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Notepad++, a Good Tool for Business Analysts to View and Search XML

Right now, my business analyst work is with data that is stored in an XML file. I’m only interested in about 10% of the tags in the XML and I often need to scan the entire file for a value in a given tag.  Notepad++ is a great editor for this. It lets me search a document, or all open documents, for a given value.  The results are shown in a split screen. I can scan the results and double click on the one I’m interested in to jump to that line in the file.  I can even copy the search results from the split screen to a new file, and then search within the search results.

There’s another neat trick you can do if you’re interested in a couple of tags which are close together, and you’re looking for certain pairs of information. Search on each tag, then copy all results to Excel. Since search results start with “Line 9”, where 9 is the line number in the file, you can sort on the results to get them in line number order. The elements of your pairs are now adjacent to each other, and you can manipulate away in Excel to compare, view, or filter the data as you wish.  (Note:  you’ll probably have to parse out the line number to make the sort work exactly right, but Excel’s Data>Text to Columns option makes that really easy.)

Notepad++ also contains features for finding and replacing values for files in a given folder, but I haven’t used that.

Additionally, maneuvering within the XML file easy. Notepad++ shows the hierarchy relationships and has the ability to collapse and expand at any level.

For my purposes, Notepad++ beats the heck out of Notepad and IE.

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