New Tools for XML and JSON Editing

The latest release of XMLSpy adds several user-requested features for working with JSON and XML, as well as new functionality for debugging XPath, updated standards and database support, and more.

JSON and XML tools in XMLSpy

Validation on Edit

Building on the robust JSON and XML validation tools in XMLSpy is new validate-on-edit in Version 2020r2. Immediate and detailed validation information is now available in both Text View…

Validate XML on edit

…and the graphical JSON Grid View:

Validate JSON during editing

This feature can be switched on/off in the program options, as well as via a toolbar icon.

I’ve been testing this feature for several weeks now, and I have to say, it’s changed the editing game for me. The ability to see errors and fix them the moment they’re typed saves so much time compared to addressing them later by running a validation check manually or when saving the file.


Speaking of saving your work, auto-backup in XMLSpy is great for recovering your file in the event of a software or hardware crash. The Tools | Options dialog gives users full control over whether to run automatic backups and with what frequency.

Green, yellow, red, and grey file modification symbols indicate whether a file is backed up, when a backup is pending, if a backup is not currently possible, and if backups have been disabled by the user.

Auto backup of XML and JSON documents

Improvements to XPath Debugger

To perfect your XPath or XQuery expressions, the XPath/XQuery Debugger in XMLSpy lets you move through the evaluation of an expression against the active file to analyze the results for each corresponding step of the evaluation, and you can also set breakpoints and tracepoints. At each step you can see the content of variables, as well as set custom Watch expressions to check additional aspects of the evaluation. For each step, the part of the expression being currently evaluated is highlighted and the result of evaluating that step is shown in the Results pane of the debugger.

Now XMLSpy is providing even more helpful details in the call stack window, letting you analyze the context and variables at each step in the call stack.

XPath debugger in XMLSpy

The speed of debugging has also been improved.

Updated Standards and Integration Support

XMLSpy supports a wide variety of XML and JSON related standards, as well as offering full relational database integration and integration with the Visual Studio and Eclipse IDEs. Several updates have been introduced:

Support for X3D

XMLSpy provides built-in support for numerous file types via the File | New menu, with support added in v2020r2 for X3D (eXtensible 3D), a file format used for representing and communicating 3D scenes and objects embedded in applications.

Integration with Eclipse 4.13 and 4.14

XMLSpy supports seamless integration with numerous versions of Eclipse, and support has been updated to include the latest releases.

Support for additional database versions

XMLSpy integrates with all popular relational databases. This reduces interoperability challenges by allowing you to easily query SQL databases and convert back and forth between databases and XML files.

XML and database integration in XMLSpy

Support for Informix, PostgreSQL, and SQLite in XMLSpy and other Altova products has been updated to include the latest versions of those databases:

  • Informix 14.10
  • PostgreSQL 12
  • SQLite 3.31

Learn more about everything added in the latest release of the XML and JSON editor. You can update to the latest version, or, if you’re not an XMLSpy customer, try it free for 30 days.

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How to Convert Legacy Text Files [Video]

It’s a common requirement to convert non-standard or legacy text files to or from structured data formats like XML, JSON, and relational databases. However, many times legacy text files are not in a format that can be readily processed by data mapping tools, especially when they have a complex and unique structure that does not consistently fit into CSV or fixed-length field patterns. Moreover, sometimes you need to extract only portions of useful data from a legacy text file.

MapForce, Altova’s any-to-any data conversion tool, includes a unique utility called FlexText that makes it easy to visually define templates for parsing text files and making them accessible to the data mapping tool.

See how FlexText works in our video tutorial.

The example files referenced in the video are available here and you can try FlexText with a free, 30-day trial of MapForce.

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Data Mapping JSON Lines

The JSON data format continues to evolve as an open standard as it is creatively applied to new data interchange requirements. JSON Lines, defined at, is a convenient text format for storing structured data where each record is a single line and a valid JSON object. JSON Lines handles tabular data and clearly identifies data types without ambiguity. This allows records to be processed one at a time, which makes the format very useful for exporting and sending data.

Altova MapForce supports data mapping JSON Lines as either a data source or target. Let’s look at a mapping project to extract records from a database table and map to a JSON Lines file for output.

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An Easy Way to Test HTTP Requests During Development

Web and web services developers often need to send HTTP requests – whether for testing APIs, testing REST and SOAP web services, or managing web sites.

XMLSpy makes it easy to send and receive HTTP requests directly in the XML and JSON editor during development with its HTTP Window and WADL/WSDL Import Wizard, a great time-saving tool for debugging web services.

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How to Create Fillable PDF Forms

Compared to traditional paper forms, fillable PDF forms offer numerous benefits – aside from saving trees – including removing issues with legibility, allowing data validation, reducing re-keying errors, and streamlining information storage and re-use.

I, for one, really wish my kids’ school would switch to PDF forms for the myriad back-to-school information pages that we fill out in triplicate every fall. Perhaps I can give the administrators a demo of StyleVision, which just added support for fillable PDF form creation.

Unlike other PDF form design tools, however, StyleVision also provides form workflow functionality via integration with StyleVision Server for extracting and processing the data that end users enter. Let’s take a look at how it works.

PDF Forms

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Create Free Surveys with SurveyMaker

Digital surveys are a great way to solicit and gather feedback.  An attractive, well designed survey that’s quick and easy for users to complete increases response rates and can be the key to unlocking valuable, actionable information from prospects, customers, employees, and beyond.

Altova SurveyMaker makes it easy to create full-featured, professional surveys quickly and easily. What’s more, it offers the flexibility to build surveys and analyze real-time results on your device of choice, via an app for iPhone, iPad, Android phone or tablet, Windows computer, or via any web browser.

Create free surveys with the SurveyMaker app
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Software Design Templates in Mobile Development Projects

Software design templates streamline mobile app development by eliminating implementation of repetitive components. Creating a design template also simplifies revisions and upgrades when a change to the template can roll through an entire project.

MobileTogether supports software design templates for user controls in cross-platform mobile apps to facilitate design reuse and make it easy to build efficient, flexible options for various app requirements.

A Control Template in MobileTogether is a design component that allows developers to specify and group user controls in a way that makes them easily reusable. Control Templates support parameters, and each template can be customized based on parameter values at runtime.

Let’s look at an example.

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