W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-forms@w3.org > October 2001

RE: XML Forms and XForms

From: Jouni Heikniemi <jth@dns.mikrobitti.fi>
Date: Mon, 29 Oct 2001 14:52:54 +0200 (EET)
To: www-forms@w3.org
Message-ID: <Pine.NEB.4.21.0110291227360.584-100000@dns.mikrobitti.fi>
On Mon, 29 Oct 2001, Josef Dietl wrote:

> "My XForms is not working" sounds natural to me - but it refers only to
> the XForms functionality. Can you imagine what could be used once the
> body of the form is in just some markup language (for a beginning,
> XHTML, SVG, VoiceXML, or SMIL), and "only" the forms-specific parts are
> XForms?

While I'm far from being a native English speaker, I agree with
Andrew: "My XForms is not working" does sound a bit odd. 

My blessed crystal ball of future language use prediction (tm) says that
the word "XForm" will be used to replace "form" in such uses where it is
necessary to emphasize that the form is implemented using the XForms
technology. Therefore its natural plural will be "XForms", which will also
mean the technology itself. Thus, I believe that all of the following
should be valid language use:

"My XForm doesn't work"
"I have already deployed hundreds of XForms on the site."
"The XForms are the solution to all our problems."

As for the technical ambiguity you noted: It's true that the word "XForm"
used in the suggested way makes no difference between the
XHTML/whatever parts of the form and the XForms technology itself.
However, this is a matter I don't think the anyone can change by
term-fiddling. Average web developers cannot see the borderlines between
the technologies even now, and all this modularization-namespace-embedding
hype isn't going to help it at all.

If the form has to be split into its technical components, then I would
just talk about XHTML code, the XForms model, instance data and so on. In
a normal conversation, the simple "XForm" would probably suffice. When
greater technical accuracy is required, the terminology is available; the
current WD is full of it. The need is for a more abstract term.

It should be noted, though, that the need for using "XForm" separately
from "form" varies by situation. For example, the current WD can live fine
without too many changes, because there are only few chapters where it's
necessary to make the difference between "XHTML forms" and "XForms
forms". For the most part "form" means the abstract form element, and it
is absolutely clear by context that it means an XForm. 

But try writing a simple article comparing XForms forms and XHTML Forms,
and I think you'll miss the ability to use "XForm". Distinguishing XForms
forms and XHTML Forms is also necessary in technical conversation as long
as both techniques are around. When XForms remains as the only way of
creating forms (hopefully soon!), it's no longer necessary to use the X;
word "form" in web context would then imply use of XForms anyway.

In other fields of use the situation may of course be different, but since
the web will probably be the most prominent gallery of XForms
implementations for pretty long, I feel that it's most important to set
the focus on predicted web creator vocabulary.

By the way, even the WD could use more clear terminology in some places.
2.3 for example has this sentence: "To convert the previous form into
XForms...". It should IMO be formulated according to one of the following
examples (in my personal order of preference):

"...into an XForm..."
"...into an XForms(-based) form..."
"To make the previous form use XForms..."

To summarize:

To me, XForm naturally means "an input form implemented with XForms,
including whatever XHTML/CSS/SVG/etc. framework necessary to implement the
form's functionality and interface". I believe this use will become common
among the web developers at least for some time, and should be accepted as

I wish the working group would consider the need of adding the term
"XForm" into the official vocabulary, in the meaning I outlined above.
This would make it easier to refer to a form as a whole, and also to avoid
cumbersome structures like "XForms-based form".


Received on Monday, 29 October 2001 07:52:58 UTC

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