Is XML Spy good - and are there cheaper alternatives?

Discussion in 'XML' started by daz_oldham, May 12, 2006.

  1. daz_oldham

    daz_oldham Guest

    Hi

    I was just wondering what people thought of XML Spy and the XML Suite
    that Alotva do and if it is worth shelling out for it. And, is it
    cheap for what you get??

    I am looking to be working with XML, XSD, XSLT so don't know if getting
    a tool like this would make my life easier, or if Visual Studio 2005
    will do what I need.

    And, are there any cheaper alternatives? :)

    Many thanks

    Daz
     
    daz_oldham, May 12, 2006
    #1
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  2. daz_oldham

    Andy Dingley Guest

    daz_oldham wrote:

    > I was just wondering what people thought of XML Spy


    Used it on my last site (multi-seat site licence) and found our old
    version of it to be attractive, but annoyingly buggy. On my current
    site we use cheapskate open-source products, and find them to be far
    better quality.

    Good stuff with XML Spy:

    - Nicely integrated XSLT workbench
    - Easy introduction to XML Schema
    - Really powerful project folder organisation.

    Bad stuff with XML Spy:

    - XML editor works wrongly. It creates paired tags when you create the
    element, but it has no ability to close an existing start tag. jEdit is
    vastly better.

    - Rubbish XML validator. It gives you messages of the form "Diddly
    squat somewhere near here" then leaves you to sort it out yourself.
    Just when a "smart" XML editor is supposed to be at its most useful,
    XMLSpy goes on a fag break. This is particularly irksome for beginners.

    - Altova. Completely unhelpful over anything, including selling new
    upgrade licences without buying full-price retail all over again. I'd
    never deal with this compnay again, they were that unhelpful.

    - Buggy. Prone to random "disappearing up its own root element"
    crashes that lost your work.

    - No printing. Looks great, but it crashes whenever you try to
    actually print from it.

    - Memory leaks

    - Project folder organisation is powerful, but incomprehensible. You
    really need to ask someone who has been using it for ages what the best
    way to set things up is.

    - Not much DTD support. I don't like them either, but I do still have
    to work with the damned things.

    - Obscure problems with working on XML documents referring to public
    DTDs that either aren't downloadable, or aren't strictly accurate.
    XMLSpy gets very confused here and there's nothing you can do about it.
    It's not really a good answer to give BlueChipCo who are asking why
    your code for their global integration product isn't working yet and
    you tell them it's because their public DTD on the server at
    head-office is an out-of-date version.


    Overall I'd use it, but I don't like it, and I certainly wouldn't pay
    money for it.

    (Eclipse kicks ass)
     
    Andy Dingley, May 12, 2006
    #2
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  3. daz_oldham

    Bo Guest

    I'm using the current version - 2006 sp2 - and find it very useful. I'm
    at best a medium-level XSL-coder, doing jobs XML/XSL occasionally, and
    XML Spy has helped me getting going. In particular, the debugger is
    undispensable, as for any programming task. It's costly, but I have no
    problems justifying the cost for my company. I've been able to focus on
    the tasks at hand and be productive, even though it's a "left-hand" job
    for me.

    I haven't looked at alternatives. I tried the evaluation copy and it
    convinced me to look no further. Particularly since I needed XSLT 2.0
    features (or would be able to do some coding really much easier), and
    XML Spy came right on time supporting them.

    /Bo

    daz_oldham wrote:
    > Hi
    >
    > I was just wondering what people thought of XML Spy and the XML Suite
    > that Alotva do and if it is worth shelling out for it. And, is it
    > cheap for what you get??
    >
    > I am looking to be working with XML, XSD, XSLT so don't know if getting
    > a tool like this would make my life easier, or if Visual Studio 2005
    > will do what I need.
    >
    > And, are there any cheaper alternatives? :)
    >
    > Many thanks
    >
    > Daz
     
    Bo, May 12, 2006
    #3
  4. Daz,

    If you are not looking for graphical tools, VS 2005 should handle your
    needs. Here's an introduction article about Xml/Xslt/Xsd editing and Xslt
    debugging:
    http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/default.asp?url=/library/en-us/dnxmlnet/html/xmltools.asp

    --
    Stan Kitsis
    Program Manager, XML Technologies
    Microsoft Corporation

    This posting is provided "AS IS" with no warranties, and confers no rights.


    "daz_oldham" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    > Hi
    >
    > I was just wondering what people thought of XML Spy and the XML Suite
    > that Alotva do and if it is worth shelling out for it. And, is it
    > cheap for what you get??
    >
    > I am looking to be working with XML, XSD, XSLT so don't know if getting
    > a tool like this would make my life easier, or if Visual Studio 2005
    > will do what I need.
    >
    > And, are there any cheaper alternatives? :)
    >
    > Many thanks
    >
    > Daz
    >
     
    Stan Kitsis [MSFT], May 13, 2006
    #4
  5. daz_oldham

    spiff Guest

    Hi Andy!

    I guess Daz has to try XMLSpy on his own because I don't share most of
    your experiences with the product. Printing is of course working and
    the Project funtionalities are really powerful and quite easy to set
    up. Regarding the DTD support you have full OASIS Catalog support so
    you can reference to public DTDs on your own PC.

    What special DTD support would you like to have? Your XML instances
    based on DTDs are validated and you get an Entry Helper on editing.
    There is also an integrated entity support.

    Compared to other products I think XMLSpy is pretty stable. Ok, I have
    to admit that I mainly use XMLSpy.

    Cheers
     
    spiff, May 15, 2006
    #5
  6. daz_oldham

    daz_oldham Guest

    Hey everyone - thanks for your input on this.

    I think for the time being I am going to give Visual Studio a try, and
    if I find I need the extra support that the graphical elements you get
    from XML Spy, then I will try to get my company to purchase it for me.

    Thanks again - I really appreaciate it.

    Darren
     
    daz_oldham, May 15, 2006
    #6
  7. daz_oldham

    Andy Dingley Guest

    spiff wrote:

    > I guess Daz has to try XMLSpy on his own because I don't share most of
    > your experiences with the product.


    IMHO, the lack of auto-closure on elements with existing start tags is
    enough of a reason on its own to use jEdit (or anything!) rather than
    XMLSpy.

    > Printing is of course working


    Printing was _not_ working. When a large corporate can't print from
    XMLSpy (probably because they're running an obsolete version of XMLSpy)
    and Altova's only response was "Buy new full-retail-cost licences for
    everyone and _hope_ that might fix our bug", then that's not "working"
    by my understanding of the term.

    I'm sure printing probably does work for small Schemas under the latest
    release of XMLSpy. But that didn't help me.

    > Project funtionalities are really powerful and quite easy to set up.


    They're easy to set up, but only if you know how best to set them up.
    An XMLSpy "greybeard" can configure things up usefully and effectively
    in minutes, a beginner is likely to take one look at the complexity and
    not even try. This is a tutorial issue, not a product function issue.


    > Regarding the DTD support you have full OASIS Catalog support so
    > you can reference to public DTDs on your own PC.
    >
    > What special DTD support would you like to have?


    My specific problem was with a large multi-component DTD (ecomm
    integration) that was poorly hosted by its owner. Presumably it had
    been set up by SGML wizards who had now left -- now the paths no longer
    pointed between modules as they ought, and this confused XMLSpy
    horribly (to the point of refusing to load documents).

    The only way I could author was to have an XSLT transform added to my
    publishing process. I worked on copies hacked up to use local DTD
    copies, then re-wrote the doctypes when I released the code.

    This wasn't "wrong" behaviour by XMLSpy, because there was an "error"
    in the document and the tool was perfectly entitled to reject the
    document as "invalid". However this is not the behaviour I want from a
    good and useful tool -- my work consists of fixing stuff - the
    documents and code I open _are_ invalid, that's why I have to open them
    up and fix them. XMLSpy worked fine when everything was perfect, but it
    was a disaster under pressure in the debuggering phase.
     
    Andy Dingley, May 15, 2006
    #7
  8. daz_oldham

    Tony Lavinio Guest

    You could also use Stylus Studio. See http://www.stylusstudio.com/

    It is very conformant to standards, provides good cross-platform
    support by letting you validate with several XSD validators including
    XSV, Xerces-C++, Xerces-J and Saxonica.
    http://www.stylusstudio.com/open_xsd_validation.html

    It supports XSLT 1 and XSLT 2, across a variety of engines including
    Saxon 8 -B and -SA, Saxon 6, Xalan, System.Xml from .Net, and more.
    http://www.stylusstudio.com/xslt.html

    It supports a variety of XQuery engines as well, including DDXQ
    and Saxonica.
    http://www.stylusstudio.com/xquery.html

    You can cross-platform debug and profile code as well - you can even
    debug Java extension functions by stepping and setting breakpoints
    and going between XSLT and Java in the same call stack.

    And we offer free support on the Stylus Studio Developer Network,
    at http://www.stylusstudio.com/SSDN/


    On 05-12-2006 5:09 AM, daz_oldham wrote:
    > Hi
    >
    > I was just wondering what people thought of XML Spy and the XML Suite
    > that Alotva do and if it is worth shelling out for it. And, is it
    > cheap for what you get??
    >
    > I am looking to be working with XML, XSD, XSLT so don't know if getting
    > a tool like this would make my life easier, or if Visual Studio 2005
    > will do what I need.
    >
    > And, are there any cheaper alternatives? :)
    >
    > Many thanks
    >
    > Daz
    >



    --
    Sincerely,
    Tony Lavinio
    Stylus Studio Principal Software Architect
    http://www.stylusstudio.com/
     
    Tony Lavinio, May 16, 2006
    #8
  9. "daz_oldham" <> wrote in
    news::

    > Hi
    >
    > I was just wondering what people thought of XML Spy and the XML Suite
    > that Alotva do and if it is worth shelling out for it. And, is it
    > cheap for what you get??
    >
    > I am looking to be working with XML, XSD, XSLT so don't know if getting
    > a tool like this would make my life easier, or if Visual Studio 2005
    > will do what I need.
    >
    > And, are there any cheaper alternatives? :)
    >
    > Many thanks
    >
    > Daz
    >


    Chiming in late, but I would look elsewhere. XML validator is buggy.
    XPath evaluator is buggy.

    --
    Patrick Maloney
    New York State Workers' Compensation Board

    (Remove REMOVE from e-mail address to reply)
     
    Patrick J. Maloney, Jun 29, 2006
    #9
  10. daz_oldham

    spiff Guest

    Which validator and XPath engine is not buggy?

    Regards

    Patrick J. Maloney wrote:
    > "daz_oldham" <> wrote in
    > news::
    >
    > > Hi
    > >
    > > I was just wondering what people thought of XML Spy and the XML Suite
    > > that Alotva do and if it is worth shelling out for it. And, is it
    > > cheap for what you get??
    > >
    > > I am looking to be working with XML, XSD, XSLT so don't know if getting
    > > a tool like this would make my life easier, or if Visual Studio 2005
    > > will do what I need.
    > >
    > > And, are there any cheaper alternatives? :)
    > >
    > > Many thanks
    > >
    > > Daz
    > >

    >
    > Chiming in late, but I would look elsewhere. XML validator is buggy.
    > XPath evaluator is buggy.
    >
    > --
    > Patrick Maloney
    > New York State Workers' Compensation Board
    >
    > (Remove REMOVE from e-mail address to reply)
     
    spiff, Jun 30, 2006
    #10
  11. daz_oldham

    Guest

    I'm an XML newbie. But is it true that a lot of the functionality of
    products such as XMLSpy and/or Epic Editor can be replicated using open
    source products if you are prepared to work from the command line now
    and then?

    PS: I'm not an open source evangelist here. It occured to me as a
    newbie, that XMLSPy etc. provide a nice front-end to stuff which can be
    done on the Linux command-line (xsltproc, xmllint for instance.)

    bruce


    Patrick J. Maloney wrote:

    > "daz_oldham" <> wrote in
    > news::
    >
    > > Hi
    > >
    > > I was just wondering what people thought of XML Spy and the XML Suite
    > > that Alotva do and if it is worth shelling out for it. And, is it
    > > cheap for what you get??
    > >
    > > I am looking to be working with XML, XSD, XSLT so don't know if getting
    > > a tool like this would make my life easier, or if Visual Studio 2005
    > > will do what I need.
    > >
    > > And, are there any cheaper alternatives? :)
    > >
    > > Many thanks
    > >
    > > Daz
    > >

    >
    > Chiming in late, but I would look elsewhere. XML validator is buggy.
    > XPath evaluator is buggy.
    >
    > --
    > Patrick Maloney
    > New York State Workers' Compensation Board
    >
    > (Remove REMOVE from e-mail address to reply)
     
    , Jun 30, 2006
    #11
  12. wrote:
    > I'm an XML newbie. But is it true that a lot of the functionality of
    > products such as XMLSpy and/or Epic Editor can be replicated using open
    > source products if you are prepared to work from the command line now
    > and then?


    So far, I've worked almost exclusively with open-source XML tools, with
    the exception of the tools I'm actually developing... and even those
    generally implement the standard APIs so the drivers could just as
    easily be calling open-source code. Emacs (which has some syntax-assist
    features suitable for XML), the Apache Xerces and Xalan packages (both
    of which I've contributed significantly to, so I admit I'm biased),
    Eclipse (which has some XML-specific plug-ins, though I haven't actually
    tended to use them)

    So I'd say the answer is "yes"... Which specific functionality are you
    looking for?

    --
    () ASCII Ribbon Campaign | Joe Kesselman
    /\ Stamp out HTML e-mail! | System architexture and kinetic poetry
     
    Joe Kesselman, Jun 30, 2006
    #12
  13. daz_oldham

    Andy Dingley Guest

    wrote:
    > I'm an XML newbie. But is it true that a lot of the functionality of
    > products such as XMLSpy and/or Epic Editor can be replicated using open
    > source products


    Yes. Massively so. You don't even need to hit the command line, unless
    you prefer it that way.
     
    Andy Dingley, Jun 30, 2006
    #13
  14. spiff wrote:
    > Which validator and XPath engine is not buggy?


    I'd call the Apache stuff "minimally" buggy (ie, about as good as
    real-world code gets) -- and is still undergoing active development to
    remove the remaining bugs as well as to add features, not to mention
    being open-source so you can see the bug list and/or get involved in
    that development effort yourself if so inclined. (Claimer: I and IBM
    have contributed heavily to developing both the Xerces and Xalan
    packages, and continue to do so, so I'm somewhat biased.)

    --
    () ASCII Ribbon Campaign | Joe Kesselman
    /\ Stamp out HTML e-mail! | System architexture and kinetic poetry
     
    Joe Kesselman, Jun 30, 2006
    #14
  15. daz_oldham

    Guest


    >
    > So I'd say the answer is "yes"... Which specific functionality are you
    > looking for?
    >


    At the moment, to validate against a DTD and translate to HTML, PDF and
    possibly other formats.

    Bruce
     
    , Jun 30, 2006
    #15
  16. wrote:
    > At the moment, to validate against a DTD


    Any parser can do this; most come with a command-line sample, or you can
    invoke the APIs. Apache Xerces, for example.

    Recommendation: Migrate from DTDs to Schemas at your earliest
    convenience. DTDs aren't namespace-aware, and most XML processing these
    days does want to be able to handle namespaces properly.

    > and translate to HTML, PDF and possibly other formats.


    Canonical solution is XSLT and/or XSL-FO tools. Apache Xalan and FOP,
    for example. Of course you have to write the stylesheets to describe how
    your particular XML is to be translated, or find stylesheets someone
    else has written for that markup.


    If you want a more interactive front-ends, as I say, I *think* there are
    plug-ins for Eclipse that support
     
    Joe Kesselman, Jun 30, 2006
    #16
  17. daz_oldham

    Peter Flynn Guest

    wrote:
    > I'm an XML newbie. But is it true that a lot of the functionality of
    > products such as XMLSpy and/or Epic Editor can be replicated using open
    > source products if you are prepared to work from the command line now
    > and then?


    Yes, absolutely.

    > PS: I'm not an open source evangelist here. It occured to me as a
    > newbie, that XMLSPy etc. provide a nice front-end to stuff which can be
    > done on the Linux command-line (xsltproc, xmllint for instance.)


    Emacs with psgml-mode, xxml-mode, tdtd-mode, and xslide-mode
    plus a copy of onsgmls and Saxon8 will get you probably 95%
    of the functionality of any commercial editor/IDE...except
    the synchronous typographical interface (what used to be
    called WYSIWYG), which can be supplied by a browser or PDF
    viewer window set to auto refresh. And you might not even
    need to use the command-line, as most functions are either
    menu items or keystrokes in the edit window. There are also
    equivalent modes for working with RelaxNG instead of DTDs.

    But if you absolutely, positively, must have Instant Textual
    Gratification[tm] or you are working with end-users who would
    be scared off by markup, then a synchronous typographical editor
    is probably what you want. Spy and Epic are excellent of their
    kind: there are dozens of others.

    ///Peter
    --
    XML FAQ: http://xml.silmaril.ie/
     
    Peter Flynn, Jul 3, 2006
    #17
  18. daz_oldham

    Stan R. Guest

    Joe Kesselman wrote:
    > wrote:
    >> I'm an XML newbie. But is it true that a lot of the functionality of
    >> products such as XMLSpy and/or Epic Editor can be replicated using
    >> open source products if you are prepared to work from the command
    >> line now and then?

    >
    > So far, I've worked almost exclusively with open-source XML tools,
    > with the exception of the tools I'm actually developing... and even
    > those generally implement the standard APIs so the drivers could just
    > as easily be calling open-source code. Emacs (which has some
    > syntax-assist features suitable for XML), the Apache Xerces and Xalan
    > packages (both of which I've contributed significantly to, so I admit
    > I'm biased), Eclipse (which has some XML-specific plug-ins, though I
    > haven't actually tended to use them)
    >
    > So I'd say the answer is "yes"... Which specific functionality are you
    > looking for?


    What do you guys think about Oxygen? I find it to be a very useful, and
    from what I've gathered from it thus far, IMHO it's far better than XML
    Spy, whose newer versions have been a big let down for me.

    --
    Stan
     
    Stan R., Jul 11, 2006
    #18
  19. daz_oldham

    spiff Guest

    Hi Stan!

    I'm using XMLSpy a lot but your post made me curious about oXygen. So I
    went to their site and looked around a little bit. I spent about 30
    minutes there and found some more or less interesting points but except
    support for some certain technologies (like RelaxNG) I didn't notice
    something really special. But I like the extra dialog bars oXygen
    offers. Especially the Outline, Stylesheet components and the Model
    bar.

    In general the functionalities offered in XMLSpy are more mature (like
    the strange Schema editor in oXygen).

    And on the other side I found quite a lot entries in the user forum
    where users describe problems using oXygen with different Linux, Java
    and Eclipse versions. I'm afraid maintaining Linux, Windows and MacOS
    is not so easy and leads into usability issues.

    Stan R. schrieb:

    > Joe Kesselman wrote:
    > > wrote:
    > >> I'm an XML newbie. But is it true that a lot of the functionality of
    > >> products such as XMLSpy and/or Epic Editor can be replicated using
    > >> open source products if you are prepared to work from the command
    > >> line now and then?

    > >
    > > So far, I've worked almost exclusively with open-source XML tools,
    > > with the exception of the tools I'm actually developing... and even
    > > those generally implement the standard APIs so the drivers could just
    > > as easily be calling open-source code. Emacs (which has some
    > > syntax-assist features suitable for XML), the Apache Xerces and Xalan
    > > packages (both of which I've contributed significantly to, so I admit
    > > I'm biased), Eclipse (which has some XML-specific plug-ins, though I
    > > haven't actually tended to use them)
    > >
    > > So I'd say the answer is "yes"... Which specific functionality are you
    > > looking for?

    >
    > What do you guys think about Oxygen? I find it to be a very useful, and
    > from what I've gathered from it thus far, IMHO it's far better than XML
    > Spy, whose newer versions have been a big let down for me.
    >
    > --
    > Stan
     
    spiff, Jul 12, 2006
    #19
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