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XForms may change the world ... or not. (Interesting article)

From: Mark Birbeck <mark.birbeck@x-port.net>
Date: Thu, 18 Nov 2004 13:59:40 -0000
To: <www-forms@w3.org>, <formsPlayer@yahoogroups.com>
Message-ID: <00aa01c4cd76$dc864ac0$0e01a8c0@W100>

Dear all,

A recent article on Infoconomy [1] takes an interesting look at XForms'
potential, although it does not come down forcefully on one side or another
about whether XForms will be a success or not.

The author, Phil Jones, examines two different spaces that XForms could be
used in -- traditional form solutions, and 'rich client' (or 'web')
applications -- and suggests that at least the first will be tough-going
given the competition in that space:

  Adobe's forms products, for instance, offer an electronic upgrade
  path for organisations that use the company's design products to
  generate paper forms, and can now exploit the near-ubiquitous Adobe
  Acrobat Reader to distribute forms to PCs users, and even some
  handheld computers. 

  InfoPath, of course, has the advantage of being bundled with the
  professional edition of Microsoft's strategic personal productivity
  suite, and is designed to support the company's preferred back-office
  integration tools, SharePoint and BizTalk.

Whilst this is obviously true, it has to also be said that the pressure on
organisations like Microsoft is to make back-end servers increasingly
web-service based, which therefore increases flexibility in the choice of
client software; there are already people using XForms to manage parts of
Microsoft's Content Management Server, for example.

But insofar as XForms is about building 'rich-client' applications, the
author presents a more positive picture, developing a theme supported by
both myself, and Bill Trippe:

  In cases like this, says Birbeck, XForms is actually blurring the
  distinction between distributing new forms and delivering new
  applications. It is this capability, rather than simply the ability
  to be a better forms management environment than HTML, which is
  likely to be XForms' key differentiator in its battle with proprietary
  products from Adobe and Microsoft. 

  Certainly, according to Trippe, XForms' ability to integrate closely
  with other XML standards and parallel developments in the genesis of
  XHTML (the XML-friendly successor to the HTML browser language) "are
  combining to create a new generation of browser that brings a lot more
  computational force to the browser itself".

The article ends with the notion that recent public announcements by large
vendors may just help XForms in the form solution space, too:

  Now, however, as XForms gains momentum and other corporate giants
  such as IBM and Novell begin to put their weight behind this new
  consortium, it is quite possible that it will be the standards-based
  version of this vision that proves to be the most attractive.

NOTE: The comment above also appears on my blog about building internet
applications [2].



[1] On form?, by Phil Jones, Infoconomy, November 14th, 2004
    (Sign-up needed, but free article.)

[2] Internet Applications

Mark Birbeck
x-port.net Ltd.

e: Mark.Birbeck@x-port.net
t: +44 (0) 20 7689 9232
w: http://www.formsPlayer.com/

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Received on Thursday, 18 November 2004 13:59:56 UTC

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