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Swiss File Knife

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Depeche View
Source Research
First Steps

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XMLStarlet is a command line tool with many functions for handling XML files, but the most interesting function discussed here is the reformatting of XML files, making them better "human readable".

SFK The Book - A Long Winters Literature.

today's software development is unimaginable without XML files. configuration data, request content, documentation - everything is packed into XML today, but often these files are not easy to read and nearly impossible to edit with a normal, straight text editor (the only way in which I edit xml's), simply because some generator bot didn't really care about the end user, or developer, who has to cope with it.

to reformat the stuff,

  • download XMLStarlet from here.
  • unzip the file
  • copy the xml.exe somewhere into your PATH, or onto usb stick.
now, to pretty reformat any .xml file, type
   xml format myinput.xml >myoutput.xml
and get a well-formatted myoutput.xml.

how to reformat many xml files in one command

using the free swiss file knife, you can reformat many xml files in one go like this:

1. select the files you are interested in. for example:

   sfk list . xml

selects all .xml files from the current directory tree, like:


2. extend the command to run xml.exe on each file:

   sfk list . xml +run "xml format $file" -to pretty\$file -yes

example output:

   written: pretty\apps\JSR172Demo\server\src\config.xml
   written: pretty\apps\JSR172Demo\server\src\jaxrpc-ri.xml
   written: pretty\apps\JSR172Demo\server\src\web.xml

in this example, the reformatted contents are written into output files under a directory "pretty".
let us view how config.xml was reformatted by:

   dview . config.xml

which simply displays all "config.xml" files in the current directory tree using depeche view:

click to enlarge

further reading: how to reformat source code

Download the free Depeche View Lite Text Search Tool