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petdance (2468)

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I'm Andy Lester, and I like to test stuff. I also write for the Perl Journal, and do tech edits on books. Sometimes I write code, too.

Journal of petdance (2468)

Monday December 16, 2002
12:48 PM

XML tools recommendations, please.

[ #9489 ]
We're doing some work with XML schemas and would like some kind of snazzy schema generator/documentor. We looked at XML Spy, which is nice, but is a Windows-only product, and is $400. I'm more concerned about being tied to Windows than the cost.

Stuff we'd like to have it do:

  • Automagic schema generation from xml
  • Automagic - and good! - documentation generation
  • Visual schema browsing/editing would be nice too

Any suggestions?

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  • I don't know what level of schema complexity you're looking for, but automagic schema generation (and the like) is a holy grail. And it's also a checkbox on a lot of PHB's shopping lists. (Go figure!)

    The few XML Schema-centric tools I've seen are proprietary, and mostly work on Windows. The open source support for XML Schema is pretty light because (1) it's a very hard, and overly complex problem that's (2) poorly documented and (3) geared towards large companies making "interchangeable" tools (Oracle,

    • I second what Adam says, XML Schema support is constantly getting better but there is currently no completely reliable implementation (and of course no two have the same bugs). As someone that has worked on the source of several, I know why that's the case. At this point no one knows when implementers will stop hitting awful edge cases in the spec...

      XML Spy is probably the laxest validator out there, half of the problems we have stem from schemata received from people that think they're valid becau


      -- Robin Berjon []

      • Automagic generation is currently in a sorry state, especially on the simpleType front.

        One thing that I don't understand is how anyone can expect autogeneration of a simpleType to work. At best, I can see autogeneration of a simpleType to identify that the content of an element/attribute is either a URI or plain text. Identifying any of the other facets (numeric attributes, min/max length, regex, etc.) doesn't seem possible in a general tool. For example, how is a schema supposed to auto-generate a

        • It normally would depend on a variety of options. Most tools put themselves on the safe side (if there is any such thing in schema inference) by always using xsd:string, but in some you can ask for them to be smarter.

          In such cases, it is possible to detect URIs (to a degree), date/time, and number types from the rest rather easily. If strings are what's left, you can refine that in two ways. The first is to produce an enumeration. That's good with a limited number of differences, but it quickly bec


          -- Robin Berjon []

  • We use XML Spy 4.x at work, and it's very good really. Yes it's a Windows product, and yes it uses MSXML by default for many things, and yes it's closed source and expensive, but it's the best GUI tool I've seen.

    I've done some schema work with it, but to be honest no more than auto-generating a schema from a source XML file. It did work, and it wasn't such a bad schema. It also does autmatic DTDs and they're not so bad either, but not perfect - you still have to tweak them afterwards.

    If you plan to do a

    -- "It's not magic, it's work..."