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RE: [XForms] Re: Will Internet Explorer support XForms

From: Mark Seaborne <MSeaborne@origoservices.com>
Date: Fri, 10 Oct 2003 10:14:36 +0100
Message-ID: <DC65AE678B89004B9CCB202E19482CC73BBBDE@mail.origoservices.local>
To: <www-forms@w3.org>
I think whatever the differences in functionality are between InfoPath and XForms, for many organisations it all boils down to who owns the underlying technology. The industry I work for (UK Life Insurance) already has its own forms markup language widely deployed, using both client rendering software specific to the language, and server-side transforms to HTML. This is working today, and has been for several years. We operate in a world where a form may be deployed in many different ways, and by organisations other than the form originator. Such an inter-organisational infrastructure is only viable if every one adopts the same underlying forms technology. We are not in a situation where everyone is happy to buy the same proprietary solution from one vendor, so the only option is to go with an open (ie not owned by one implementer) standard implemented by a range of vendors. In the absence of XForms, we came up with our own standard. Now that XForms is viable alternative we will start moving to that. 
XForms is only an option because it is an open standard, InfoPath, and other competing forms technologies, are not because they are proprietary. It really is that simple. The Industry requires a high level of interoperability without many hundreds of companies of all shapes and sizes all having to buy from the same vendor. Clearly if  XForms is not implemented interoperably then it will fail. However, I think those who are starting to bring XForms products to market have grasped the fundamental value of the technology as an open standard, and I am confident that lack of interoperability will not be a big problem. 
Getting back to the browser issue; there is clearly a need to deliver XForms to the client via a web browser. If the browser implementers do not meet this need themselves, then others will, and indeed have already been doing so for some time. 
All the best
Mark Seaborne
Origo Services Ltd

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-----Original Message-----
From: Francisco Monteiro [mailto:francisco.monteiro01@ntlworld.com]
Sent: 10 October 2003 08:51
To: XForms@yahoogroups.com; www-forms@w3.org
Cc: Mark.Birbeck@x-port.net
Subject: RE: [XForms] Re: Will Internet Explorer support XForms

Hello Andrew

You mention this InfoPath (which does more than XForms per se does)


I do not believe the above.

My company evaluated InfoPath and XForms (FormsPlayer) with a view of providing the Inland Revenue Self Assessment tax return.

XForms won hands down. We have a very good demo showing XForms in it gory.

Everybody knows providing any forms which deals with tax issues is complicated, granted that InfoPath has a good IDE but in our situation we use 'reflection' on the schema and build 80% of the UI dynamic, it could be 100% but laws of ergonomics and 'real estate' will never make this achievable.


The beauty about XForms is the simplicity of its model bindings, a quite readable specification and FormsPlayer.


Kind Regards


Francisco Monteiro


Facile Technology Ltd.


From: AndrewWatt2001@aol.com [mailto:AndrewWatt2001@aol.com] 
Sent: 09 October 2003 17:48
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 applications.

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 

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Received on Friday, 10 October 2003 05:17:45 UTC

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