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XML Schema Designer for Visual Studio 2008

The XML Schema Designer is a graphical tool for working with XML Schemas (XSD). It is integrated with Visual Studio 2008 and the XML Editor.

The XML Tools Team has just announced the first CTP of the XML Designer, which features the XML Schema Explorer. The Schema Explorer helps navigate, search and edit XML Schemas.

Many industry schemas consists of more than a single XSD file. Such schemas are composed of a root file and several other files, which are referenced by the root. This set of files make up a schema set. The Schema Explorer shows this schema set including all imported and included schemas when an XSD is opened in the Visual Studio XML Editor.

Schema Tree

The Explorer shows the schema set in a tree structure. The nodes in the tree are synchronized with the elements, types and attributes of the corresponding file in the XML Editor. Thus you may jump from the explorer (via double click) to the editor and vice versa (via "Show in XML Schema Explorer" context menu item). The tree is structured on the following levels in descending order: schema set, namespaces, files, and global nodes:

XML Schema Designer

Filter and Sort

Filter and sort options are available on the Schema Explorer toolbar. You may filter namespaces, files and compositors such as 'sequence', 'choice' and 'all'. Nodes may be sorted by name, type and document order within the tree structure.


Each node features a context menu that allows for navigating in the schema tree. You might "Go To The Type Definition" or "Go To Referenced Element".


The Schema Explorer offers two ways of searching within a schema set: text search and schema-aware search. The text search allows for searching by keywords. All matches are highlighted within the tree. In addition tick marks are placed on the scroll bar in order to easily navigate to all matches. The match count is announced in the explorer's status bar, which also features 'back' and 'forth' buttons.

The schema-aware search takes the schema into account. For instance in large schema files it might be very difficult to identify the root elements of the schema. The Schema explorer offers a "Show possible root nodes" search. Another example is the "Show all derived types" search.

The use of the features is demonstrated in a short video. The XML Team is planning for additional features, such as graphical views, which visualize the relationships between types and namespaces and type associations.

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