XAE (XML authoring environment) package for Emacs
11:51, 26 Jan 2001 UTC | Michael Smith

The open-source XML Authoring Environment (XAE) package for Emacs, developed by Paul Kinnucan, who also created the Java Development Environment for Emacs (JDE), aims to be an "easy-to-install, integrated development environment for creating, transforming, and displaying XML documents."

Kinnucan has said that in developing and maintaining the package, he is "determined to have a single download that will work 'out-of-the-box' without the user having to do anything but adding the appropriate load-path and require statements to their .emacs files."

The XAE needs to be used in conjunction with an HTML browser and currently offers integrated support only for DocBook documents[1], but it is apparently intended in part as a quick way for new users to get started on authoring XML documents in Emacs. Users who already have an Emacs XML editing environment set up -- especially those that want the convenience of integrated XSLT transform support and HTML display -- may find it worthwhile as well.

Yet another authoring package for Emacs

Though Emacs seems to be widely used in the XML development community and is the editor of choice for many open-source documentation projects, the transformation support in current SGML/XML-authoring packages for Linux -- for example, task-sgml (Debian packages) and docbook-tools (RPMs) -- is based on Jade and the DSSSL stylesheets for DocBook, not on XSLT. And Windows users have had no Emacs-based SGML/XML-authoring package/easy installs available at all, though Markus Hoenicka's widely used tutorial does provide step-by-step instructions for setting up a Windows authoring environment.

So the XAE appears be the only available Emacs-based XML editing package with integrated XSLT installation and transform support.

XSLT transform and display features

The XAE adds XSLT-related menus and commands to Emacs: a View Document submenu gives access to commands for displaying transformation results either in an XML-enabled browser (using the browser's built-in XSLT engine) or in a HTML-only browser (using Saxon to perform the XML-to-HTML transform before sending it to the browser):

XAE enables browsing in XML or in HTML
This display integration enables you to get back and forth fairly quickly from viewing the rendered version as you work on editing the XML source.

The Apply Stylesheet submenu enables you to choose any type of available XSLT stylesheet (not just an HTML-generating stylesheet) to apply to a document, initiating an automated process that transforms the document and then saves the transformation result as a file (without displaying it).

Other features

A Help submenu provides access to HTML documentation (the contents of DocBook: The Definitive Guide) for the DTD being used.

An XAE New submenu provides an easy way to start an editing session by choosing from one or more user- or site-configurable templates.

Starting an editing session by choosing a template

[1] It would be nice to eventually see support in the XAE for other DTDs -- or versions of the XAE for other DTDs -- such as TEI. Sebastian Rahtz has created (and actively maintains) a complete set of XSL stylesheets for the XML version of TEI, and complete TEI documentation is available as well.

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