Review: XMLSPY 2004

XMLSPY 2004 Release 4
starting at $499 (but see below)
Altova, Inc.
Beverly, Massachusetts
(978) 816-1600

XMLSPY remains my tool of choice for dealing with XML files. Over the years, Altova has built in support for everything from straight XML editing to visual tools for handling WSDL files. Fortunately for them, new things keep cropping up in XML-land, and they continue to find new features to add. If you've used previous versions of XMLSPY, you won't find the new release revolutionary, but you may well appreciate some of the added features.

For starters, plain text editing has been replaced by a new advanced text view. The new view includes source code folding, bookmarks, and context-sensitive helpers (think IntelliSense for XML). It doesn't get in the way, but it can make entering XML by hand a whole lot faster.

You'll also find an XML-aware diff and merge engine. Using regular text editors to spot differences in XML files can be problematic because many formatting differences have no syntactic impact; using XMLSPY's tools gets around this problem.

Finally, XMLSPY's database capabilities have been increased with this version, to include connectivity to just about any database you're likely to be working with. You can automatically generated XSD schemas from a database, or vice versa. System tables and views are also included in the database objects that XMLSPY can access.

In addition to the commercial versions, XMLSPY now has a free Home Edition, so you can work with many of its tools without paying. Advanced capabilities like database integration and WSDL support have been stripped from the free edition, but it's still a useful XML editor. Visit the Altova store for details and download links.

About the Author

Mike Gunderloy has been developing software for a quarter-century now, and writing about it for nearly as long. He walked away from a .NET development career in 2006 and has been a happy Rails user ever since. Mike blogs at A Fresh Cup.


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