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

RE: XForms - "Suspend and resume support"

From: John Boyer <JBoyer@PureEdge.com>
Date: Mon, 5 May 2003 14:29:08 -0700
Message-ID: <7874BFCCD289A645B5CE3935769F0B52452DB2@tigger.pureedge.com>
To: <AndrewWatt2001@aol.com>, <steven.pemberton@cwi.nl>
Cc: <www-forms@w3.org>, <xforms@yahoogroups.com>
Hi Andrew,
I like XForms because of how it effectively uses declarative programming. But I don't underestimate how that can cause difficulty for non-XML-geeks. I have seen similar difficulties with SVG where people coming from JavaScript backgrounds just don't "get" SVG's declarative animation.
A bit of history: Back in 1994-95, I added the first draft of a computation engine to the predecessor language of XFDL called UFDL.  By 1996, I had implemented a full declarative computation system for UFDL.  Little did I know that one Steven Pemberton was simultaneously extolling the virtues of declarative computations for HTML forms.  In 1997-98, I took part in converting UFDL to an XML syntax called XFDL, the first XML syntax to have a declarative computation language.
During all of this time, certainly it is true that *most* people were non-XML-geeks.  Yet from that time forward to today, the declarative computation system has remained one of the most simplifying and well-appreciated features of XFDL.  Literally everyone who uses it marvels at the ease with which sophisticated forms can be created.  Any time something changes, all related values update automatically, yet the form author did not have to write code to cause such updates for each input element.
A similar increase of power will soon be in the hands of XForms authors.  I am glad you like it (as do I), but I think you need to present more convincing evidence that there will difficulty for non-XML-geeks, or in fact that there will be anything but glee from those who currently create HTML forms (toy forms notwithstanding).  Based on my years of experience with form authors' reactions to declarative computations in XFDL, I believe that such evidence will be quite hard to come by.  Perhaps the comparison to SVG is not as analogous as one might at first believe.  Perhaps a more reasonable comparison would be to consider historically what happened to business productivity starting in the early 80's when electronic spreadsheets were introduced.  Like any technology, it took a few years to become ubiquitous, but spreadsheets are second only to the word processor on the list of killer apps.
John Boyer, Ph.D.
Senior Product Architect and Research Scientist
PureEdge Solutions Inc.
Received on Monday, 5 May 2003 17:29:16 UTC

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