Menota Handbook 3.0
Guidelines for the electronic encoding of
Medieval Nordic primary sources

Appendix C: XML Editors

Version 3.0 (12 December 2019)

by Alex Speed Kjeldsen

C.1 Introduction

In order to write and edit XML one needs some sort of editing tool. Due to the nature of XML almost any text editing tool can be used, but there are also some specialised editors on the market. The decision on what kind of editor to use depends more or less entirely on personal preference and what kind of software the individual users are familiar with.

An XML aware editor offers various kinds of help or assistance not found in plain text editors, e.g. syntax highlighting, completion of element names, attributes and attribute values, automatic appending of closing tags, (real time) verification of the XML source based on an XML schema or XML DTD. This speeds up the working process and generally leads to more consistent and well-formed XML documents. In addition, some editors make it possible to run XSLT transformations directly from the editor and offer helpful XSLT debugging features.

The suggestions made below are only meant to be a guide to what we feel are convenient tools based upon our own experience within the Menota community.

C.2 <oXygen/>

<oXygen/> is a dedicated (pure) XML editor with quite a few specialised functions that are not normally found in generic text editors, and it is probably the most used XML editor in the Menota community. It offers all help and assistance mentioned in section C.1 above, and XSLT workflows are especially well supported from within the editor.

<oXygen/> is cross platform and can be used on GNU/Linux, Mac OS and Windows. It is a good choice if you prefer a dedicated XML editor with a lot of built-in features and do not mind switching to more generic editors for other writing tasks, and if you do not mind using proprietary (closed source) software.

C.3 GNU Emacs

GNU Emacs is not a dedicated XML editor but a more generic text editor with excellent support for working with XML through its built-in NXML mode. It supports most of the features found in <oXygen/>, but some features, like the direct support for XSLT tranformations, are not supported out of the box. GNU Emacs is therefore somewhat more difficult to set up.

GNU Emacs is cross platform and works on even more systems than <oXygen/>. It is an excellent choice if you want to stick to one editor and to perform all your text related tasks in one editor, and also if programmability is essential, and if you prefer working with non-proprietary, free software.

C.4 Alternatives

Apart from <oXygen/> and GNU Emacs there are several other XML aware editors. For example, Altova XMLSpy and XMetaL are good candidates, but they have the downside of only working on Windows systems.

For an updated comparison of XML aware editors, see the dedicated Wikipedia article.