Parsing the XML

Today our system receives input files from mainframe systems in custom format. However starting next year, we will be getting some files in XML format. Today the lead developer on that task shared some of the technology options to deal with reading the input data.

I liked some of the first options that were presented. Essentially they were using a high level language such as C or Java to work with the XML parser provided by Oracle Corporation. The destination of our data is a huge Oracle database.

One of the other options was to use XML DB to pull the XML right into our database as XML. Then we could use some code to further process the XML data from the database. This sounded good as we have a number of developers with Oracle PL/SQL coding talent.

A DBA on our project thought storing huge amounts of XML in our database would be painfully slow. Instead he recommended we transform the data using XSLT. The we could directly load the transformed data into our database with quick loading programs from Oracle. This was all good food for thought.

XML Notepad 2007

While reading an article on the best free tools for your PC, I spotted a product called XML Notepad 2007. This is a free download from Microsoft. I decided to give it a try. We are moving to an XML format for input files next year.

The download was not too large. What really impressed me was how fast the tool installed. Sure it is just a little XML tool. But these days even the simple tools seem to take forever to install. In contrast, once installed, the tool seemed to take a while to launch.

The “read me” file that came with the install said XML Notepad 2007 has been downloaded over one million times. I wonder whether that was the number of downloaded at the time when they released this version (v2.5). Or perhaps the application calls home to Microsoft to determine the current counts.

The application has a right pane which show information from your XML document. At first it seems sparse. But it fills up as you select items in the tree on the left hand pane. This application feels like a simple viewer. However it states that you can use it to create XML documents as well.

I found the tree like structure on the left hand pane useful for determining the structure of the XML in some test files. In other words I could see the hierarchy of parent and child relationships. Make no mistake. This product is no XMLSpy. But it will do until my company can purchase me an XMLSpy product.