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Re: Is or isn't scripting needed, was RE: XForms vs. Web Forms

From: Robin Berjon <robin.berjon@expway.fr>
Date: Thu, 17 Mar 2005 00:24:03 +0100
Message-ID: <4238C013.7070409@expway.fr>
To: "Eric S. Fisher" <efisher@fsystems.com>
Cc: "www-forms@w3.org" <www-forms@w3.org>

Eric S. Fisher wrote:
> But I have to ask the question: Isn't a well-designed, open-source 
> plug-in  an acceptable method for providing browser functionality for 
> technologies  not available when the browser was released?

I have yet to see a well-designed open source plugin for any of the new 
W3C formats. In my experience the reason they don't exist is that they 
are too hard to implement.

Also we'd have to have a well-designed plugin API. At this point in 
time, I think it's safe to say they all suck one way or another.

> Second, the more I follow this discussion, the more confused I get.  
> WF2  is supposed to be backward compatible, yet to use its full 
> functionality,  you need a new browser or yet another plug-in?  How is 
> that preferable to  a clean, fresh XForms implementation?  Especially 
> considering that any  "new browser" will always support the old code 
> anyway?

I think the intended difference is implementation complexity. You can 
send an XHTML+XForms to some obsolete piece of crap like IE6 (using the 
wrong media type, but it doesn't matter) but implementing XForms in 
Ecmascript is going to be painful (especially given how buggy IE's 
implementation of Ecmascript is). On the other hand I think one could 
get 80%ish compliance (or perhaps in fact more) with WF2 by hacking 
through a rainy week-end.

> And what use is it to be able to display a form and not have the  
> client-side validation work properly?  If you can't be sure a form  
> submission will come in with the same level of validation every time, 
> you  then must code your server side either to test for the presence of 
> the  validation facilities in the browser (more code) or not trust the 
> client  side validations and repeat them at the server side (more code, 
> but  required anyway if the above test fails).

You can never trust client-side validation.

> I'm sorry, but the more I hear about WF2 the less I like it.

Have you read it? I remember seeing an early draft back when XForms was 
being voted on and not thinking much good about it, but in its current 
state I find that it is a high-quality specification that does a large 
part of what people want. It doesn't do enough for my needs and tastes 
(it makes simple things simple but I'm not yet convinced that it helps a 
lot for hard things, though I haven't thought enough about it), but it's 
a clear improvement on HTML 4 Forms.

I think a lot of WGs are finding out about "Version One Syndrome" the 
hard way, and the fact that there is push-back on XForms from some 
implementers is no exception. But I'm starting to get sick and tired of 
seeing good people that share the same fundamental goals and good 
intentions waste time bickering about competing specs while the RAND and 
proprietary scourge takes over the world, or prepares to.

We've got on one side XForms, which is cool, good in many ways, but that 
a non-neglible part of our community rejects and on the other WF2 which 
has fewer features but has support from said non-negligible part of this 
one same community. Can't we just figure out a way in which both cohabit 
in the same space and send everyone to the pub to celebrate (and Ian can 
have a cranberry juice if he doesn't want beer)? Isn't there a way that 
WF2 and HTML Forms could be expressed conceptually as a layer atop 
XForms (say with (s)XBL or something) and through convergence, 
eventually reach a step where both technologies become close to the 
point of being the same one (several years down the line)? I'm 
handwaving but I'm entirely convinced that there's a way there. If you 
consider yourself to be on one of the "sides" and the simple thought of 
what's above makes you cringe, then I'm probably right :)

I thought the CSS/XSL split up would have given us all a chance to 
reflect on the uselessness of duplication, but apparently not.

To me the way that the WHAT WG was announced felt like backstabbing but 
I've found them afterwards to play fair with W3C and to have produced at 
least one quality specification so let's forget about all that. What we 
need now is mindshare, not a kindergarden for bright minds.

-- 
Robin Berjon
   Research Scientist
   Expway, http://expway.com/
Received on Wednesday, 16 March 2005 23:24:05 GMT

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