You've learned enough XML that you no longer need to use a simple text editor. You want something that will make your job less tedious, more fun, and help you create what you've pictured in your head. Welcome to the world of XML editing programs and application suites. How do you choose one? Dan Wellman gives you the goods, from the freeware through the most professional offerings. Read on to learn more.
There is no doubt that the Windows Notepad, or other simple text editor, is a very useful tool when it comes to Web editing in general, and especially for the learning process of beginning to use a new language. Text editors can be used to create and modify almost any Web language from HTML to XML and from PHP to Perl, but as applications themselves they lack functionality of almost every kind Ė you can type, but thatís it; no code libraries, no wysiwyg editing capabilities, coding shortcuts or validation services at all.
Simple text editors have the benefits of simplicity and availability - there is usually one bundled with your operating system, available to use right now. Of course, there are many small freeware programs that begin to build upon the firm foundations of the humble text editor, offering such things as syntax highlighting, line numbering, and a pleasant interface. These applications are a step in the right direction for the aspiring Web developer and can help to speed up and generally improve the hand-coding experience.
For the devoted professional however, as demands increase, so do your needs. You may find that switching to a dedicated, language specific, fully fledged application will increase your productivity and allow you to create things that a text editor alone cannot. When designing or managing large sites, or dealing with particularly complex Web applications involving databases, the kind of support that a dedicated application offers can really come into its own.
As an open and still fairly young (therefore still constantly evolving and developing) specification, XML is no exception. Learning to use XML is best done using a simple text editor, so that you can grasp the basics of the language without wasting time learning how to use a specialized and often complex application in addition to the core building blocks of the language. XML has many faces including its definition language (XML Schema), its style language (XSL) and its linking application (XLink). Once the basics of these facets have been learned, using a dedicated XML application suite to piece these together to form a working Web application can dramatically reduce much time and head-scratching.
But how do you know which of the many XML editing programs are worth using? Simple; Iíve done the hard work for you! Reading this guide will hopefully help you to weed out the useless and the unnecessary, and leave you with a choice based on your particular needs.