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Setting the record straight on XMLSpy Home Edition and Authentic

Ed takes another look at XMLSpy to set the record straight on what you get from the free version.

Every now and then when I talk about XML software, I'll get my wires crossed, and inadvertently misstate myself or misrepresent a vendor's or developer's products. When that happens, I start by apologizing to all concerned—including you, my gentle readers—and do my best to set the record straight. In an earlier XML tip, I became confused between the roles and capabilities of two of Altova's XML products—namely, XMLSpy Home Edition and Authentic. Please accept my humble apologies for the mix-up, and let me quote from an extraordinarily nice e-mail from Tracy Sullivan, the PR Manager at Altova:

XMLSpy Home Edition is actually the free, reduced feature version of XMLSpy for technical novices. Authentic, on the other hand, is a non-technical interface to an XML document framework intended for business users. Using Authentic requires that an XML Schema already exists (usually created with Altova XMLSpy Professional Edition or Enterprise Edition) and a StyleVision Power Stylesheet (SPS) has been created using one of Altova's other products, called StyleVision. The SPS file represents the electronic form that non-technical business users can fill in or edit using Authentic. This is also known as an Authentic form. Sample Authentic forms in our software include a business expense report and an organizational chart, but customers build all sorts of applications for Authentic, some of which are listed on the customer pages of our Web site.

Thus, those interested in checking out the capabilities of a pretty full-fledged and free XML editor will want to visit and grab XMLSpy Home Edition. In case you're curious about what's missing from the home edition as compared to the product's other editions (enterprise, and professional), you'll find a peachy features matrix that tells what's in and what's out of each of these versions. Suffice it to say here that the home edition loses:

  • a lot of advanced editing features (context-sensitive data-entry helpers, various positioning and placement marginalia, enhanced find and replace utilities, and so forth)
  • all kinds of fancy DTD and schema editing, generating, and handling capabilities
  • fancy display representation capabilities (including grid & table views, XPath and formatting objects support, advanced XSLT support, and document versioning/differencing support)

among odd's'ends of other stuff.

As for Authentic, as Tracy so nicely points out, it's basically a tool for unsophisticated, non-XML-savvy, business-oriented end-users to access and fill out forms online. In other words, it's a data capture tool that can make use of snazzy XML-based definitions and data displays, but that looks and acts to its target audience like just another set of data-entry forms. Developers (and the companies or organizations who employ them) will find it very interesting as a way to include all kinds of sophisticated data-typing, value checking, and quality control in the data they ask their users to collect and turn in, but it's by no means an editing tool in any way. See the Authentic page at for more info, and please accept my apologies for the mix-up once again. Otherwise, everything else I said about Authentic in the earlier tip is true, including all of its input handling, validation and verification abilities.

Ed Tittel is a writer, trainer, and consultant based in Austin, TX, who writes and teaches on XML and related vocabularies and applications. E-mail Ed at

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