus, HTML, XML-SS, ASCII & ANSI text.

           

          5)  ODBC connectivity?  Input only.  Monarch cannot export/output back to change or modify source data (e.g., Oracle).

           

          Don’t forget to read the list of custom products on the Datawatch site!  Datawatch|ES is the most comprehensive enterprise solutions product available.  Also, Visual Help Desk, QSM, Monarch, Monarch Data Pump, Redwing, and VorteXML.

           

          Now that your technical questions have been addressed, other users can weigh in with their own impressions of Monarch.  And no, I don’t work for Datawatch.  Just a long-time delighted user.

           

          Tom

           

          [size="1"][ March 30, 2003, 05:22 PM: Message edited by: Tom Whiteside ][/size]

          • Pre-Purchase Questions
            Grant Perkins

            Hi Steve,

             

            I think Tom has just about said it all. I can't claim that I can be sure that you will find everything you want but I don't remember a time when I was stuck for finding a way to get the data extraction and transformation I needed providing the source offered a fair chance in the first place!

             

            I must say I found the lsplit and rsplit text manipulation functions became THE standard tools for many of the reports and data records I have dealt with - but that is probably just something specific to the way the packaged stuff I was analysing had been written.

             

            Life has become easier with each new release of course.  Truly worthwhile additional features have been added at every release point and I think that augurs well for future product development. Complex transformations are quite easy to achieve with relatively short learning curves though I have found only occasional need to get complex.

             

            In terms of Load capability the list of direct export file formats is comprehensive - I have always found a suitable route to satisfy the 'customer' demands. In fact I have used Monarch to establish prototypes for some data extract and conversion applications. On several occasions these development models were then re-written as code or scripts to run on Unix systems simply because they offered operational economies being run on the host system overnight and the power of PC's at the time could not compete, given the data volumes. But the process could have been run completely via Monarch, sometimes limited to be up to the point of final load to the target system, had it been appropriate.  These days it probably would be.

             

            If Load is a primary function for you rather than occasional as it is for me, you might look at the Monarch Data Pump application which offers features dedicated to data transformation and conversion works.

             

            One thing Tom did not mention are the little utility programs Datawatch provide to get around some obscure data format problems or difficulties that may occur from time to time. (Prep and MSRP for example). I have only needed to use them occasionally (sometimes without any reference to Monarch usage at all!) but they certainly provide extra benefits to the overall package especially if you have to deal with older legacy systems.

             

            Like Tom I am a customer not an employee and have liked Monarch from the day I first got hold of a copy some years ago (Version 3 then). It is one of very few pieces of software I actually enjoy and look forward to using.

             

            Grant

             

            [size="1"][ April 01, 2003, 02:19 AM: Message edited by: Grant Perkins ][/size]

            • Pre-Purchase Questions
              Tom Whiteside

              Normally, pricing should not be the deciding factor in your decision, but I was truly appalled after checking out respective product costs.  Out of courtesy I won't give their quotes, but your proposed combination of both Content Extractor and Integration Studio will run you between six and eight times your purchase of Monarch 6.0 Pro, depending on direct download versus CD shipment.

               

              After calling DJ for some further information, I have no doubt whatsoever that Monarch is the better choice, both for functionality and for price.

              • Pre-Purchase Questions
                Steve Ralis

                smile.gif[/img]  Thanks guys... I'm sold.

                • Pre-Purchase Questions
                  Mike Urbonas

                  Steve, I am an employee of Datawatch (and therefore completely biased in favor of Monarch    ) but like Grant and Tom, I used Monarch for years (since DOS days to be precise), long before working for the company.  I do think you will be pleased with what you can do with Monarch.  Welcome!

                   

                  Mike Urbonas

                  Product Marketing Manager

                  Datawatch Corporation