Friday, February 3, 2012

View Your FERC eTariff XML

After validating your Filing in TariffShark and downloading the zipped XML file, have you ever wanted to look at the XML before you ship it off to FERC?  This blog article describes one method for doing so.

An eTariff filing's data is coded in XML format.  XML is a plain text format, so it may be viewed using any number of file editors that can open and display plain text.  Because eTariff XML files can be VERY large, the XML file is compressed into a ZIP file.  The ZIP file is what actually gets submitted to FERC when making an eTariff filing.

1. Open ZIP File

Windows knows how to open a ZIP file, so special software is not needed.  Simply double-click the ZIP file downloaded from TariffShark and Windows will open it.  Looking at the open ZIP file is almost exactly like looking at the contents of a folder.  The difference is that folder contents are ready to be used and ZIP file contents must be extracted from (or copied out of) the ZIP file first.

2. Extract XML File

Extracting the XML file from the ZIP file is as easy as dragging it out of the ZIP window and dropping it on your Windows desktop.  This is how we typically do it.

3. Open XML File

There are many programs that can read and display XML files.  Some do a better job of it than others.  The biggest concern is that you use a program that is able to handle very large files because FERC eTariff XML files can be VERY large...sometimes many, many megabytes.

Our tool of choice is Notepad++, which is a free text file editor.  A standard Windows installer version is available for download from the developer's website here.

Start Notepad++ and select "File | Open..." from the menu to open the XML file that you copied to your desktop in Step 2 above.

About the XML

The XML file contains tags and data.  The tags appear within angle brackets and the data appears between the tags.
<record_id>1234</record_id>
In the example above, "<record_id>" is a tag that indicates the beginning of the Record Id data and "</record_id>" signals the end of the Record Id data.  Between the tags is the actual data, which is "1234" in the example.

There are a couple of tags in a typical eTariff XML file that you will not be able to read.  These tags contain binary data that can only be read and understood by a computer:
  • <att_binary_data>
  • <record_binary_data>

4. Delete XML File

When you're done viewing the XML, find the XML file that you placed on your desktop in Step 2 above and delete it.

If you have questions about viewing eTariff XML or if you use a different procedure for opening and viewing it, we'd love to hear from you.  Please comment below or contact TariffShark Support.

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