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Re: [XForms] XForms and InfoPath

From: Ned Spilsbury <nspils@pacbell.net>
Date: Mon, 14 Apr 2003 18:43:15 -0700
To: <www-forms@w3.org>, <xforms@yahoogroups.com>
Message-ID: <006701c302f0$6236f000$7cf0cc3f@NEDS>

I tried to send this to the lists last week - it seems to have been
unsuccessful. I will try again ...

After I initially wrote this response I saw Andrew's post over the weekend
with the new posting by Microsoft about the Office 11 release. 

I feel even more sure that there is little to no desire by Microsoft to link
to or incorporate XForms into its InfoPath system. It now sounds to me that
InfoPath is being positioned as a "form generation" / "form rendering"
engine using XSLT to generate the presentation layer from the XML data
content. I will be continuing to search for more information about whether
Microsoft will be permitting people to generate an HTML or other
presentation format using its InfoPath engine. There appears to be NO effort
to adopt W3C standards other than the announced XSLT adoption. I have been
unable to determine whether or not InfoPath will work with XSD [or will it
be Microsoft's own DTD] to validate the XML, or if any other of the
technologies that XSLT can interact with ...


NOT being a WG member .... however, my take on the relationship:

THE PRESENT OF INFOPATH - The all inclusive language of description 
from the Microsoft camp makes InfoPath SOUND LIKE a rendering process using
pre-defined formatting templates based upon the "type of view" the user
wants to apply - this is consistent with the gobs and gobs of "templates"
and "wizard based template generators" which Microsoft has included in
several iterations of Office. It SOUNDS LIKE this will not be a stand-alone
or easily modified process ... and if it is modifiable it will be through
the use of a VBA type plug-in. However, it SOUNDS LIKE the expression of the
template will be reserved for users of Office 11 (and later).  

THE FUTURE OF INFOPATH - Some of the explanation I have read SOUNDS LIKE
InfoPath is seen as a start of a presentation engine that at some future
date may take the place of Word, saving the text or other content in XML
markup with separate presentation logic enveloping it ... more like an XSLT
or like DOC LITE or other such engines more than XForms.

[In my opinion, the uncertainty and looseness of the language used in
describing/explaining InfoPath arises from both Microsoft's unwillingness to
tip its hand - after all, this is a proprietary technology - and because it
has not "nailed down" what InfoPath is and where it's going and how much
they want to reveal their thinking of where they see it going . .. a part of
the process in marketing and positioning itself as well as the last-minute
modifications and implementations will come in the reading of the "talk on
the street" which will evidence what developers and users see as the use for
the technology.]

THE PRESENT OF XFORMS - the take I get about XForms is that it is intended
to be a "linga franca" base for XML's (data content) interaction with
presentation languages or engines when that presentation language or engine
is needed. Machine to machine interaction (program to program, web service
to web service) doesn't need forms because the machines/systems will share
or exhange XSD structure to be able to read and apply the content of the xml
received from the correspondent, and in formatting its reply directly.
However, when the XML is interacting with people, we don't want to be
reading nor writing "straight" XML, so we need an interface to put that
content into "human readable and usable" structure. XForms is the candidate
to be the junction between content and presentation. 

THE FUTURE OF XFORMS - XHTML, the future of HTML, will be strictly a
presentation markup language. It will have no content function. XForms will
supply the content function of this presentation language.

for what it's worth ...

Ned Spilsbury

>>> <AndrewWatt2001@aol.com> 04/11/03 09:04AM >>>

I seem to be in questioning mode ... or should that be "mood" :) .... today.

A couple of questions for the WG members on the lists. Well maybe not
a couple. :)

How do you see XForms in relation to Microsoft's InfoPath?

Direct competitors? Does XForms have the Web aspect to itself, i.e. without 
InfoPath competition?

Targetting different functionality or business processes?

Andrew Watt
Received on Monday, 14 April 2003 21:44:19 UTC

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