XML Design Documentation Tools

Please excuse the general suckiness of this page, I wrote it very quickly.

What the XML Design Documentation Tool Is

In short, it is a set of XML stylesheets and a schema that can be used to write and maintain software Design documentation, and then use the XML source to generate HTML, PDF, etc. copies of the documentation, as well as generating code skeletons and test scripts.

It should also be noted that there's practically nothing done at the moment. I've got a schema I'm pretty happy with, although it will probably be ripped to shreds before all is said and done, and a stylesheet for transofming the XML source into HTML that works reasonably well. My XSL-FO stylesheet might as well not exist, it's based on an earlier version of my schema and it didn't work all that great on that one either. I also haven't done anything in terms of making stylesheets for generating code skeletons or test scripts yet, either. I was going to do all this myself and then see if anyone else on sourceforge was interested in refining it, but I figured there might be some people who could lend a hand at this stage as well. It also turns out I've got much less time to spend working on this sort of thing than I had originally hoped, so it might speed things up a bit as well.

What the XML Design Documentation Tool Is NOT

A graphical user interface for making design documentation. You could use something like SoftQuad's XMetaL to do this, but it costs $$$, IMHO it's a pretty good piece of software though.

A document management system. Stay tuned, that project will probably be posted in a week or two :)

A full-fledged testing environment. Truth be told, among the things that I'm not even remotely done making yet is the entire test-script generation system. I'm not quite sure how I'm going to approach it, but I figured there's probably at least one person on sourceforge somewhere who will have an idea or two :)

But Why

First and foremost, I'm an XML nut and I think it's neat... and who needs a better reason than that? :) But seriously, I think there is room for some sort of freely available system through which design documentation could be written and maintained. There's a lot of good minds in the open source and free software communities, but I think lots of projects, especially smaller ones, suffer from problems stemming from a lack of a formal system design. That sounds kind of snobbish, but there really is something to be said for writing down your ideas, reviewing them either by yourself or with a team, and thinking things through. It's well worth the time, and I think if there was a way to make it easier to do and provide some little side benefits at the time, well hey, all the better. Besides, it's neat :)

I'm hooked, and I think you're a genius, but what can I do?

Thanks for the kind words, but you give me too much credit, really. My email address is at the bottom of this page. Truth be told, I sort of want to get this project up and running and then forget about it, because it's part of a grander vision which is what I'm really interested in working on. So any XML, XSLT, and XSLT-FO wizards could be very useful. Anyone with experience writing some formalized test plans would be a help too.

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Chris Ingrassia <chris@spicecoffee.org>
Last modified: Wed Jul 3 19:25:10 EDT 2002