Massively parallel computations consist of a mixture of computation, communication, and I/O. Of these three components, implementing an effective parallel I/O solution has often been overlooked by application scientists and has typically been added to large scale simulations only when existing serial techniques have failed. As scientists' teams scaled their codes to run on hundreds of processors, it was common to call on an I/O expert to implement a set of more scalable I/O routines. These routines were easily separated from the calculations and communication, and in many cases, an I/O kernel was derived from the application which could be used for testing I/O performance independent of the application. These I/O kernels developed a life of their own used as a broad measure for comparing different I/O techniques. Unfortunately, as years passed and computation and communication changes required changes to the I/O, the separate I/O kernel used for benchmarking remained static, no longer providing an accurate indicator of the I/O performance of the simulation, and making I/O research less relevant for the application scientists. In this paper we describe a new approach to this problem where I/O kernels are replaced with skeletal I/O applications that are automatically generated from an abstract set of simulation I/O parameters. We realize this abstraction by leveraging the ADIOS  middleware's XML I/O specification with additional runtime parameters. Skeletal applications offer all of the benefits of I/O kernels including allowing I/O optimizations to focus on useful I/O patterns. Moreover, since they are automatically generated, it is easy to produce an updated I/O skeleton whenever the simulation's I/O changes. In this paper we analyze the performance of automatically generated I/O skeletal applications for the S3D and GTS codes. We show that these skeletal applications achieve performance comparable to that of the production applications. We wrap up the paper with a discussion of future changes to make the skeletal application better approximate the actual I/O performed in the simulation.