Encoding Guide for Early Printed Books

XML Editors

In order to create and edit an XML file (for instance, a TEI-encoded document), it's useful to have an XML editor. You can create an XML file using any plain-text editor such as BBEdit, TextPad, NoteTab, TextEdit, and others. An XML editor is simply a plain-text editor with some additional features that make it easier to work with markup.

There are several things an XML editor can do to make the work of encoding easier:

In addition, some XML editors can provide more advanced encoding support, such as support for version control or automated markup, and may even permit you to write your own plug-ins or special routines to support specific features of your own project's work flow.

Some XML editors expose the markup to you directly, so that you are looking at the actual XML code while you work, while others provide an intervening interface with icons or formatting in the place of the XML tags (and some do both). Some projects also work with encoding environments that provide fielded data entry (e.g. through a database or web form). While it's tempting to assume that a more "user-friendly" interface that hides the tags would be easier to learn and use, this is not uniformly the case, and such editors may not work well for efficient encoding in a project environment. Before deciding on an XML working environment, it is worth considering how long your encoding staff be working at your project, and how much training and technical support you have available, If you have little time or resources to train encoders, it's important to simplify the encoding process, and a web form may be an effective way to do this. (Note that this will only work for very simple and regularly-structured materials.) If your encoders will be working with your project for a year or more and you have time to provide thorough training, you may gain by investing the time in teaching them how XML and the TEI work: they'll be able to make better encoding decisions and will come away with a deeper understanding of the project. If you have very complex documents to encode, it's best to invest in thorough training and documentation from the start.

Here's a list of a few cross-platform XML editors that the WWP has used or experimented with, with some notes on their features: