XML markup tool
April 29, 2019 5:07 PM   Subscribe

I need a tool to quickly and simply mark up text with XML — for people who don't know XML.

I am looking for a tool that lets users simply highlight text and then click something to surround the highlighted text with XML tags.

For example, a user could highlight the work "click" in the previous sentence and then click a button/menu/etc. to apply "verb" tags around it. (This is just an example. There will be a simple taxonomy of tags for the user to choose from.)

This is for non-technical people to categorize text without needing to understand what is actually happening under the hood.

Google is failing me, as most "xml editors" are far too complex and powerful for what I am trying to do. At the "simpler" end of the spectrum are tools like Notepad++, which require the user to understand the concept of XML tagging.

Free is preferable, but I would pay for the right solution. Any suggestions?
posted by hayvac to Technology (4 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I think you need to simplify what you are looking for. For example, you could have users highlight things different colors in Word based on a key, and then it is on you to extract that XML from the XML files that make up a Word document. There are probably more sophisticated ways to do this, possibly with mark-up tools pointed toward editors.
posted by rockindata at 6:02 PM on April 29, 2019 [2 favorites]

Looks like there are actually tools for this kind of textual mark-up. For example, Catma is a textual analysis tool that supports your use case, and many others. Lighttag looks like another, lighter weight tool. Googling for "textual markup tools" gets you many other options
posted by rockindata at 6:28 PM on April 29, 2019 [2 favorites]

It's been ages since I've managed content in XML, but Ultraedit will allow you to build or import a tag/entity list. While it supports more advanced work, it does have a basic level of functionality that's simply "highlight text and apply tags" from your predetermined tag list (or via hotkey settings). I've seen people who couldn't tell you what a DTD or an entity is carry out basic markup work in it. It might be way more than what you're looking for, but you can get a free trial to see.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 8:45 PM on April 29, 2019

How long is the list of tags? If it's not too long I'd give them any XHTML editor that suits your needs, out of the infinite number that are available—many of which are free and very customizable—and tell the users to bold if it's a verb, italicize if it's a noun, strikethrough if it's an adverb, etc., and then have a post-processing step with an XSLT (or any other XML-handling programming language, which is all of them, whichever can be easily hooked into the editor you use) to transform the XHTML tags to and from your <verb> (or whatever) tags.

Even if it's a long list of tags, if your users aren't colorblind then a variety of colors in combination with other text styling is still going to get you pretty far. And customizable web-based XHTML editors—see the ones in the “web-based” subsection of this list, the open-source CKEditor being the one I'm most familiar with—are in general going to let you label the button which applies a style however you like (i.e. you could label the button for an orange-bold-underline CSS style as the “verb” button.) You'd need some proficiency in web technologies to set something up with a web-based editor but since you mention founding a tech startup in a previous question I'm guessing you'll have access to that.

Note that many of the things called “XML editors” involve a two-step process: a first one in which a more technical person essentially designs the user interface for editing XML content, then a much simpler UI presented to the end-user. But if you're just using simple non-nested XML elements without any XML attributes, applied intermittently within a larger flow of text, I'd go with a mature free XHTML editor product plus simple customizations, and invest lots of time in documentation and training for the non-technical end-users. (Which, realistically, is always very important anyways.)

You don't say where the XML content is coming from or going but web-based editors usually provide simple examples for storing content in files on a server, in a database, and other example applications in various programming languages.
posted by XMLicious at 4:46 AM on April 30, 2019

« Older Canadian w/ US/CAN dual citizen spouse. Will my...   |   What films dwell on the consequences of... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments