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Re: [xml-dev] editing XML with Spreadsheets, most likely Excel

Hi Bryan

One challenge with transforming from, say, ODF spreadsheet table with
XSLT (such as with an XML Filter) is getting around the merging of empty
cells in a row. This means that there is a need to calculate the physical
location within the row of the logical cell where the data you need is held.
It is doable though, even with straight XSLT 1.0 and the result is satisfactory.

You need not just stick to XML output; CSV or fixed width files are other
options where relevant. I've not tried this with UBL instances or schemas
but got close to it once and it is an interesting project as far as I remember.

Having standard locations for the UBL business entities in the spreadsheet
a bit like the way UN standardized layouts for paper printing or invoices,
etc would help a lot for UBL instances. For UBL schema files there is a
'standard' layout for the business entity data and metadata already - well
two standards: UBL's and CEFACT's - so transformation from spreadsheet
to standard (NDR) schema is relatively straightforward, helped by the 'all
global' NDR (Naming and Design Rules). I remember there being a few
challenges to using XSLT which led to scripting languages being used
in preference to XSLT.

I'd say it is a satisfying way to get to an XML document if you have time
and patience to overcome the challenges.

I've tried Infopath too with Excel and found challenges there with the
complexity of, say, UBL (with many multiple occurrence complex types).
Again the amount of work involved seems only to be warranted if there
is stability in the spreadsheet layout. I thought it more useful to use XSLT
with the underlying XML of the spreadsheet when the spreadsheet layout
has been fixed sufficiently rather than a proprietary binding such as Infopath
(although I found I liked working with the Infopath concept).

[Opinions and preferences here are just my own of course based on my
experiences using the products, standards and techniques mentioned.]

Best regards

Stephen Green

SystML, http://www.systml.co.uk
Tel: +44 (0) 117 9541606

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=matthew+22:37 .. and voice

On 01/12/2007, bryan rasmussen <rasmussen.bryan@gmail.com> wrote:
> Hi,
> I know lots of people on this list have had some experience editing
> generating XML with Excel or other spreadsheet technologies, I've some
> slight knowledge of it as it is the technique used in UBL to
> edit/generate schemas. I never much cared for it as I thought it made
> the XML structures harder to understand. I was wondering if anyone had
> any specific things they like about the method, things they hate? What
> are the limits to numbers of files that can be edited in one
> spreadsheet, if for example one has related files in a particular
> worksheet?
> Cheers,
> Bryan Rasmussen
> _______________________________________________________________________

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