XMLSpy is an XML editor. I am looking at the XMLSpy version chart. I need part of the professional edition. The professional edition cost €399, about AU$499 or US$517. I am not about to spend $499 to get a small number of features I will use only occasionally. What is the open source equivalent to XMLSpy?
This article was originally written in 2004 and is now updated to 2012. There are few changes because XMLSpy still leads the pack. While XMLSpy wins, the alternatives are closer.
There are many open source XML editors on the Web. Most are oriented to editing XML files but provide little help with building an XML schema. I occasionally need an XML schema editing facility oriented to quickly generating new schemas. The free version of XMLSpy has some schema editing assistance but not quite enough.
XMLSpy is also restricted to Windows, which means I cannot use the one XML editor across all computers. I need an editor that runs on NT, Linux, Solaris, and Windows. Some of the alternatives are based on the proprietary Java, which means I cannot use them on a totally open source system.
What do you use to create XML schemas? What do you then use to edit XML data files based on the schema?
After a long search, I found nothing to replace XMLSpy for my use. Many people sent me email recommending products that run only on Linux. Lots of people recommended products that are cross platform, do edit XML, but do not intelligently edit schemas or DTDs. I ended up using the free home edition of XMLSpy for my immediate needs.
Morphon is a popular editor but the developers stopped developing Morphon. There are other products based on Morphon or very similar to Morphon. See XML Editors for a list of XML editors.
There is a real need for a great XML editor that helps you create the schema for your XML file, runs on both Windows and Linux, plus is open source so that it is not restricted by stupid licensing tricks. I am already having a battle with an accounting software company because they inserted a usage prevention system in to their software as part of an "upgrade". The last thing I need is an XML editor that randomly stops and forces me to call an office that is not open during my working hours.
I suspect that the free version of XMLSpy will stop most Windows users from looking at open source XML editor projects, which will slow down development of those projects. Once people use XMLSpy for business projects, some will end up in situations where it is easier to buy an XMLSpy upgrade than to switch to another product mid project. That will further lock people in to Windows. Microsoft must subsidise companies to write software so that the software runs only on Windows.
Serna XML Editor
Serna XML Editor is more expensive than XMLSpy and is included here only to show that XMLSpy is a good price when you want all the features of XMLSpy. If XMLSpy saves you 5 hours at $100 per hour, XMLSpy pays for itself. Serna XML Editor would require 8 hours saved at $100 per hour to pay for itself.
XML Copy Editor
XML Copy Editor is a good first step towards an alternative. Download from xml-copy-editor.sourceforge.net/. Linux with a
sort of Windows version through a compatibility layer.
Some of the documentation and reviews say the Windows version is different from the Linux version. The screenshots for the Linux version are of a poor quality and not enough to tempt me into testing the Linux version. The special features will help some people and will not solve the problems I had when I first wrote this review. The differences between the Windows and Linux versions will not help people convert.
Any ordinary editor which understands XML syntax
If you are not working full time on XML schemas, you can learn enough about schemas to write them by hand. Many modern editors have some XML syntax processing. If you can write a schema, the editor can check the syntax. This is the only real approach when you do not have an expense account for XMLSpy or you have to work across several operating systems.
XMLSpy is not such a bad deal if you work full time in that area and only use Windows. There is no real alternative for everyone one else; you have to learn more about XML then use any ordinary editor which understands XML syntax.