Sunday, March 26, 2017
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SiMX TextConverter 4 vs. Datawatch Monarch
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A growing number of companies are replacing Datawatch Monarch/Modeler with SiMX TextConverter 4.
This article compares the two products giving an overview of the reasoning behind the decision to choose SiMX over Datawatch. Before getting into details here are a few generalized points outlining the advantages of TextConverter over Modeler/Monarch:
  • More power - wider range of covered tasks, richer feature set, open architecture.
  • Easier to use - better user interface, more visual support, more automated group actions, more transparency in data tracking.
  • Better customer support - more responsive, quickly growing base of downloadable samples, videos and other online support materials.
  • Less expensive - customers can expect to save 50% plus.
Feature Comparison
Supported Tasks: With significantly less effort TextConverter can handle all the tasks that Modeler can, but the inverse is not true. TextConverter is not only much easier to configure, but it also covers a much wider spectrum of document formats in visual mode and adds a whole new class of tasks that require more sophisticated logic than simple positional and/or tag-based extraction.
Records Recognition: Instead of a Modeler/Monarch's one line "trap" configured on a per character basis using a proprietary language, TextConverter offers a much more flexible and intuitive multiline, per field definitions employing a standard regular expression syntax. This powerful and popular text parsing language (RegEx) is used in TextConverter virtually in all contexts, including records recognition and filtering, data extraction and transformation.
Templates and Data extraction: Modeler/Monarch's template system works virtually on a single hierarchical level allowing only a limited set of templates: one Detailed, one Page Header and multiple Group/Page Footers and Appends. Another limitation of Modeler/Monarch is that it does not allow using combined positional and tag-based extraction with the same template. TextConverter has no limitations on the number of extraction levels or the number of templates that can be used at any level. It supports multiline templates with positional, delimited, flexible and tag-based multiline fields extraction from any hierarchical level above and/or below detailed data.
Data Mining\Reporting: Reporting is covered in TextConverter with two built in reporting tools Target Reports and Free Form Reports. Both tools allow users to effortlessly create complex reports in HTML, Word, PDF, XML, Excel, csv, and other formats accessing data from across multiple data sources including the automatically connected data extraction table in the current TextConverter project. Both tools support advanced grouping, recursive calculated fields, a wide variety of charts, and more. Target reports produces automatically formatted reports with no need for manual formatting, while Free Form Reports offers a much more flexible report layout design environment.
Datawatch Monarch
SiMX TextConverter 4
Records detection and filtering (Trapping)
Per character behavior definition using proprietary language
Per field behavior definition using data types and regular expressions
Detailed, Page Header, Group/Page Footer, and Appends
Unlimited number of templates at each hierarchical level
Data extraction techniques
One type per template
Unlimited combinations of positional and tag based
Context group operations
Multiple input and output automated field generation and editing
Composite output fields (parsing input fields using regular expressions)
Pre-built functions and custom regular expressions capability
Look up tables
Output replacements and filtering of output records
Output replacements and filtering of input and output records
Internal Scripting support
Output replacements and filtering of output records
Calculated fields and context scripting with extensive functional libraries support (VBScript)
Configuring projects with TextConverter is much easier than with Modeler thanks to its more transparent and intuitive ideological concept, a higher level of actions' automation (group actions), easier access to the available resources and visual synchronization of selected objects.
Workflow: Instead of a Modeler's cumbersome and limited concept of first configuring one line record detection "traps" using proprietary language and then setting up the fields' recognition and extraction rules, TextConverter is capable of automatically generating multiline templates with a set of fully configured multiple fields in one step. In many cases the automatically generated templates work fine without customization, but if necessary TextConverter provides ultimate flexibility in achieving the desired results by allowing interactive adjustments to the properties of templates and fields.
Group Actions: As opposed to Modeler, TextConverter boosts user productivity by offering a number of context group actions that can automatically generate and modify multiple objects in one step. For example you can generate multiple input fields with positional data extraction by highlighting a multiline (or single line) area in the text preview pane and calling the context command "Set from the selected line(s)". Additionally, you can generate multiple tag-based input fields by selecting a group of tags and calling the "Add tags" command. Another sample of a high productivity group action is the "Composite input" capability of generating in one step multiple output fields populated from the data extracted using a single input field. A typical example is, splitting an address block contained in the input field into separate output fields: address1, address2, City, State, Zip, and Country.
User Interface: TextConverter offers a more intuitive user interface focused on the efficiency of the user workflow. As opposed to Modeler's multiple replaceable frames with no visual linkage between their elements TextConverter offers a single integrated visual environment with synchronized selection of all the related elements such as fields in the input text preview, input and output dictionaries and the output table preview. This synchronized view makes it much easier to access software resources and manage the project's configuration process. 
Finding information on Datawatch products pricing has not been an easy task. Based on our research Datawatch Modeler 12 is available online from third party distributors for $1.88K – $1.95K. Datawatch offers a number of data extraction, mining and processing products that include data visualization functionality and, based upon our research, have a much higher price tag of $25K or more. SiMX offers a diverse set of products, which includes TextConverter Standard - for $1,150 and three products supporting automation varying in price from $2.35K to $8.5K. 
Customer Support
As opposed to Datawatch, where due to a strategy shift, attention to the data extraction tools and their customer support is on decline, SiMX is eager to promote its new line of products and offers an exceptional support services as part of its software maintenance program. Besides the conventional customer support channels such as email, phone 609.750.9345, online Help and blogs, SiMX also offers a somewhat unique services: An online Data Extraction Service (DES), where you can request a TextConverter project to be configured for you based on your specification. SiMX also provides a walk through of the delivered solution as part of the service. The normal turnaround time is within 24 hours.
SiMX offers an online Samples Center where you can find and download the relevant sample projects and learn about them, by reading articles and watching videos.