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Useful Microsoft XML Tools 2017

Monday, September 25, 2017

Figaro was initially released back in 2008/2009 before coming down in 2010 for a while. Back then, Azure was still a hybrid of (and very much integrated with ) Windows Live, Amazon was rising as a popular cloud platform, and AJAX was still preferred over JSON. We kept a blog on the Windows Live site and posted about a dozen different topics, some of which we've migrated into today's blog platform for sake of posterity. Today, while looking for something I had written around that era regarding a Microsoft web portal dedicated to creating composite applications on top of APIs and services (anyone remember Microsoft Popfly??), I stumbled on a blog draft of useful XML tools.

Our list of (XML Resources)[http://help.bdbxml.net/articles/xml-resources.html] page of the Figaro documentation is probably the better place to get started if you're looking for additional tools, but these links are mostly direct download links - not something we want to put on that page, but noteworthy enough for a blog post.

The short list:

  • The msxsl.exe utility, a great tool for running XSL transformations (keeping in mind XQilla, as part of Figaro, can also manage your transforms too)
  • The XSD Inference (direct download) utility, which comes in handy for validating XML instances against schemas
  • XML Diff and Patch (direct download) for comparing and patching XML docs against each other

The big one at the time - which, I'm happy to say, is still available today - is XSD2Code, which is an add-on to Visual Studio. This utility, managed by Pascal Cabanel, provides first-class XML support in Visual Studio, allowing developers to autogenerate .NET code on top of their XSD as well as its changes. Unlike the xsd.exe utility provided by the .NET SDK, XSD2Code leverages modern language constructs such as generics and strongly-typed collections. I highly recommend this tool over xsd.exe if you're going to scaffold code on top of XML. You can get the extension from the marketplace here. (A Codeplex page with a 'community' edition can be found here: http://xsd2code.codeplex.com/)

I have to admit, it was a bit sad going exploring some of the links from that old blog post and finding many no longer worked; it's one of many symptoms that, despite the wealth of business-driven standards for it, Microsoft has lost interest in supporting the language it purportedly designed the .NET Framework to be a first-class citizen for. Then again, Visual Studio had long been using XML as a shoehorn for getting people further integrated into SQL Server, so I guess it served its purpose. Lucky for us, all of the original code still carries on in the framework, and XML is not dead yet!