<oxygen/> XML is not a cheep application, it is quite effective, as I have been on the learning curve for a couple of months deciphering cryptic XML How To books one after another, as I am sure many other O'XML users will validate themselves.
Due to my rude and obnoxious belief in standardization and my belief in ISO at home work and play I can say, with extreme honesty, that, inspite of the inevitability of the incurrance of bugs in any program, these Guys and Gals in the O'XML design faculty and the user-base are earnest in helping one another acquire an extremely portable and standards compliant XML authoring environment...
It's worth every penny without arguement!
I've used XMLSpy with BEA Web Logic Java web application development environmentsand as a standalone application, of which BEA and XML Spy are awesome in their own rights...
but at a frightningly 1,900% cost overhead on the consumer, as compared to O'XML on average, without taking into account, any special user/management specific training on the XMLSpy platform, that 1,900% markup is just for the license to publish publically for a commercial market.
If you would like extended user support packages, and a future upgrade subscription, you can expect to part with an additional $500 to $1000 dollars U.S. currency.
You can honestly expect to spend around the sum of $2000 to $4000 dollars outright to get what we have here with <oxygen/> XML, in one package, where-as, if you obtain XMLSpy, you might want to burn some more cash and obtain their XSLT editing suite for another $1000 or so...
When it is all said and done there are quite a few analogies that could serve to consolidate this situation in less than two lines, but unfortunately I can not remember any of them, so I'll put it this way...
Out of any 50 people put together into a single group, how many of those people will come across $99 dollars before they have saved up $2000, the answer is every one of them, you can not save money retroactively.
The O'XML pricing scheme affords longevity through affordability, it is in fact, a well known and more times than not the most honest marketing initiative, as opposed to have it all right here, right now.
Allot of companies price themselves out of the market, market niches, and or price their own product out of existence, due to a numbing market, where noone shows any interest in a product, and a company ends up with large bills due to unsuccessful advertising campaigns.
Get the XMLSpy home license, and the demo version of <oxygen/> and give each product a fair and focused run for functionality and ease of use for a thirty day period, and at the end of that thirty day period review the perfomance off each application, and take a look at which application you know more about to determine user friendly interface and learning curve.
The inherent complexities of making a determination as to the usability and effectiveness can be curtailed by comparing the features that you have used in both applications and find a relative understanding of, and compare the results for each against each other.
Essentially though, the learning curve evaluation says nothing about the long term as far as productivity is concerned, so you'll also have to look at which application developed, at your command, the most responsive and valid end product, with the fewest errors due to incompatabilities, bugs that hindered or even halted the inclusion of desired effects, and most importantly the fun factor, which application did you have the best of it with.
You will definitly want to design a project prior to activation of the application that you will test, and you can usually find some help in these here forums, and a good way to get some seasoning under your belt is to use a plain old editor first with your project code and a browser, which should yield the expected results, if the project itself is to standard, and this will also allow you the potential author the opportunity to become familiar enough with XML to understand what you are looking at and what result to anticipate, if you are not already familiar with XML itself.
Using a typical word editor and an XML help/tutorial site will get you up to relative snuff, so that you are not taking yourself for a fruitless endeavor, as in trying to explore an editor/authoring environment like <oxygen/> XML and run out of time with the trial period license, just trying to learn XML.
The process of shopping around for a deal can be a rather deep excursion into ambiguity (the unknown and mysterious), but if you take the time to do it right it will in itself pay you in the long run.
In my honest opinion and in closing, I can tell you that if it were not for the price, I would have purchased XMLSpy awhile ago, but now after using <oxygen/> XML, I look back on the concept of purchasing another product instead of O'XML and in my gut I can say in good conscience I would have regrets with that decision, oddly enough.
I hope I've helped you in your journey to find the best tool for your particular needs, and by the way, it may sound like I work for these guys, I don't, I'm currently gearing up for college for I.T. and web design (information/internet technology).