Why is XML Authoring so hard?
Here is a brief account of my XML authoring adventure:
Last week I wanted to author a document that looked like a W3C specification, and which separated the content (a XML file) from the presentation (an XSL file). As I usually do, I started with an existing W3C document, http://www.w3.org/TR/2003/WD-wsdl12-20030124/wsdl12.xml and existing stylesheet http://www.w3.org/TR/2003/WD-wsdl12-20030124/xmlspec-wsdl.xsl and made the appropriate modifications using my favorite text editor TextPad. I used MS IE6.0 to view the transformed document, after every paragraph. This would not only show the transformed HTML document with intended look and feel but would also catch silly mistakes (like omission of </p> tag).
This worked okay for a while but soon I got weary of switching between TextPad and IE. Kept wondering that there got to be a better way to create such documents. May be there are XML authoring tools out there.
Authentic (part of XMLSPY product family) looked more promising, partly because it had a $100.00 plus price tag and partly due to snazzy looking screen shots. Installed an eval copy on my local machine and started playing around. However, my excitement was short-lived. Pretty soon I learn't that it worked okay for pre-packaged stylesheets, compiled into some internal format known as .sps format. Use of an external stylesheet required used of a Stylesheet Designer. My attempts to find this, either within Authentic or at Altova's (company that sells Authentic) web site, produced no results !!
I had spent more than 6 hours and no luck !!
Perhaps I should make the switch to emacs and Ovidiu's xslt-process !! However, given my multiple (failed) attempts to switch to emacs, that will have to wait for another day.
For the time being, I am back to where I had started -- TextPad and IE. They work just fine and don't put artificial restrictions on what I can do.