W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-forms@w3.org > October 2005

RE: AJAX vs. Xforms

From: Mark Birbeck <mark.birbeck@x-port.net>
Date: Mon, 31 Oct 2005 11:54:07 -0000
Message-ID: <7FAC8063-A946-4D01-8EAD-0A545AC4E03A@s15.mail.x-port.net>
To: "'Elliotte Harold'" <elharo@metalab.unc.edu>
Cc: <www-forms@w3.org>


Blimey...knowing how knowledgeable you are on so many subjects I'm surprised
to see you reduced to making such assertions based on an obvious lack of

Don't get me wrong, I don't blame you--it's people like you who will make
XForms happen, when you start writing about it, demonstrating it, using it
for those little applications you want to write to keep track of your
expenses and decide Python or VB is just too much like hard work. But you
are obviously not at that stage yet, and I see it as my job to get the
software, demos, articles, and so on to such point that you will be.

But what bugs me about your mail is that you don't feel XForms is ready for
primetime use. Let's be specific; that take-up may be slow or fast, that
there may be this or that issue with evangelising, that examples may be
lacking, or the spec too difficult--all of those things I'd happily discuss.
But to say that it's simply "not ready"...that's bonkers!
So you will understand if my frustration at the fact we haven't won over
people like yourself is far, far overshadowed by the fact that you don't
mind making assertions that are either unfounded or out of date. Speaking
for my company, our processor is a 100% implementation of XForms 1.0 and is
not 'flakey'. It is being used in a number of multinational companies, in
situations such as managing remote devices (such as CCTV cameras and petrol
pumps), in remote working situations (such as CRM), in mortgage application
systems, risk management systems, and more. I have personally demonstrated
elaborate XForms at conferences (and you will recall that I was eager to do
demonstrations at SD Best Practices session on AJAX and XForms that you
kindly asked me to speak at, but you felt it would be best not to).

(And that is just formsPlayer I am talking about; I know also that plenty of
the other processors are solid enough to run real applications.)

Anyway, don't worry, I'm not asking for any favours--this is not the usual
"please Elliotte, you're not helping us with such emails, please go tell
everyone how great XForms is" email. I'm not asking for favours because
XForms will stand or fall on its own merits, and your reputation in matters
technical is such that if you believe it is a good technology, I know you
will tell people so.

So for me, you can say what you like about XForms, and you are perfectly
entitled to criticise implementations if you see fit--but if you do so on
such flimsy assertions, then I'm also entitled to reply that you are talking
out of your hat.



Mark Birbeck
x-port.net Ltd.

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

Download our XForms processor from

-----Original Message-----
From: www-forms-request@w3.org [mailto:www-forms-request@w3.org] On Behalf
Of Elliotte Harold
Sent: 31 October 2005 07:14
To: Mark Birbeck
Cc: 'Rafael Benito'; www-forms@w3.org
Subject: Re: AJAX vs. Xforms

Mark Birbeck wrote:
> Hi Rafael,
> I think the big difference with the Ajax 'community' is that they 
> produce lots of examples, run Wikis that explain things, and so on. I 
> don't believe XForms is that difficult, but I think new users do need 
> orienting, yet the XForms 'community' has been pretty bad at providing 
> the support needed. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that this is one of 
> the worst 'communities' I have seen--take a look at things like SVG 
> and Python and you'll see primers, samples, Wikis, and all sorts.

Perhaps true but mostly irrelevant. There's only one difference that 
matters: AJAX works in today's browsers and XForms doesn't. Game. Set. 

If and when XForms works in the browsers, then XForms development will 
become practical and people will start using it. This isn't a binary 
proposition. The more browsers XForms works in, and the better it works, 
the more XForms will be used. I'm not sure whether it will be a linear 
takeup or more of a hockey stick curve; but I do believe it will happen 
eventually. It just isn't happening very fast now.

Bad and nonexistent implementations don't just account for the limited 
use of XForms in the real world. They account for the paucity of 
documentation and examples. I've considered writing about XForms but 
I've given up because the implementations are too poor to make it 
worthwhile. When I've talked about XForms at conferences, the demos I've 
been able to do have been so flaky and unreliable that they've convinced 
everyone to wait for next year.

XForms is a classic example of the problems of writing a spec, solid as 
it may be, in advance of actual implementation.

?Elliotte Rusty Harold  elharo@metalab.unc.edu
XML in a Nutshell 3rd Edition Just Published!
Received on Monday, 31 October 2005 11:54:36 UTC

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