Being an XML developer isn't always easy if you're running Linux, not if you aren't happy with emacs
. Not that I don't like emacs
; I do, but there are limits to what it can do. But before I go on, let's get some things straight. This post is basically a rant on XML tools so if you aren't an XML geek, or if your particular flavour of geek-ishness differs from mine, then go read something else, say, Henrik's Ruby articles
So anyway, moving on... If you develop DTDs, for example, you need something to visualize the DTDs with. I always liked Near & Far
from Microstar, even though the product is dead and gone, and it's impossible to buy it anywhere. Luckily, I have a copy (which I'm not
selling, thank you very much), and even though it's Windows software, it runs just fine on Wine/Linux.
Not that I'd want to actually create DTDs using Near & Far
. It's not good enough; for the actual writing, a text editor, say, emacs
, is still by far the best choice. Near & Far
will ruin any modularization you ever wanted for your DTD, it likes to normalize anything and everything it sees. But for pure visualization, it's great.
It's somewhat worse with XSL software. There are IDEs for XSLT available for Linux, but most range from bad to awful, and I've given up on all but one of them. The remaining one is ActiveState's Komodo
, a payware IDE that you can use for your Perl and Python stuff, too. The version I have, 3.01 is somewhat dated, but runs great on my Debian box. And newer versions are supposed to handle Ruby and PHP, too, but don't take my word for it.
Unfortunately, it doesn't do XSL-FO natively. Sure, you can write your transformations to FO in it but there's no help for the target FO namespace, only your basic XSLT. It's possible to write a macro to couple your debugging with, say, FOP
, to get PDF output right off the bat, but that's not the real issue. I want FO namespace help. Context-sensitive help, thank you very much.XML Spy
does this help-on-FO-namespace part, but I haven't managed to install it; yes, I know it's possible because it's listed on the various Wine compatibility lists, but I've failed miserably so far. I'll try again, one of these days, now that XMetaL finally made it to Linux.
And also, I never liked XML Spy
. I know, people hold it in high regard, but I bet all of them are codeheads
(you can't join if you have to ask; I'm a dochead
myself). XML Spy
is just so... not document-oriented. It's for programmers, the kind I'm most certainly not.
Then there's Oxygen
, a payware IDE that is available for Linux as well as Windows. Unfortunately, it's yet another tool created for (and by) those codehead people. It's like a text editor on steroids, only it's a bad trip and I prefer emacs
if I must go down that road. Also, there's an Eclipse
plugin available but the last time I tried a demo version, it messed up my Eclipse
installation beyond all reason, and I had to remove both to recover my sanity. I'm not going to try again unless there is a very, very good reason for me to do so. Like if a client pays me to.
And that's that. There are a few other tools available for Windows that I'm going to try one of these days, but since this was basically a rant, I'm not going to waste time and space on them now. Cheers!
Of course, there are lots of command line XML tools available, and I'm not complaining there. I've got just about everything there, from OpenSP
(yes, every now and then it's nice to have it to do DSSSL
), and to, of course, FOP