One simple way to work with XML data is to open it in Excel. Inside of Excel, choose File | Open, select your XML file, and use the default options to display the data in Excel.

You might also want to play with the Use the XML Source task pane option that you see when you first opt to open an XML file in Excel. So create a new Spreadsheet and repeat the first step from paragraph 1, but this time choose Use the XML Source Task Pane. After you choose that option, click through a dialog or two, then you will see a “map” of your data structure (the metadata) in the right side of the Excel screen, but no data. Not yet. (Since I want you to display metadata in this assignment, the ability to see the “map” is a nice feature.) Drag a few fields from the Map area to your blank spreadsheet. For instance, drag the name of a plant and its mass.

Now make sure the Developer tab is visible in Excel. Choose File | Options | Customize Ribbon and check the Developer option on the right in the Main Tabs section. Close the Options. Now you should see the Developer tab at the top of Excel. Turn to that tab. Select Import. Browse for your XML file and you will see that just the fields you selected are visible in Excel. Play with this technology for a bit, choosing different options in the XML Map each time you import data.

Internet Explorer also does a nice job of displaying XML data.