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Evaluating XML Editors


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.

Author Info:
By: Dan Wellman
Rating: 4 stars4 stars4 stars4 stars4 stars / 14
December 27, 2004
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
  1. · Evaluating XML Editors
  2. · The Simple Editing Tools
  3. · The Full-Fledged Applications
  4. · The High End, Priced Appropriately

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Evaluating XML Editors - The Full-Fledged Applications
(Page 3 of 4 )

Moving into the full-on application category, the next set of programs is normally licensed and offers a lot more support for things such as schemas, DTDs and stylesheets.

XML Fox 1.61 is an extremely small and basic XML and XML Schema editing tool that is free to download and use. In order to run the software, you need to download and install the .net framework and a database extension, both of which are also free. You can create, modify, and validate files. The program automatically maps a schema document as you are creating the XML document, which is a useful feature not seen in most other XML editors. It also shows you how your document will look in a browser. It is the only free, fully functional editor I have seen so far, but remember: you get what you pay for. 

Cooktop 2.5 is a freeware application dedicated to the creation of XML, XSL and DTD documents. On selecting a new XML document, you are given a tabbed workspace consisting of a page for XML code entry, the XPath console, an XSL stylesheet code entry page and two results pages to show the code for your result, and any outputted HTML. There is an extensive code library with snippets for DTD, XML, XSLT, XPath, HTML and CSS among others. It also includes several templates for XML, XSLT and HTML. The program is intuitive enough to begin using immediately and features a handy validation and well-formedness checking facility. Unfortunately, the software lacks anything to do with the XML Schema specification, so it doesn’t quite provide that all-inclusive requirement of a stand-alone tool. For a free program, it is quite good, but if you are not planning on using XSLT with your XML documents, it seems pretty pointless downloading it.

The <oXygen/> 5.0 XML editor is an excellent addition to any professional Web programmer's program suite. A single copy (can be installed on one machine, but documents produced can be used for any purpose) can be purchased for $96 USD which converts to approximately £45 GBP. It has a very well laid out, aesthetically pleasing GUI and, where certain other programs in this category have a Windows 98 feel about them, this program definitely has that XP quality.

The main program window is divided into three sections: the Model, Outline and Code entry windows. The Model window gives an instant overview of the selected element and provides information on any attributes used by the element. The Outline window breaks the document down and shows it in its tree format. The code entry window should need little explanation, other than the fact that it is multi-tabbed, depending on the number of documents open, and provides everything that you’d expect including line numbering and syntax highlighting. The Outline window is really just a view; if you want to edit your document in a full tree environment, there is a button on the short cut bar that opens a dedicated tree editing window that is excellent for editing pre-existing documents. There are some useful sample files, and the program can convert an existing XML document into a Schema or DTD. Other than that, there are no code snippets or libraries, but it does provide a comprehensive help system.

XML Writer 2.5 from Australian based Wattle software can be purchased for the slightly higher figure of $139 Australian Dollars, which converts to roughly $105 USD or £55 GBP. The new document templates (XML, DTD, XSD, XSLT, CSS, HTML and XHTML) are pretty comprehensive and include all of the necessary elements. The workspace is laid out logically, with a tabbed main coding window, a file based tabbed window and an error window. The file based window provides a useful project window that lets you organise your files into logical directories. It also contains a file explorer, a schema tag explorer and a well organised code library. There’s no doubt that it’s a useful and well produced program but the price tag seems a little unjustified.


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