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Re: Will Internet Explorer support XForms

From: <AndrewWatt2001@aol.com>
Date: Thu, 9 Oct 2003 12:47:41 EDT
Message-ID: <47.340810d7.2cb6eb2d@aol.com>
To: www-forms@w3.org
Cc: XForms@yahoogroups.com
In a message dated 09/10/2003 16:20:48 GMT Daylight Time, 
MShupe@AnyDocSoftware.com writes:

> I am curious.
>  It seems to me that the value of XForms depends heavily on its being 
> supported by the browsers. However, I have not heard any indication that Microsoft 
> intends to support XForms in IE. They don't mention it anywhere on their 
> site. Furthermore, they are not complying with it in their InfoPath product which 
> suggests to me that XForms and InfoPath are competing.  That is, Microsoft 
> will probably have a vested interest in NOT supporting XForms. This concern 
> was further confirmed after reading about Microsoft's lack of interest in 
> fixing CSS bugs in IE. 
> At the same time, I don't find anybody expressing concern about this in any 
> of the XForms sites or forums.
>  Am I missing something?


My interpretation of Microsoft's strategy is that they are, by various means, 
tilting clients back from Web browsers towards paid-for clients. Office 
System 2003 programs can be used as front-ends to a range of server-based 

Similarly InfoPath (which does more than XForms per se does) is a paid-for 
client, even when used simply to fill in InfoPath forms. This raises a range of 
deployment issues for the casual XML-based form. My interpretation is that 
Microsoft wishes to position InfoPath as an enterprise forms tool - for example 
to replace custom applications - not as a general-purpose ubiquitous Web forms 
tool. In other words InfoPath forms are targetted at use in settings where one 
user regularly fills in one or more InfoPath forms. The inclusion of InfoPath 
only in Enterprise editions of Office System 2003 fits with that suggestion.

Bear in mind, also, that InfoPath 2003 is already here as an RTM product (at 
least for MSDN subscribers and some corporate customers, public release is 
21st October). The InfoPath (previously XDocs) project has, I understand, a long 
history and design decisions were made long before XForms had reached anything 
resembling a fully stable specification. So there was, "back then", no XForms 
worthy of the name on which to build the InfoPath product.

Another factor, in my mind anyway, is a lurking, nagging doubt about how 
secure XForms forms are. I asked that question on these lists many months ago and 
didn't receive a wholly satisfactory answer. XForms *may well* be secure. It's 
just that I would like to see a more compelling laying out of the evidence in 
support of that conclusion.

What will InfoPath 2005(?) be like? Will there be a free fill-form-only 
InfoPath 2005 client? If there is, then maybe Microsoft will adopt XForms but the 
underlying architecture of InfoPath is *very* different from XForms. An 
XForms-compliant Microsoft client would be a very different animal under the hood 
from InfoPath 2003. Alternatively Microsoft may leave InfoPath as an enterprise 
tool and produce a more-limited functionality tool for XForms. Or may leave the 
low-value space to others. There are many options.

As far as browser support of XForms is concerned then there are "plug ins" 
which others have mentioned in their replies.

Andrew Watt
Received on Thursday, 9 October 2003 12:47:56 UTC

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