Developer Product Briefs

Hands-On Product Report: Altova XMLSpy 2007

Visual Studio Magazine reviews Altova XMLSpy 2007 Release 3.

Altova XMLSpy 2007 Release 3 Enterprise Edition
Pros: Top-notch code editor with graphical views; supports editing and extraction of data in Microsoft Office 2007 Open XML archives; time-saving code generators
Cons:Skimpy documentation on new features; several key features only available in Enterprise Edition
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XMLSpy 2007 Release 3 is a top-notch suite of tools for developing, editing, transforming, debugging and manipulating anything that looks like XML. If an XML-based format or application is ready for prime time, XMLSpy has it covered with templates and schemas.

The Enterprise version now lets you process the Microsoft Office Open XML (OOXML) format in Word 2007 and Excel 2007 documents. XMLSpy's Archive view can access embedded content inside zipped OOXML archives, so you can add, open and delete the included documents. However, the separate mini-IDE for this feature is a bit awkward.

XMLSpy can extract data from OOXML files. While we had some gripes with the included XSLT transformations, the built-in debugger supports regular breakpoints and a tracepoint feature for logging specific output.

The XMLSpy editor is a developer favorite. There's automatic tag completion, syntax coloring, text-size zoom and IntelliSense-like "intelligent entry helpers." The helpers keep your XML valid by watching the referenced DTD and prompting for required elements or attributes. You can tweak elements in source view and then flip to the graphical grid for broad tasks like moving blocks of data.

The software streamlines editing of XPath query syntax, via the Copy XPath feature that puts expressions right on the clipboard. The Evaluate XPath feature even returns dynamic results as you type and gives you a choice of XPath 1.0 or 2.0 syntax.

XMLSpy has valuable tools for those who need to fetch, store or transform XML using the most popular databases, including SQL Server, Access, IBM DB2 and Oracle. The built-in code generator on the DTD/ Schema menu produces classes for Java, C++ or C#. For C# in Visual Studio, you have a choice of project files, including Visual Studio 2005. The .NET classes incorporate the XmlDataDocument object to load, save, parse, navigate and generally manipulate the XML.

While XMLSpy 2007 integrates into the Visual Studio IDE, users may prefer the less-cluttered standalone interface.

About the Author

Ken Cox is a Canadian .NET programming writer and the author of "ASP.NET 3.5 for Dummies" (Wiley).

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