This tool is engineered with enthusiasm and marketed with gusto. Fortunately, that marketing gusto has been toned down, and it no longer stamps its own name into every file you write! Like Real Networks, though, it still exhibits an unattractive desire to make itself the default app on dozens of file types.
Engineering enthusiasm makes for a finely built, highly featured product. But here too there is a sense of overkill. Maybe these guys need a harder job! Instead, they overinvented the user interface.
XML documents are straight tree structures. Trees are displayed with similar mechanisms in Mac and Windows Explorer and almost every app. Think of the directory structure you see in a file operation, with folders that open and contain other folders.
XML Spy visualizes trees as a clutter of nested boxes. This never made sense to us, although it might make sense to other people. We disregarded that very central aspect of the product, which promised a path to visual data design, and instead used XML Spy only as XML source editor, validator, and file manager. As such, it is excellent ”well engineered and a pleasure to operate .
We spent less time with this XML editor. It is more modest than XML Spy, but, in our clumsy hands, it was also a bit less sturdy. It is designed as not only a tool but an introduction to the technology. Its help screens are excellent for teaching XML to the novice.
The product has an organization that is simple and easy to understand, although gratuitously cute icons give it an elementary school feel.
MS XML Notepad
This is a very simple and easy to use tool, but it is insufficient for designing valid XML. But the learning curve is a tiny bump, the price is zero, and the display of tree structure is free of the excessive creativity that makes the other two products annoying to use.
If you do not care about DTDs but you do care about money, this little gift from Bill Gates might be just fine.
www.w3.org/TR/REC-xml The definitive word on XML, literally.
editml.com/Samples.htm A nice set of simple starter sample XML files.
xmlpitstop.com A pleasant starting point with a fun attitude, a generous sysop, and hundreds of annotated links.
userland.com A highly active center for development of RSS, SOAP, and other interactive XML technologies. The focus is on pathways for independent servers to interoperate ”such as automated content publishing and aggregation ”and on functionality as content!