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Naming the forms/attribute technology [was Re: Discussion points for "Forms-A"]

From: Mark Birbeck <mark.birbeck@webbackplane.com>
Date: Mon, 27 Oct 2008 16:29:45 +0000
Message-ID: <ed77aa9f0810270929maffc5c8j738826699c733f65@mail.gmail.com>
To: "John Boyer" <boyerj@ca.ibm.com>
Cc: public-forms@w3.org

Hi John,

> 1) In the last 10 minutes of the face-to-face, the issue of the name
> "WebForms-A", versus "Forms-A", was raised.  Discretion being the better
> part of valor, I Iet the matter go at the time because we had the imminent
> possibility of exposure of the document at the tech plenary, and some
> concern expressed about the name possibly vexing certain parties.  However,
> I do still want to circle back to having a discussion about that name
> because I think it is a mistake to call it anything other than WebForms-A.
> The W3C is that organization whose mission is to "lead the *web* to its full
> potential".
> We are the Forms working group *within the W3C*.
> Our mission is to define the "next generation of forms *for the web*".
> I do not believe it is belligerent or provocative to call our work what it
> is.  WebForms-A is a way to impart next generation forms functionality to
> web pages with an attribute decoration methodology.  I think we are overly
> worried about vexing others who, on the one hand have not shown us the same
> consideration, and who on the other hand will have every reason to absorb
> our work on "WebForms-A" into the HTML/Forms task force and use it as the
> next generation of what is currently called "WebForms 2.0".
> Put another way, if there is going to be a mending of the rift at all, it is
> probably going to get called WebForms-A anyway.  We *have* to drive adoption
> of our technology, and calling it other than "WebForms-A" goes beyond issues
> of appeasement and nice-guys-finish-last and right down to just being a
> suboptimal marketing decision for our wares in the real world.

I wasn't on the telecon when the name WebForms-A was chosen, but on
reading the minutes I have to say I was disappointed. I felt that the
name unnecessarily referenced WebForms, and I also felt that too many
different 'axis' were being addressed at the same time.

To explain what I mean, we already have RDFa at the W3C, which is a
way to mark up RDF in documents, using merely attributes. The
'attribute technique' that we are discussing within the XForms WG is
very much part of this general approach.

So the first thing I was thinking is, would not a suffix of 'a' be
better than '-A'?

Even if you don't buy my argument for consistency, there is a more
practical reason; we used to call RDFa by the name of RDF/A, but found
that this wasn't very friendly to Google. The problem is that although
Google will correctly find documents that contain "RDF/A", it will
also return documents that contain "I like RDF. A day in the life."
and "RDF: A standard for metadata." If we use the name "WebForms-A",
we're going to suffer exactly the same fate.

Next, given that the convention we have here is to take some existing
technology and 'attributise' it, then my preference would be to stick
with XForms (it's quite a cool name, after all) and just add 'a'.
Unfortunately, the lower-case letter on the end gets lost, so I don't
know what to suggest there. Maybe it becomes XFa, or maybe it's

Anyway, my key points are:

  * whatever we call it, we need to lose the hyphen, because it's non-search
    engine friendly;

  * I'd prefer to see "WebForms" taken out of the name, since it implies a
    lineage that simply doesn't exist;

  * I like the name XForms, and think we should try to build on it, in some
    way. After all, what we are talking about is essentially another version
    of XForms, not something completely new.



Mark Birbeck, webBackplane



webBackplane is a trading name of Backplane Ltd. (company number
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Received on Monday, 27 October 2008 16:30:20 UTC

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