WISH! Open Source XML Editor [was Re: psgml namespaces andschemas]

Steve Ball Steve.Ball at zveno.com
Fri Dec 24 05:27:34 GMT 1999

Peter Murray-Rust wrote:
> At 07:10 AM 12/23/99 -0500, David Megginson wrote:
> >Bruce.Durling at equifax.com writes:
> >and it might be
> >nice to get a more modern open-source XML editing tool under
> >development.
> >
> If I had a single wish as departing moderator it would be that we have a
> project to develop an open source editor for XML.

Wish no longer... an Open Source XML Editor is here right now:


My company, Zveno, recently decided to release our editor as an
Open Source Software project.  We haven't announced it yet, because
we've been pretty busy with other projects, but the source code
is available right now at:

ftp://ftp.zveno.com/swish/Swish-1.0b5.tar.gz	or

You need to have Tcl/Tk 8.1 (or better) installed to run it.

> There is anyway a
> shortage of  editors at present, and those that do exist are (not
> unreasonably) usually tied to a single author's point of view (e.g.
> streamed text, hierarchical content, etc.) As far as I know, none of them
> are easily extensible at API level, and those that do have APIs will differ
> enormously from each other.

All quite true.  I'll mention my points-of-view and then discuss the
Swish project.

Firstly, Swish is written in Tcl/Tk.  Some people like Tcl, some don't...
but one has to choose an implementation language and Tcl provides a
number of practical advantages - simplicity, good GUI toolkit, 
extensibility.  One of the most important advantages is packaging;
it is quite easy to get Tcl/Tk installed on a platform, and it is
relatively easy to create a single executable for folks to download.

If you want to argue the relative merits of Tcl/Tk, then perhaps it
would be best to email me offline from the list.

Another feature of Tcl is that it plays nicely with other languages.
For example, using Tcl Blend (the Tcl interface to Java) we could 
incorporate calls to Java classes such as Java (validating) parsers,
XSL processors, etc.  The idea here is that Tcl provides a high-level
glue language for components provided in Java (or Python, or C++, or...)

As far as design choices go, I have modelled some simple UIs (tree view,
XML source view) but I am very keen to explore alternatives.
That's a major reason for making this package open source.
Swish has a plugin system to allow for this kind of extension.

APIs are very, very important and it is early days for Swish.
Developing a comprehensive plugin API is on my TODO list.
Perhaps the Tcl Plugin API should have a corresponding Java API?

> The lack of an API for an editor effectively makes it impossible for people
> to develop a modular approach. Many of the "non-textual" DTD/schemas will
> require specialist editors (my own interest is chemistry, but Math,
> Geography/maps, SVG, etc are all similar). We need to be able to
> concentrate *just* on the domain-specific parts of our subject, and not to
> be concerned with general structural or technical editing.

I have recognised that application/domain-specific UIs are going to be
extremely important.  The interfaces that I have supplied (as for 
other existing XML editors) are too general-purpose.  Again, the
plugin mechanism is there to cater for new interfaces.

> I have raised this subject from time to time over the last year or two and
> haven't found it easy to get interest. Now that XML is really here, editing
> is a key requirement for creating documents. For example, I know that there
> is pressure to create graduate theses in electronic form - but this is not
> easy in XML if there is anything other than text in the thesis. Are there
> other readers of this list that understand the problem and do we have a way
> forward?

Well, I'm "putting my code where my mouth is" to find a way forward.
Anyone who is interested is very welcome to contact me.

We here at Zveno are working hard (despite the Summer holidays) to
get the website updated to support Swish's new status.  Please bear
with us while we catch up on our workload!

Have a great Christmas everyone, and a New Year that's a blast!

Steve Ball

Steve Ball            |   Swish XML Editor    | Training & Seminars
Zveno Pty Ltd         |   Web Tcl Complete    |      XML XSL
http://www.zveno.com/ |    TclXML TclDOM      | Tcl, Web Development
Steve.Ball at zveno.com  +-----------------------+---------------------
Ph. +61 2 6242 4099   | Mobile (0413) 594 462 | Fax +61 2 6242 4099

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