Thousands of authors worldwide are using Arbortext Editor to gener- ate quality, accurate and up-to-date product information, such as operator manuals. Arbortext’s Epic Editor is a very polished editor that can be integrated with digital asset management systems and high-end compositing systems. A screenshot is . Deliver a “compact”, ActiveX version of Arbortext Editor that can be downloaded “ on demand” and integrated into a web-based application. • Launch as a.

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By now you are chomping at the bit, eager to gallop into XML coding of your own. Let’s take a look at how to set up your own XML authoring and processing environment.

This program lets you read and compose XML, and often comes with services to prevent mistakes and clarify the view of your document. There is a wide spectrum of quality and expense in editors, which makes choosing one that’s right for you a little tricky. In this section, I’ll take you on a tour of different kinds. Even the lowliest plain-text editor is sufficient to work with XML.

The only limitation is whether it supports the character dditor used by the document. In most cases, it will be UTF Some of these text editors support an XML “mode” which can highlight markup and assist in inserting tags.

Some popular free editors include vim, elvis, and, my personal favorite, emacs. Lennart Stafflin has written an XML plug-in for it called psgml, available at http: It adds menus and commands for inserting tags and showing information about a DTD. It even comes with an XML parser that can detect structural mistakes while you’re editing a document. Using psgml and a feature called “font-lock,” you can set up xemacsan X Window version of emacsto highlight markup in color.

Figure is a snapshot of xemacs with an XML document open. As you can see in Figurethe window sports several arbotext. On the left is an outline view of the book, in which you can quickly zoom in on a particular element, open it, collapse it, and move it around.

On the right is a view of the text without markup. And below these panes is an attribute editing pane. The layout is easy to customize and easy to use. Note the formatting in the text view, achieved by applying a Arbortxt stylesheet to the document.

1.4 How Do I Get Started?

It’s written in Java, so it supports all computer platforms. Arbortext’s Epic Editor is a very polished editor that can be integrated with digital asset management systems and high-end compositing systems.

A screenshot is shown in Figure Like Morphon’s editor, it uses CSS to format the text displayed. There are add-ons to extend functionality such as multiple author collaboration, importing from and exporting to Microsoft Word, formatting for print using a highly detailed stylesheet language called FOSI, and a powerful scripting language. The quality of output using FOSI is good enough for printing books, and you can view how it will look on screen.

These are just a few of the many XML editors available. Table lists a few more, along with their features and prices. Comparison of XML editor features editor. The features of structure and validity checking can be taken too far. All XML editors will warn you when there are structural errors or improper element placement validity errors.


A few, like Corel’s XMetal, prevent you from even temporarily making the document invalid. A user who is cutting and pasting sections around may temporarily have to break the validity rules.

The editor rejects this, forcing the user to stop and figure out what is going wrong. It’s rather awkward to have your creativity interrupted that way. When choosing an editor, you’ll have to weigh the benefits of enforced structure against the interruptions in the creative process.

A high-quality XML authoring environment is configurable. If you have designed a document type, you should be able to customize the editor to enforce the structure, check validity, and present a selection of valid elements to choose from.

You should be able to create macros to automate frequent editing steps and map keys on the keyboard to these macros. The interface should be ergonomic and convenient, providing keyboard shortcuts instead of many mouse clicks for every task. The authoring tool should let you define your own display properties, whether you prefer large type with colors or small type with tags displayed. Configurability is sometimes at odds with another important feature: Having an editor that formats content nicely for example, making titles large and bold means that someone must write and maintain a stylesheet.

Some editors have a reasonably good stylesheet-editing interface that lets you play around with element styles almost as easily as creating a template in a word processor. Structure enforcement can be another headache, since you may have to create a document type definition DTD from scratch. Like a stylesheet, the DTD tells the editor how to handle elements and whether they are allowed in various contexts.

You may decide that the extra work is worth it if it saves error-checking and complaints from users down the line. Editors often come with interfaces for specific types of markup. XML Spy includes many such extensions. It will allow you to create and position graphics, write XSLT stylesheets, create electronic forms, create tables in a special table builder, and create XML Schema. To have a specialized table editor is a godsend.

Another nicety many editors provide is automatic conversion to terminal formats. This high-quality formatting is difficult to achieve, however, and you will spend a lot of time tweaking difficult stylesheets to get just the appearance you’re looking for.

There is a lot of variation among editors in how this is achieved. Database integration is another feature to consider. In an environment where data comes from many sources, such as multiple authors in collaboration, or records from databases, an editor that can communicate with a database can be a big deal. Databases can be used as a repository for documents, giving the ability to log changes, mark ownership, and store older versions. Databases are also used to store raw data, such as personnel records and inventory, and you may need to import that information into a document, such as a catalog.

They can update documents in many places when data sources have changed, and they can branch document source text into multiple simultaneous versions. There are many exciting possibilities. Which editor you use will depend a lot on your budget. You can spend nothing and get a very decent editor like emacs.

It doesn’t have much of a graphical interface, and there is a learning curve, but it’s worked quite well for me. You probably wouldn’t need to spend more unless you’re in a corporate environment where the needs for high-quality formatting and collaboration justify the cost and maintenance requirements. Then you might buy into a suite of high-end editing systems like Epic or FrameMaker. With XML, there is no shortage of choices.


If the ultimate purpose of your XML is to give someone something to look at, then you may be interested in checking out some document viewers. You’ve already seen examples of editors displaying XML documents. You can display XML in web browsers too. It has a built-in validating XML parser. If there are errors, it will tell you so and highlight the affected areas. Viewing a document in IE looks like Figure It works the same way.

The whole document is the root of a tree, with branches for elements. Click on one of the minus icons and it will collapse the element, hiding all of its contents. The icon will become a plus symbol which you can click on to open up the element again. It’s a very useful tool for navigating a document quickly.

For displaying formatted documents on computer monitors, the best technology is CSS. CSS has a rich set of style attributes for setting colors, typefaces, rules, and margins. How much of the CSS standard is implemented, however, varies considerably across browsers. There are three separate recommendations, with the first being quite widely implemented, the second and more advanced less so, and the third rarely.

This gives yet another way to format an XML document. So you have two ways inside IE to generate decent presentation, making it an invaluable development tool. This may change soon, as more browsers catch up to IE, but at the moment it’s safer to do the transformation on the server side and just serve HTML.

There are a bunch of browsers capable of working with XML in full or limited fashion. The following list describes a few of the more popular and interesting ones. Some technologies, like DOM and CSS, are broken up into three levels representing the relative sophistication of features. Amaya is a project by the W3C to demonstrate technologies working together.

It’s both a browser and an editor with built-in XML parsing and validating. It is not edtor to format other kinds of XML, however. Microsoft has tried very hard to play ball with the open standards community and it shows with this browser.

Strangely, Internet Explorer is split into two completely different code bases, with versions for Windows and Macintosh independent from each other. This has led to wacky situations such as the Mac version being for a time more advanced than its Windows cousin. The best versions and perhaps last available are 6.

Epic Editor – Arbortext

Mozilla is an open source project to develop an excellent free browser that supports all the major standards. At Mozilla’s heart is a rendering engine, code-named Gecko, that parses markup and churns out formatted pages. How is it for compliance? As of version 6, Navigator has been based on the Mozilla browsers internal workings.