A decade of development

Visual XML editor Vex ‘reborn’ under Eclipse, with 1.0 release

Chris Mayer
vex

The past ten years have seen the XML editor passed around the open source community, but finally Vex 1.0 gets its new lease of life at Mylyn Docs

While the current hot topic among the Eclipse community
may be the faltering performance of the new 4.2 platform, let’s not
let it distract us from the launch of a new Eclipse project ten
years in the making.

Visual XML editor
Vex
adds a glossy interface to dull raw XML files.
It uses standard DTD files to define types and CSS stylesheets to
define layouts of documents. By being under the Eclipse banner, Vex
also brings in many of the familiar Java IDE plug-ins such as a CVS
interface, document searching and bookmarking. It doesn’t stop here
though as it can be extended through third-party plugins or reused
cross-platform as a widget.

Yet v1.0 arrived after the
lengthiest of incubation phases. Written by John Krasnay and


initially beginning life as a project at SourceForge in
2002
, the Java Swing
application was essentially XML editor that looked like a word
processor and could produce better looking documentation. Krasnay
open sourced it, hoping to acquire development help along the way,
but it failed to make impact. An Eclipse-based version arrived in
2004, but development had all but ceased by the following
year.

Yet, against the odds, Vex saw
a new lease of life In 2008 as
Dave
Carver
 brought the
project to Eclipse.
He
told our
German
sister
publication
,
Eclipse Magazin that he wanted to
reboot to give the editor “greater exposure”. He added:

It had been sitting on SourceForge for years and active
development on it had stopped. There was also a need for a good
base in the XML community to have a good open source Visual editor
for XML. There are good commercial visual editors, but none of them
except for OxygenXML’s Author mode worked natively on
eclipse.

Putting Vex under the larger Eclipse Web Tools Platform
(WTP) Incubator Project back in 2008 seemed a natural fit to
Carver, utilising WTP’s XML pedigree. But last year it moved across
to an
other Eclipse project focused on markup
languages, Mylyn Docs,
under the stewardship of Holger
Voormann and
Florian Thienel
(lead).

After a decade of project pass the parcel, Vex is here for
all to use for their XML needs and the goals are still the same –
to create a sustainable community around the project. Hopefully it
still has relevance to developers over all that time. Why not give
this reborn visual editor a go?

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