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

RE: XForms separation of "Presentation"

From: Mark Birbeck <Mark.Birbeck@x-port.net>
Date: Mon, 13 Oct 2003 16:50:47 +0100
Message-ID: <E3ED00A7C285EE408679DE2A26D1C7810148F7EC@S007.x-port.net>
To: 'Dharmesh Mistry' <dharmesh@edgeipk.com>
Cc: XForms@yahoogroups.com, www-forms@w3.org

Hi Dharmesh,

> Firstly I must say having subscribed it's great to such active debate
> on XForms. ;o)

> Next I have a question, in the W3C site it says ""The current design of
Web forms
> doesn't separate the purpose from the presentation of a form. "
> Does this mean the branding (look and feel) can't be sparated? (i.e. page
> has to be incorporated)
> Does this mean if I want verbose text for say a call centre, and short
text for
> PDA I have to have two seperate XForms or hard code conditions?

By 'purpose' it means something like "I want to collect the user's date of
birth, and how long they have lived at their current address". And by
'presentation' it means something like, "use a text box to get the user's
name", or "use a touch-tone phone to input a PIN number". An difference
between the two is that the 'purpose' of a form says nothing about how the
job is carried out.

Up until XForms the main way to write forms was such that the form and its
presentation were one and the same. You built a form by placing controls on
a blank page, and positioning them in such a way as to achieve some end. The
problem was though, that to target a new device, or new language you needed
to build a new form.

Of course, things weren't quite as bad as that - you could write scripts on
your server to bring together common pieces of the jigsaw, and you could
have translators that cope with different devices. And many people even
devised their own form definition languages - some of which fed into XForms
- so that they could have a common foundation for their device-specific

But there seemed to be as many solutions as there were programmers, which
was wasting a lot of time and energy. Ideally we needed a 'standard' way to
express the *purpose* of a form, and then leave some other process to
convert this into something that could be presented to a user.

So to be more specific, to achieve the functionality you describe (different
labels on different devices) you would not need multiple XForms forms, but
you would probably have multiple sources of instance data to provide
different labels (just as you would for multiple languages).

> I believe some of this flexibility is handled by XUL, will XUL and Xforms
> at some point, should they?

XUL relates more to platform-specific controls (windows, toolbars, and so
on) whereas XForms is platform independent. Of course, the idea of building
controls out of other controls is extremely desirable - one of the central
points of XUL - but the difference with XForms would be that if you built a
control from platform independent components, the end result would still be
a platform-independent component.



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

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Received on Monday, 13 October 2003 11:55:34 UTC

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