Linux Tactic

3 Easy Ways to Format XML Files for Better Readability

XML (Extensible Markup Language) is a human-readable data format used for document storage and data exchange between applications. XML files are versatile since they can store any type of data, from simple text to complex objects and hierarchical structures.

However, XML files can quickly become difficult to read without any formatting. Fortunately, there are several ways to format the XML files, making them much more readable and easier to understand.

Method 1: Using xmllint to pretty print XML

One of the most popular ways to format XML files is to use the xmllint tool. Xmllint is a command-line tool that validates and reformats XML files to improve readability.

The following steps will demonstrate how to install and use xmllint to pretty print your XML files:

1. Install xmllint.

Xmllint is available on most Linux distributions and can be installed using the package manager. 2.

Once installed, open the terminal and navigate to the directory where the XML file resides. 3.

Enter the following command to format the XML file: xmllint –format file.xml > formatted_file.xml

This will reformat the XML file and save it to a new file, “formatted_file.xml”, while keeping the original file unchanged. Method 2: Using XMLStarlet toolkit

XMLStarlet is another popular toolkit used for XML file formatting.

It is a set of command-line utilities that allow you to manipulate and format XML files in various ways. The following steps will demonstrate how to install and use XMLStarlet to format your XML files:

1.

Install XMLStarlet. XMLStarlet is available for download on the official website and can be installed on most platforms.

2. Once installed, open the terminal and navigate to the directory where the XML file resides.

3. Enter the following command to format the XML file: xmlstarlet fo -R -t file.xml > formatted_file.xml

This command will format the XML file and save it to a new file, “formatted_file.xml”.

Method 3: Using the xml_pp Command

The xml_pp command is a Perl module that can be used to format XML files. It allows you to specify a record style format for the output, which can greatly improve the readability of the XML file.

The following steps will demonstrate how to install and use xml_pp to format your XML files:

1. Install XML::Parser.

XML::Parser is a Perl module that is required for xml_pp to work and can be installed using the CPAN shell. 2.

Once installed, open the terminal and navigate to the directory where the XML file resides. 3.

Enter the following command to format the XML file: xml_pp -s file.xml > formatted_file.xml

This command will format the XML file and save it to a new file, “formatted_file.xml”.

Sample XML file

XML files can contain any type of data, including emails. The following is a sample XML file that describes an email message:

“`

John

Jane

Hello Jane

Hi Jane,

How are you doing?

I hope this email finds you well.

Best regards,

John

“`

This unstructured XML file contains all the necessary information for an email, including the sender, recipient, time, subject, and body.

However, without any formatting, it can be challenging to read and understand. The following is a breakdown of each element of the email.xml file:

– ``: This is the root element of the XML file, which contains all the email information.

– ``: This element represents the sender’s name. – ``: This element represents the recipient’s name.

– `

– ``: This element contains the body of the email. In conclusion, formatting XML files is essential for improving readability and making them easier to understand.

Methods such as using xmllint, XMLStarlet, or the xml_pp command can greatly improve the appearance and structure of XML files, making them more accessible to readers. Additionally, the use of descriptive names and elements helps to distinguish different parts of the XML file, making it easier to read and understand.

With just a few formatting tweaks, unstructured XML files, such as the email.xml, can become easy to read and interpret. 3) Method 1: Using xmllint to pretty print XML

Reformatting XML files is one of the most important tasks that programmers often have to undertake.

It is a crucial step because of the nature of XML files – they can often be too chaotic, unstructured or disorganized, thus rendering them unreadable. However, with the help of the xmllint tool, formatting XML files has become a breeze.

To reformat an XML file, you need to tell xmllint where the file is located and how you want it formatted. The basic syntax for reformatting an XML file using xmllint is as follows:

“`

xmllint –format [filename] [output file name]

“`

This command tells xmllint to format the input file (filename) and write it to an output file (output file name).

An option you can use with xmllint is the XMLLINT_INDENT environment variable. This variable helps to specify the number of spaces to use for line indentation; the default is two spaces.

Here’s how to use it:

“`

export XMLLINT_INDENT=” “

“`

This command sets the indentation to two spaces. You can change this to increase or decrease the number of spaces used.

4) Method 2: Using XMLStarlet toolkit

XMLStarlet is a command-line toolkit designed to manipulate XML and HTML documents. It is very useful for editing and formatting XML files.

Here’s how to install XMLStarlet on Ubuntu using a Snap package:

“`

sudo snap install xmlstarlet

“`

Once installed, you can start using XMLStarlet to format XML files. The xml command is used to output formatted XML.

There are several formatting options available with the xml command. These options are useful in many ways.

Below are the most commonly used formatting options:

– The `c14n` option: This option is used to canonicalize an XML file. It reorders the XML file’s elements in a precise way, making it easier to read.

– The `fo` option: This command tells XMLStarlet to format the input file according to XSL-FO guidelines. – The `omit-decl` option: This command lets XMLStarlet exclude the `` line from the output file.

– The `nsclean` option: This command tells XMLStarlet to remove any namespace declarations that are not used in the XML file. – The `eline` option: This command tells XMLStarlet to display line numbers for each element in the output file.

Here’s an example of how to use xml with the `fo` option:

“`

xml fo -R -t input.xml > output.xml

“`

This command takes the input.xml file and formats it to follow XSL-FO guidelines. It then writes the formatted output to the output.xml file.

Another useful option with XMLStarlet is the `sel` command, used to select a specific node/element from an XML file. You can use it to filter out only the parts of the XML file you need.

The following example shows how to use it:

“`

xml sel -t -m “//book[@category=’WEB’]” -v “@isbn” input.xml

“`

This command selects the `isbn` attribute from all `book` nodes that have an attribute `category` equal to `WEB`. In conclusion, utilizing the xmllint tool or the XMLStarlet toolkit can give you precise control over the format of XML files.

The xmllint tool can automatically format XML files, even when they are unstructured. On the other hand, the XMLStarlet toolkit affords users a very versatile range of formatting options to choose from.

By using these tools, you can easily take control of your XML files, making them more readable and accessible. 5) Method 3: Using the xml_pp Command

The xml_pp command is a Perl module that can be used for formatting XML files in a sophisticated manner.

Unlike the other tools mentioned earlier, xml_pp formats an XML file using a “record style.” In this style, each attribute of an element is displayed on a new line, making it easy to read. Here’s how to install xml_pp on a Debian-based distribution:

“`

sudo apt-get install libxml-perl

“`

Once installed, formatting XML files with xml_pp is a simple process. Let’s look at an example:

“`

xml_pp -s input.xml > output.xml

“`

This command formats the input file (input.xml) to the record style and writes the formatted output to the specified output file (output.xml).

The record style approach looks like this:

“`

Hi Jane,

How are you doing? I hope this email finds you well.

Best regards,

John

“`

In addition, xml_pp has other styling options that you can use:

– The `-s` option: As shown above, this option denotes the “record style.”

– The `-i` option: This option tells xml_pp to indent elements in the output file. – The `-d:` option: This option defines the delimiter character used for separating attributes.

By taking advantage of these various styling options, xml_pp can give you even more formatting control over your XML files.

6) Final Words

In conclusion, formatting XML files is a necessary task to improve their readability and accessibility. We have seen the different methods of formatting an XML file using xmllint, XMLStarlet, and xml_pp.

These tools provide different formatting options, making it easy to choose one that works best for a particular use case. Xmllint automates the formatting process, making it easy to format XML files with just a single command.

XMLStarlet provides precise control over the formatting of XML files with multiple formatting options and additional features such as selecting specific nodes/elements. Meanwhile, xml_pp allows you to format XML files using the record style, which provides a more readable format of the XML file.

We encourage you to try out these formatting methods for yourself so you can find the one that works best for your needs. If you have any queries or comments regarding XML formatting, please feel free to leave them in the comments section below.

We would be glad to help. In summary, XML files are versatile and can store any type of data but can become difficult to read without proper formatting.

The article discussed three methods for formatting XML files: using xmllint for pretty printing, using XMLStarlet toolkit for different formatting options, and using xml_pp for formatting XML files in record style. Each method has its own advantages and allows for precise control over the formatting of the XML file.

The importance of formatting XML files and how it can improve their accessibility and readability was emphasized. The main takeaway is that proper formatting of XML files is crucial for their effective use, and programmers should use these methods to improve the readability and organization of XML files.

Popular Posts