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what the voices in my head tell me to write

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

just saw my first X-forms document 

It wasn't pretty but it was very very interesting.

I have heard of Xforms before and not really paid much attention to them. I know that none of the major browsers supports them out of the box, plugins are needed.

The one I saw today was doing sort of AJAX look ups to get data from an XML API and pre-populate the form. Then it had a load of event driven stuff to validate and submit the form. All done with xhtml tags and not a line of javascript. Its all really powerful.

But of course no one really uses it much as no one uses it much... its caught in a vicious circle. The only way this will change is if IE implements it natively and then Adobe put it into Dreamweaver so noddy developers will use it. Its perfect for a visual editor really. As its all tag driven its simple to understand and work with. It makes like easier for server side folk to as they don't have to worry about doing validation etc. they just expose an API. An awful lot of the grunt work in any web application is processing form data. This is what Xforms is all about and it pushes all the work down to the client.

What are the chances of MS and Adobe making their changes to flagship products to accommodate it when they both probably have competing products/technologies? Slim to none.... I would be really annoyed if I had spent ages developing Xforms for the W3C knowing that the chances of anyone really using it are minute.

Permanent link and Comments posted by Rob Cornelius @ Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Comments:
It's good to hear that you like the idea of XForms, but many of your statements don't really follow.

There are many ways to add features to a browser, ranging from IE plug-ins and Firefox extensions, through to script libraries. XForms can be implemented with all of these. So just as Dojo and script.aculo.us, Google Maps and Flickr are not supported by browser-vendors, but are doing very nicely, so too the success of XForms is not dependent on the browsers.

The question of tools is an interesting one though, and you are right that we need more in this area. Eclipse has made a start, and the fact that there are schemas to validate XForms documents means that building a specialised editor, or even using a standard XML editor, is a viable option, and the situation will improve.

But finally, I don't know why you say that no-one is using XForms. It's certainly true that most of our customers are keeping quiet about what they are doing, and many of them are not producing public web-sites, but desktop applications that make use of XForms' ability to define forms. But that doesn't mean no-one is using it.

That's not meant to be your usual, whining "please believe me that technology X is more popular than everyone thinks it is" :) since whether you believe me or not makes no difference; the proof will be whether in two or three years time the momentum has continued, or fizzled out. All I'm saying is that since you don't know, you might as well say you don't know, rather than speculating that XForms has a "minute" chance of success.

All the best,

Mark

Mark Birbeck
http://internet-apps.blogspot.com/
 
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