Altova's XML Spy

Subject: Altova's XML Spy
From: Kat Nagel <kat_nagel -at- rte -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 7 Feb 2001 12:24:49 -0500

One of our project managers saw a review of Altova's XML Spy in Software
Development magazine and is proposing it as the development environment for
a new project. One of its advantages, supposedly, is that it makes it
possible to "automate documentation production using [he thinks] MS Word
macros."

He's asked what I think of it. This PM actually listens to what team
members have to say (wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles!), so I want to
get back to him with "buy it" response or a recommendation for an alternate
product ASAP.

I've never worked with XML. Although I've done a few projects using
Frame+SGML (which I like very much), there is no chance of getting my
(recently purchased for a specific project) vanilla Frame upgraded to
Frame+anything. The XML development environment purchased for this project
will be my only chance to begin doing some XML-based documentation here, so
I don't want them to buy anything truly icky.

I've found a couple of web sites with marketing-type information, and the
online version of the review that inspired the PM, but I'd prefer to hear
some war stories from survivors before I give them my opinion.

* Have any of you used this environment for documentation?
* Can you really use it to generate *documents*, or just DTDs?
* How does it compare to Frame+SGML?
* Can you work with it using variants of the standard DocBook DTD?
* How easy is it to customize an XML Spy DTD?
* Are there any gotchas I should be aware of?
* Are there better products that I can point him at?

If you reply to me offlist, I'll post a summary next week.

Thanks,
/K@ Kat Nagel, kat_nagel -at- rte -dot- com
"Technical fiction: This term refers to user manuals written
according to technical specifications or programmer assurances
about how a system is going to turn out, in the absence of a
working prototype." (M. David Orr, Orr & Associates Corporation)

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