What Is an XSD File?

How to open, edit, & convert XSD files

What to Know

  • An XSD file is an XML Schema file.
  • Open one with Visual Studio or any text editor.
  • Convert to XML, JSON, or an Excel format with those same programs or a dedicated converter.

This article explains what XSD files are, including how to open one and how to convert one to a different file format.

What Is an XSD File?

A file with the XSD file extension is most likely an XML Schema file; a text-based file format that defines validation rules for an XML file and explains the XML form.

Since they are schema files, they provide a model for something else, XML files in this case. For example, an XSD file can require that the XML file have certain boundaries, relationships, order, attributes, nested characteristics, and other elements, as well as set any restrictions.

XML files can reference an XSD file with the schemaLocation attribute.

XSD files in Windows 10 that open with Microsoft Visual Studio
XSD Files. Lifewire / Tiim Fisher

HobbyWare's Pattern Maker cross stitch program also utilizes this file extension for its format.

How to Open an XSD File

Because XSD files are text files that are similar in format to XML files, they follow the same sort of open/edit rules. However, most questions regarding this file revolves around how to create one; here's a great blog post at ASP.NET about making one.

SchemaViewer is a free program that will display XSD files in the proper tree format, which makes them easier to read than with a simple text editor like Notepad.

The file can also open with Microsoft Visual Studio, XML Notepad, EditiX XML Editor, Progress Stylus Studio, and XMLSpy. Oxygen XML Editor is one of a few XSD openers that works on Linux, Mac, and Windows.

You can use a text editor, too, given that it's just a text file. See some of our favorites in this list of the Best Free Text Editors.

XSD File in Visual Studio Code
XSD File in Visual Studio Code.

Here's an example of what an XSD file looks like when opened in a text editor:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<xs:schema xmlns:xs="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema" elementFormDefault="qualified" xmlns:widgets="http://www.w3.org/ns/widgets">
<xs:group name="local">
<xs:any namespace="##other" processContents="skip"/>

If you're dealing with an XSD file used with Pattern Maker, you can, of course, open it with that software. However, for a free way to open and print the pattern file, HobbyWare offers the Pattern Maker Viewer program. Just drag the file into the program or use the File > Open menu. This viewer also supports the similar PAT format.

The Cross Stitch Paradise Android app can open cross stitch XSD files, too.

How to Convert an XSD File

The easiest way to convert an XSD file to another format is to use one of the editors from above.

For example, Visual Studio can save one to XML, XSLT, XSL, DTD, TXT, and other similar formats.

JSON Schema Editor should be able to convert one to JSON. See this Stack Overflow thread for some more information on the limitations of this conversion.

Another conversion you might want is XSD to PDF so that you can open the file in a PDF viewer. There probably isn't much of a reason to do this except to ensure that the code is visible on any computer that opens it. You can perform this conversion at XmlGrid.net or with a PDF printer.

If what you're looking for is an XML to JSON converter, there's this online XML to JSON converter that you can use to do that.

The XML Schema Definition Tool can convert XDR, XML, and XSD files to a serializable class or dataset, like the C# class.

You can use Microsoft Excel if you need to import data from the file and put it into a spreadsheet. In this "How to convert XSD file to XLS" question on Stack Overflow, you can see how to create an XML source from the file, and then drag and drop the data right onto the spreadsheet.

It's likely that the Pattern Maker program mentioned above (not the free viewer) can be used to convert a cross stitch file to a new format.

Still Can't Open the File?

If your file doesn't open with the programs and tools from above, there's a good chance you're not really dealing with an XSD file at all, but instead, a file that shares a similar file extension.

For example, the XDS suffix looks an awful lot like XSD, but is instead used for DS Game Maker Project files and LcdStudio Design files. Neither of those file formats are related to XML files or patterns.

The same concept applies elsewhere, like with XACT Sound Bank files that use the .XSB file extension. These are sound files that won't open with any XSD-compatible program. XFDL and XFDF are really similar.

If your file ends in a different file extension, research the letters/numbers you see to find which programs are able to open or convert that specific file type.

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