XMLDevCon2000 Showfloor highlights

November 18, 2000

Simon St. Laurent

The show floor at XMLDevCon 2000 was focused on improving existing technology, rather than creating entirely new concepts. A few old tools improved their interfaces and schema support, and some common older practices received new and friendlier faces which may expose them to more and larger-scaled projects.

XML Spy 3.5

Altova showed off a preview of XML Spy 3.5, its Windows-based integrated XML document, XML schema, and XSLT style sheet editor.

Alexander Falk, President of Altova, demonstrated the benefits of integrating an XML Schema editor with an XML document editor, using substitution groups as an interface feature for editing as well as a convenience for validation. XML Spy is also tightly integrated with the Windows environment, using the MSXML 3.0 parser and Internet Explorer to provide quick previews of XML documents tranformed into HTML using XSLT.

Falk noted that XML Spy now offers "syntax highlighting, for text-based entry, along with an enhanced grid view providing intelligent entry features like drag and drop, and an integrated table view for repeating elements."

It supports the 24 October 2000 Candidate Recommendation of XML Schemas, including data type facets and regular expressions but not identity constraints.

XML Spy 3.5 Figure 1 - XML Spy 3.5's Enhanced Grid Mode

XML Authority 2.0

TIBCO Extensibility demonstrated a preview of XML Authority 2.0, the latest revision of their schema editor for Windows, Unix, and (in beta) MacOS X.

Version 2.0 is a substantial revision with extra features in its presentation and underlying document modeling support. In addition to a new interface (shown in Figure 2), XML Authority 2.0 supports the latest version of XML Schemas excepting identity constraints.

XML Authority 2.0

Figure 2 - XML Authority 2.0

Tom Clark, Manger of Technical Services for TIBCO Extensibility, said that "XML Authority now gives users more control over what they want to see in the Content Model diagram. Attributes and type info are available, and can be switched on and off to meet designer preferences." A new properties and constraints pane gives editors access to fine-grained information about their types.

Also new in Version 2.0 are extra support for Extensibility's own Schema Adjunct Framework, along with Oracle's iFS and Software AG's Tamino. XML Authority continues to support a wide variety of schema types, including DTDs, XML-Data Reduced, SOX, and export to RELAX.

<xml>Transport and <xsl>Composer

Whitehill Technologies demonstrated two tools for transforming information into XML and among XML vocabularies. Both provide developers with user interfaces that simplify these complex tasks of data processing.

<xml>Transport combines two approaches to creating XML documents from legacy sources. Developers can create XML using rules applied to text streams from any application, and they can also add information to those streams using ADO database connectors. The <xml>Transport Designer gives developers a graphical interface for creating fragment rules, making it simple to create a variety of fragment types, including appended, columnar, and even joined fragments. These sets of rules are then applied to information using the <xml>Transport Server, which combines documents and rules to create XML documents from legacy sources.

<xsl>Composer provides a WYSIWYG environment for XSLT development, allowing developers to drag and drop content from XML documents into a browser, identifying HTML and CSS markup which should be used to represent that content. <xsl>Composer automatically generates XSLT stylesheets implementing those choices, avoiding the need for users to manipulate XSLT syntax directly. (In the current version, there's no support for direct textual editing.)

Jim Laffoley, VP of Marketing, noted that Whitehill plans to improve both of these products in the near future, adding XHTML support to <xml>Transport and more tools for importing and editing XSL files directly to <xsl>Composer. Both products may also be purchased in an integrated package, Whitehill Web.