XML is a powerful and flexible way to encode data, but designing
XML “schema” (the rules by which data is encoded) is often
difficult. Verifying that your XML documents conform to the schema
can be difficult, as well. XMLFox XML Editor is a nice freeware
program that greatly simplifies these tasks.
For the uninitiated, XML is a distant cousin to HTML, the
language used to describe Web pages. XML is defined via “schemas”
which describe which tags are allowed, which order they may go in,
and what values they may have. XMLFox is a very cunning (like a
fox!) program which will allow you to begin entering essentially
arbitrary XML, and will work out the schema from it. In short, you
create your XML file and you get a working schema, which you can
then save and reuse.
In addition to this, XMLFox has the basic features one expects
from an editor. It detects missing or malformed tags (for example,
starting a tag with <Item> and closing it with </item>
XML’s case-sensitive tags often confuse those familiar with only
HTML). XMLFox has colored syntax highlighting, and shows your raw
XML in three formats: grid, tree, and script. In the left hand
pane, you see your ever-evolving schema.
XMLFox lacks a lot of high-end, complex, editing features found
in some editors, such as macros, regular expression parsing, and so
on–but it’s quick, clean, and easy to use. It also allows for the
editing of only one XML document at a time, which is the only
serious impediment to productivity I have found. If XML is a
sideline rather than a full time job, this simplicity and cleanness
handily trumps a lot of complex generic text editing features you
will likely rarely need. As a free editor which does its one job
well, XMLFox worth looking into.
Note: You will need Microsoft .NET 2.0 and Microsoft Data
Access Components (MDAC). Both can be downloaded from links on the
product’s home page.