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Effortless XML File Pretty Printing on Emacs

XML (Extensible Markup Language) is a widely used format for storing and exchanging data on the internet. It is a simple and flexible way to...

XML (Extensible Markup Language) is a widely used format for storing and exchanging data on the internet. It is a simple and flexible way to organize and structure information, making it a popular choice for web developers and programmers.

However, working with XML files can be a tedious task, especially when it comes to formatting and making the code more readable. Fortunately, Emacs, a popular text editor, offers a powerful feature that makes XML file pretty printing effortless.

Pretty printing, also known as code beautification, is the process of formatting code in a way that makes it easier to read and understand. This not only improves the aesthetics of the code, but it also helps with debugging and maintenance.

In this article, we will explore how to effortlessly pretty print XML files on Emacs, saving you time and effort in the process.

Step 1: Installing the necessary packages

The first step is to install the necessary packages for pretty printing XML files on Emacs. The two essential packages are 'nxml-mode' and 'xml-pretty-print'. These can be installed using the package manager of Emacs.

Step 2: Enabling nxml-mode

Once the packages are installed, we need to enable 'nxml-mode' in Emacs. This mode provides syntax highlighting and indentation for XML files. To enable it, simply type 'M-x nxml-mode' in the Emacs buffer.

Step 3: Opening an XML file

With 'nxml-mode' enabled, we can now open an XML file in Emacs. To do this, go to File > Open and select the XML file you want to pretty print.

Step 4: Selecting the entire document

To pretty print the entire document, we need to select the entire content of the file. This can be done by pressing 'C-x h' on your keyboard, which will select the entire buffer.

Step 5: Indenting the code

With the entire document selected, we can now use the 'xml-pretty-print' package to indent the code. Simply type 'M-x xml-pretty-print' in the Emacs buffer, and voila! Your XML file is now beautifully formatted and easy to read.

Step 6: Saving the changes

If you are satisfied with the changes, you can save the file by going to File > Save. This will save the changes you made to the file, and you can now use the pretty printed version for your development or project needs.

Bonus tip: Customizing the indentation

By default, 'xml-pretty-print' will indent the code with two spaces. However, if you prefer a different indentation style, you can customize it by adding the following lines to your Emacs init file:

(setq-default nxml-child-indent 4)

(setq-default nxml-attribute-indent 4)

This will change the indentation to four spaces, but you can adjust the number according to your preference.

In conclusion, pretty printing XML files on Emacs is an effortless process that can save you a lot of time and effort. With just a few simple steps, you can have well-formatted and easy to read XML files, making your development work more efficient. So the next time you are working with XML files, remember this helpful feature on Emacs and make your coding experience a breeze. Happy coding!

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