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Mini-Review of xmlBlueprint 3

In this article, we have a look at Monkfish Software's xmlBlueprint 3 software, from a technical writing and Help authoring perspective. This is not an in-depth review, but a first look at the software as a potential documentation tool. Is this software suitable for writing documentation in DITA, DocBook, or a custom schema? Read on for the initial verdict.

xmlBlueprint is an XML text editor, with inbuilt validation, syntax-checking, and text manipulation features.

On first examination of the menus, it appears that the tool provides DocBook support, but this is not as exciting as it appears. xmlBlueprint is just a text editor, not a graphical editor. The DocBook support extends to automatically creating the document skeleton with the document type declaration, and allowing the user to select the next element from a list of valid tags. For example, as you type the angle bracket character (<), a popup list of valid DocBook tags is displayed. Similarly, when you start typing the close tag, the system auto-completes the tag name. xmlBlueprint calls this "XML Completion".

In fact, by nominating the URL of an XML schema, xmlBlueprint can process the structure information to derive a list of valid elements for any type of XML document.

When you are working on a document with an XSLT stylesheet, xmlBlueprint provides an output window, so that you can get some idea of what the document might look like when transformed. An "Explorer View" shows you a tree view of your content, making navigation through the document easier.

You can open a file in xmlBlueprint from your local computer, or directly from an FTP or WebDAV server.

There are a number of useful customisation features, so that you can use font or colours to identify tags, attributes, CDATA, and the tag's content. Another handy utility is an HTML to XHTML tidy feature, which works well when you are editing legacy HTML pages.

xmlBlueprint is easy to use, and costs USD45.00. It is a great little editor. Although it has a limited feature set, those features do work very effectively.

Further information can be found at: http://www.xmlblueprint.com/

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