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Re: History 101 (Also maintainability)

From: <AndrewWatt2001@aol.com>
Date: Tue, 15 Apr 2003 02:46:58 EDT
Message-ID: <cc.1b79d0f7.2bcd04e2@aol.com>
To: www-forms@w3.org, xforms@yahoogroups.com
CC: MDubinko@cardiff.com
In a message dated 15/04/2003 00:20:47 GMT Daylight Time, 
MDubinko@cardiff.com writes:


> XForms consists of a cleaned-up, simplified version of all the widespread
> hacks that people were already doing with forms, and it's taking off like
> wildfire.

Micah,

As you know from our discussions on XML-Dev I too see the XML-enabled dynamic 
forms space as a very important one.

However, I am not sure that I would go quite as far as using the term 
"wildfire" yet with respect to XForms. Which criteria or indicators do you 
think best support your suggestion?

> 
> XForms has little, if any, "new science". It's all about helping people 
> find
> a better way than the reams of unmaintainable JavaScript and Perl scripts
> currently in use.

Again, I don't want to put a dampener on your enthusiasm but we need to look 
in a dispassionate way at how maintainable XForms (or, less relevent to this 
list InfoPath) forms will be.

I raised the issue on both XForms lists a few weeks back having seen how, as 
an XForms-containing documents becomes bigger, there is an increasing number 
of bindings going on. Perhaps I am caricaturing here but a bind is, in a 
limited sense, a little like having Basic code littered with GOTO statements. 
Remember those and the fun they could cause during program maintainance? :) 
[Of course I realise the limitations of that analogy.]

The few responses seemed to indicate a similar latent concern about 
maintainability, if my memory serves me correctly. I noticed that there were 
remarkably few responses to my post that put forward the high maintainability 
of XForms-containing documents. You have another opportunity here. :)

If you believe that XForms-containing documents are intrinsically more 
maintainable let's discuss how best that is achieved. If  the XForms 
community can identify good coding practices for XForms-containing documents 
at this very early stage then surely we all benefit in the long run.

There are several reasons which lead me to suggest that we may not yet have 
fully uncovered the maintainance problems caused in XForms:
1. The relatively small numbers of forms
2. The very small (in my estimate) number of "real-world" forms
3. The use of XForms hitherto mostly in one language - XHTML (XSL-FO is also 
possible in X-Smiles)
4. The lack of forms written 6 months ago (with time to forget what it was 
about)
5. The lack of form written 6 months ago **by somebody else** who **hadn't 
documented their code**

All those factors likely lead us to currently underestimate the difficulties 
of maintaining XForms code. Don't you agree?

Andrew Watt
Received on Tuesday, 15 April 2003 02:47:12 GMT

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