On Fri, Apr 15, 2005 at 09:20:37AM -0400, Alastair Dunning wrote:
> From: Alastair Dunning <[log in to unmask]>
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Date: Fri, 15 Apr 2005 09:20:37 -0400
> Subject: Choosing an XML editor
> The article is based on a study by Thijs van den Broek, Benchmarking XML
> editors, undertaken in 2004. The evaluation includes results of the survey
> van den Broek undertook via the TEI website.
Very useful article. What I really want in an XML editor is WYSIWYG.
This is the only type of editor that allows me to forget about
obtrusive technical matters when I am writing. I have not been able to
find anything that suits my needs that is open source or that doesn't
cost a small fortune.
What I have ended up doing is writing in a type of "smart text" and
using a python script to convert it to XML. For example, if I write
*some text*, the python script converts it to <emp> some text</emp>. I
can then use an XSLT stylesheet to convert the XML to a more suitable
form, like TEI. This method is a complete hack, but it does allow me
to create documents in a sane manner. For example, I am writing a
document on how to use ConTeXt to convert XML to PDF. I wrote the
document in my smart text format and then converted it to TEI.
Occasionally I open up the TEI to see what is going on, and the TEI
document is so cluttered, I couldn't possibly imagine using it by
itself for documents.
I also think a very powerful tagless editor would help in converting
Word users to use XML. I have recently converted my girlfriend to the
power of using CVS on her Mac OSX. She has to use the terminal, and
for the first time she sees that the power and use of something that
is not MS Office. She also knows that a structured document is far
superior to a WYSIWYG document. It wouldn't be too difficult to get
her to actually write in XML, but the main barrier is a good tagless
editor. Right now she uses Word, and I use a very sophisticated script
(http://rtf2xml.sourceforge.net/) I wrote to convert the MS RTF to
XML, which I then convert to TEI. Yes, definitely another hack--but it
I say all this just to explain the work-arounds I have employed to
create a decent way to create XML documents.
So I read the article with interest and immediately tried to find
editors that offered WYSISYG. Epic seems like it fits into this
category, but it is prohibitively expensive. Xmetal also seemed very
nice, but also very expensive. Open Office is also a possibility, but
you can only use it for simple documents.
If I had to sum up the article, I would say that if you like text
editors, and don't mind having to just see code, use emacs. If you
want an editor that allows both WSIWYG and a way to edit the code, use
Xmetal. (If you can afford it!) If you want an WYSIWYG editor and need
only simple documents, use Open Office.
There is another editor called vex, which also offers WYSIWYG editing.
It also offers a tree view of a document. It is an open source project
available on sourceforge. However, it is only in the alpha version,
and worse, it uses Java. The few times I downloaded and tested it, it
crashed, but even worse, it was simply too slow for me to ever
consider using it. The article's use of the term "performance problem"
for Java editors is understatement. Java often means the editor is
simply unusable, as in it takes 20 seconds to move the cursor a few
lines if you have a large document. (The exception is jedit, which I
have found works pretty decently on most documents.)
I use vim as my editor, and it was interesting to see how poorly vim
did in this article. This doesn't surprise me, since I've found vim
unsatisfactorily. It's a great editor, but poor XML editor.
*Paul Tremblay *
*[log in to unmask] *