Q4: What process did you use to author your XML content? Did you use any tools or software programs (including software that auto-generates XML code)?

JMM: There are three principal XML documents in our system: The Scenario Model, multiple Session Records and Session Logs. A Scenario Model is constructed manually. Currently, we use word processing, but we could use a syntax-directed tool to automatically build well-formed valid code. We just haven't done so yet. Session Records are automatically constructed from the Scenario Model by the Java application. The Session Record contains the particulars of a particular "run" of the game: who played what roles, which goals and learning objectives have been met, what reconfigurations of the user interface have been made (e. g. boxes dragged around the screen, etc.). Session Logs are also automatically generated by the Java application. They record all changes to the system's state, as well as all dialog that occurred through the built-in text chat system.

MG: We use multiple methods to author the XML: Initially the systems had their data described procedurally, at which point we made the decision to read the descriptions from a file. Instead of authoring the files from scratch we wrote serialization methods to output the existing descriptions in XML form. Subsequently people modified the XML files using regular text editors. Later, people developed several specialized authoring tools to modify and author XML files either directly or indirectly. It is common for games to have in-game "tweakers" which update the data structures directly after which the classes containing the data can serialize the data out to XML.

TG: All of my XML is coded with a regular text editor, such as notepad. There are many tools to make coding easier via color-coded syntax and auto-completing phrases, however I haven't found anything that works much better than the traditional copy and paste workflow.

BA: We use Adobe FrameMaker to author a good of documentation, mostly User's Guide topics, procedural stuff. This allows us to output XML which we then transform into HTML. That's half of it. The other half is automatically generated API Reference (class library) documentation. If your software product has a public interface (called an API or application programming interface) then you have to publish information about that interface. Often if the software is big, you don't want to write it by hand and there are tools for generating it automatically, where the tool looks at the source code comments and the structure of the software itself and builds pages of documentation. So with these two parts, the User's Guide and the API Reference, we have a complete document set. XML is used throughout. The final output of both parts is a set of HTML pages which are then compiled into a compiled help file. Also, from Adobe FrameMaker we can make printable PDFs of the User's Guide.

SS: We use Notepad for most of our XML tagging. Sometimes we use the built-in editors that come with the authoring environment, but it is easier to use Notepad. I know that many of the tools have all the bells and whistles; however, I can work faster in Notepad.





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