XML Editors - Word 2000??

Ketil Z Malde ketil at ii.uib.no
Tue Jun 29 11:27:50 BST 1999

"Steven Livingstone, ITS, SENM" <steven.livingstone at scotent.co.uk> writes:

> One thing that (at least the ones I have looked at so for) is common in them
> is the XMl Notepad look - i.e. A line with a couple of tags and space to
> insert your text.

Well, since you include my latest rant, you probably know that I view
that as a feature :-)

> To me it seems that this is pretty much the only way you could do this, but
> feedback I have had from people not knowledgeble about XML is that they
> don't consider them serious editors (although I happily work with them).

What criteria do they suggest?

> I imagine some intelligent package which knew where you were in a
> particular document and, working with a DTD, could provide you with a list
> of possible tags which could be applied and relevent attributes

While I'd hesitate to recommend something as complex as XEmacs to
somebody not familiar with it or another Emacs-derivative, I'll
describe briefly how it works in psgml-mode.

Psgml is rather daunting, it handles a lot of sgml-declaration stuff,
and it does folding, cursor movement based on document structure, etc.

You really only need to have a couple of commands to get started,

  + Insert element (either placing the cursor within it, or enclosing a
    marked region, and of course with completion of valid elements,
    insertion of required subelements, prompting for required attribute
    values, etc etc)
  + Finding trouble spots (i.e. places where validation fails)

And, if you juggle DTD's,

  + Rereading the DTD (actually, reading and parsing the prolog)

The rest of it can be dug out of the online help. :-)

I think that what I miss most is automatic display of comments in
element declarations in the DTD in the completion listings.  I.e. I
want to insert an element, type TAB to list completions, and get the
list - but I would like to see comments as well.  In particular, the
HTML DTDs seem nicely commented, and I think I've seen this kind of
support in commercial editors (Adept?).

Obviously, I don't miss it enough to implement it :-)

> Of course the DTD would have to be provided as a template for the
> user (as would any style sheets).

Yeah, some form of style sheets would be nice.  Writing them is a lot
of work, however, and a rendering engine would be even harder.
HTML-mode is derived from psgml-mode, and has a few style issues
hardwired into it, but while that works nicely for HTML, it isn't a
good, general solution. 

If I haven't seen further, it is by standing in the footprints of giants

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