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   RE: Recommended Simple XML Tools

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  • From: "Bullard, Claude L (Len)" <clbullar@ingr.com>
  • To: xml-dev@lists.xml.org
  • Date: Fri, 21 Jul 2000 13:05:00 -0500

Scott writes:

"The requirements are the most important part
of any solution.  Still, I'm looking for real-world objective opinions of
developers as to what tools they like to use in whatever part of a solution.
Or perhaps which ones to avoid (that might be too sensitive for public

No diss'in.  Can't do that. :-)  Can say why I like 
what I like and what I'd like to see sooner than later.

Give them a range of applications based 
on the roles.  A web developer is many things 
or it takes a team to make one.  Interoperable 
tools are important to the team.  So, typically, 
if one is above the level of the simple HTML page, 
a suite of applications does the best job unless 
like many of us here, we aren't happy unless 
we are entering and balancing tags by hand.

Again I like a room with a view and for 
an integrated editing of a document with 
both composed (rendered) and non-rendered 
(say treeview), the XMetal product is 
excellent and I recommend it to people 
who don't want to get too deep into the 
markup but need first class professional 
results with a high correspondence to 
full spec compliance.  The SoftQuad folks 
have been at this for a very long time.

OTOH, day to day, I am also one of those 
who uses Professional File Editor. When 
editing direct markup, one wants an editor 
that gives line counts, matches braces, 
and has a macro functionality for customization. 
If it can invoke external functions, say the 
parser, that is even better.  Combined with 
Internet Explorer and some of the utilities 
(say, Derek Denny-Brown's validator add in), 
that covers a lot of ground.  But I've done 
markup for a long time and it comes easy.

Now, move on to something like X3D/VRML 
where structural knowledge isn't as valuable 
as conceptual construction: eg, making objects 
into more complex objects and rendering down a 
tree of transforms, there are those who can 
edit this "in the UTF-8", but it is not productive.  
For this, I definitely prefer an editor with 
the ability to pick objects in the rendered view 
that is then reflected in a select in the treeview. 
Then I can get what I see and also edit properties 
in a convenient representation.  

That is what is most important in my opinion: 
the editing representation should be efficient 
for the task and where multiple representations 
are needed, they should communicate.  

For schema development, I liked the XML Spy eval 
copy a lot.  It coped well with the conversions 
for XDR and that is much appreciated.  I tend to 
use it with PFE.   MicroStar's Near And Far is 
excellent for the same reasons and in the SGML 
era, was the best DTD designer on the market.  I 
haven't kept up lately as I am just now only 
revisiting markup design after a couple of years 
or relational-only with XML as a hobby.

When building web pages with scripts, the debugging 
is the hard part.  The script debuggers I've seen 
aren't as effective as I'd like.  I kluge.  Because I 
am proficient with Microsoft Access, I often design 
and debug the form in the MS editor.  That way, the 
table, script, and query environment is all there 
at my fingertips.  Then I take these and convert 
over to the HTML environment manually, that being 
HTML forms are very easy to do by hand.  The events 
match up pretty easily, and I copy the code over as 
VBScript.  There is a Save As HTML but I don't like 
the style and do usually rewrite the code a bit.  
The advantage overall is that the code works well 
before I do that.  The disadvantage is that given 
a disconnected stateless system, I've had to rethink 
the design.

XSL editing remains painful but I am too new to 
it to be too critical.  Apparently, spec fidelity 
is an issue but that could be the newness.

I am looking at the ADO+ papers and MS seems to have 
thought this all through.  Therefore, I am expecting 
a whizbang editing environment for web applications 
from Visual Studio.  There is a cost, and I doubt I will get 
rid of PFE anytime soon, but I will be more productive 
when better integrated debugging and drag and drop 
are combined with PFE-like direct text.  Looks like 
that is just around the corner for a price. 

"Speed is money.  How fast can you afford to go." 
quote from Ron Harlow off a sign in a motorcycle shop.

Len Bullard
Intergraph Public Safety

Ekam sat.h, Vipraah bahudhaa vadanti.
Daamyata. Datta. Dayadhvam.h


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