W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-forms@w3.org > July 2003

RE: XForms support in the browser

From: Mark Birbeck <Mark.Birbeck@x-port.net>
Date: Tue, 22 Jul 2003 12:51:43 +0100
Message-ID: <E3ED00A7C285EE408679DE2A26D1C7810148F624@S007.x-port.net>
To: "'Jane Roberts'" <jane.roberts@toplev.com>
Cc: "'www-forms@w3.org'" <www-forms@w3.org>


> There's been some discussion in the past about browser support for xForms.
> For example should Microsoft build support for it into IE7?
> And what about other browsers?
> If anyone has any views I'd welcome a discussion here . . .

Interesting questions, all of them!

Whilst it goes without saying that it's not my position to say whether
Microsoft (or Mozilla and Opera, for that matter) will ever support XForms,
I think it's worth saying "don't hold your breath". I'll explain why.

On just about every W3C list you will find much the same comments that you
have made: "Will IE/Mozilla/Opera ever support
SVG/XLink/VoiceML/MathML/XForms/SMIL/XHTML2?" My view is that it is almost
impossible for each browser to keep growing to support these standards - not
only are the number of standards growing, but each standard is continually
updated. Despite this, everyone seems to want the so-called "thin client" to
get fatter and fatter!

I would suggest that the future of these standards is in plug-ins to augment
the browser. For example, there are already two good quality plug-ins for IE
that handle MathML, and two or three that deal with SVG. In addition, our
XForms plug-in for IE recently became one of the first processors to fully
implement the XForms standard, and I know of at least one more IE plug-in
that is being worked on by another company.

So, whilst I'm not saying that Microsoft *won't* support XForms in the
future, I wouldn't put my money on it. Who is to say which of the many
standards that IE currently doesn't support, will be implemented next? Far
more people have been clamouring for VML to be dumped in favour of SVG over
the years - to no avail.

But if we're realistic, the only way for the browser to go in the long term
is smaller, not bigger! Personally, I think the browser should be a simple
piece of software that handles navigation, user's favourites, certificates,
and so on. The real work of 'understanding' the tags in specific ways for
particular languages should then be delegated to plug-ins; a nuclear
physicist might have a different MathML plug-in to me; an architect may have
a different SVG plug-in to you; and a call-centre operator may have a
different XForms plug-in to both of us.

Of course, the architecture for adding plug-ins is pretty primitive at the
moment, and non-standard. And the plug-ins generally don't communicate very
well with each other either. But that wouldn't take much to fix.

And fixing that is going to be a far quicker solution that waiting for every
browser to support every standard. I can guarantee you will be waiting for



Mark Birbeck
Co-author Professional XML and
Professional XML Meta Data,
both by Wrox Press

Download our XForms processor for IE 6
from http://www.FormsPlayer.com/

Managing Director
x-port.net Ltd.
4 Pear Tree Court

E: Mark.Birbeck@x-port.net
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T: +44 (20) 7689 9232
Received on Tuesday, 22 July 2003 07:55:02 UTC

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