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RE: XForms and Ajax

From: Mark Birbeck <mark.birbeck@x-port.net>
Date: Thu, 28 Apr 2005 12:32:17 +0100
Message-ID: <7FE34699-CD8C-44A9-A310-0591E550D9E7@S009>
To: "'Anne van Kesteren'" <fora@annevankesteren.nl>
Cc: <www-forms@w3.org>

Hi Anne,

Thanks for reading the blog, and for your comments.

> The huge advantage of XMLHttpRequest is of course that it 
> works today.

I have no problem with saying that XMLHttpRequest is both widely available,
and a useful workaround for the weaknesses of HTML forms. However, the tone
of most articles and blogs is that it represents some kind of paradigm
shift. The point of my blog was to show that it isn't, and more importantly,
to point out to people that a major motivation of XForms was to capture in
mark-up the kinds of things that we do every day in script -- the patterns
that are present in the XMLHttpRequest examples.

To come at it from a different angle for a moment -- the fuss about
XMLHttpRequest is because people are only just starting to realise that
there is a problem to be solved; the people who kicked off the XForms work
realised years ago that there was a problem that needed a resolution, and
came up with one.

> If XForms was natively implemented among XHTML in some IE 
> version some people might use it ...

I don't believe that is the barrier to take-up -- although this statement
gets repeated so often that it has acquired the status of truth. People use
plug-ins if they serve a useful purpose, and if they don't, well...they
don't. There was a time when you had to write applications that targeted the
3.2 browsers. Yet now everyone talks about using an advanced feature like
XMLHttpRequest as if we've always had it!

Anyway, if this isn't the barrier to take up, what is?

One of the major arguments *for* using XForms is that it provides a very
convenient and straightforward way of getting control over web-services --
searching Google and Amazon, looking up the weather, finding people's
wish-lists, checking post-codes, and so on. But the truth is that many
companies haven't yet organised their applications around web-services.

Why haven't they done that? Because they couldn't get control of them! If
you use one of the many tools around that generates code that handles
web-services, you often end up locked in -- the IDE will usually run some
sort of wizard that generates code for the server, along with forms to
manage it. So you still end up with the UI and data mixed up.

It's a vicious circle -- XForms is an ideal way to get control of web
services, but no-one is *really* using web services because they're
difficult to get control of. But whilst it's a little frustrating from the
stand-point of XForms up-take, the fact that making use of web-services is
such a desirable goal means that there is no doubt XForms will become
increasingly popular.

(And you certainly shouldn't assume that *no-one* is using XForms; there are
a significant number of what you might call 'early adopters', both large and
small, who are getting significant benefit from using XForms.)

I would say that anyone building portals and intranets -- applications that
pull data from a number of sources -- will get immediate benefit now from
XForms if they put in the effort to switch over. Data can then be pulled
from a number of different sources by the client, rather than the server.
Imagine, for example, that you have one hundred users, each able to select
from 10 or so data feeds. If you push to the client the responsibility for
getting the data, then strain is taken off your servers. But building
complex applications like that with XMLHttpRequest is very difficult -- use
XForms to capture the logic and you'll find the whole thing pretty

There was an interesting article on this topic last year:


> ... (a lot of companies have trouble generating well-formed XML).

I don't see that. If anything, XML is probably used more than it needs to be

> However, it is not and it will probably take a very long time before it
> is implemented.

Obviously I disagree, but since this is so much a matter of opinion I won't
set off a ping-pong match!



Mark Birbeck
x-port.net Ltd.

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

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Received on Thursday, 28 April 2005 11:32:39 UTC

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