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RE: IBM Position Statement on XForms and Web Forms 2.0

From: Francisco Monteiro <monterro2004@tiscali.co.uk>
Date: Wed, 30 Aug 2006 21:33:40 +0100
To: <www-forms@w3.org>
Message-ID: <013001c6cc73$94b19850$0500a8c0@computername>
Hello John,
Thanks for this, in my view I see XForms and WF2 co-existing but not XForms
being a server side technology. The work I am undertaking right now can be
viewed as an exercise in how this functionality could be beneficial. From
what I see many organisation will go about with the design of their own
client side frameworks and if and when the W3C come with something
acceptable they would accept it as standards. Ask why did XLink
specification "fail", the specification was very sound but it did not
capture clients imagination.
facileXForms - really AJAX at heart.


From: www-forms-request@w3.org [mailto:www-forms-request@w3.org] On Behalf
Of John Boyer
Sent: 30 August 2006 21:14
To: public-appformats@w3.org; www-forms@w3.org
Subject: Re: IBM Position Statement on XForms and Web Forms 2.0

Hi Raymond and Francisco, 

Please let me start by saying that nothing should be read into the timing of
the release of the IBM position statement.  The statement was formulated
over a many week period that included Ian Hickson in a lengthy thread of
discussion on the W3C chairs list.  The formulation of the statement also
included consultations with Steve Bratt and Chris Lilley, and it obviously
included internal consultations within IBM.  We had no knowledge of Ian's
pending vacation.  However, a few choice quotes from Ian on the chairs
thread are: 

"Web Forms 2.0 is an XML language" (August 18, 2006) 

"The first problem with shoe-horning XForms into HTML is that XForms is
based on XML, and HTML is not. We can't require an XML-based language"
(August 17, 2006) 

"I was not involved in the decision to take this [Web Forms 2.0] to the W3C;
indeed I unsuccessfully attempted to discourage it when I heard about it."
(August 18, 2006) 

"the WAF working group came to me and asked if they could publish it and
whether I would be the editor if they did so, a task that I was happy to
take on; I think Opera, one of the group's members, was the main proponent"
(August 17, 2006) 

There were similar contradictions on the technical side of that chairs
thread, such as claiming that Web Forms 2.0 works in IE with a plugin but
that XForms doesn't (but not giving XForms the benefit of a plugin).  Or
that XForms would be OK if it were *only* allowed to have input, button and
select tags, while simultaneously allowing WF2 to have whatever other tags
it needs to duplicate the functionality in XForms. 

Another mystifying claim to me is Raymond's assertion that we would break
backwards compatibility of XForms document by *adding* features that unified
the best of what Web Forms 2.0 has to offer into XForms.  How did you come
to that conclusion?  *Backwards* compatibility means that old document
continue to work in new processors, not that new documents created with a
*higher* version of the language will work in old processors?!? 

This is the kind of stuff that we need, as a W3C team, to stop doing.  WF2
has some features in it that we have been considering for the future of
XForms anyway because we really do want to smooth the migration path for
content.  WF2 also contains a lot of quite unnecessary divergences of
concept from XForms.  We need to get rid of those.  We really can't afford
to bifurcate HTML in ways that can never be made compatible.  We also need
to pull together and reexamine, without hyperbole, whether the team can come
up with a way to preserve the XML basis that has become the foundation of
HTML over the past six years. 

It will be necessary for all involved to not cling so tightly to positions
that there is no room for the compromise that's needed.  Remember,
perfection is the devil of excellence, and since we're already talking about
how various UAs will gracefully degrade on various kinds of content, it
seems viable to move all parties to a common ground on what constitutes
being "graceful enough".  This will involve focusing on the *main* use cases
as actually being more important than *edge* cases. 

In conclusion, you asked what you are supposed to make of the IBM position
statement.  Gosh, I really don't know why it is 'incomprehensible'.  It
seems to say: 

1) XForms has good features 
2) WF2 has good features but significantly overlaps XForms 
3) W3C team was supposed to require (in charter) the XForms and HTML groups
to address the WF2 content 
4) We strongly encourage the WF2 work to migrate to the XForms and HTML
groups as prominent features of their new charters.  We want these groups to
be compelled to solve the problem, and we want the interested members from
WAF to participate in that solution. 
5) We don't agree with the WF2 claim that XForms is for server-side and WF2
should be the on-the-wire standard. 
6) XForms implementations have already demonstrated its viability
7) XForms needs to do a better job going forward to profile for reduced
functionality clients and the on-the-glass authoring model 
8) Although easing implementation for browser vendors is one concern, the
web is about a much broader spectrum of web technologies that are important
to the whole consortium, so it is important to do our best to preserve the
XML basis for new features to help entice content toward well-formedness. 
9) There will be compromises needed from XForms and HTML as well as from
WF2, but the benefits to the future of the web will be worth the work. 

Please see my blog posting today for further context about this situation. 

And more importantly, let's get more comments and opinions, to'ing and
fro'ing, and acrimony and sympathy until we find the common ground that is
going to make the unification of XForms and WF2 a reality. 

John M. Boyer, Ph.D.
Senior Product Architect/Research Scientist
Co-Chair, W3C XForms Working Group
Workplace, Portal and Collaboration Software
IBM Victoria Software Lab
E-Mail: boyerj@ca.ibm.com  http://www.ibm.com/software/

Blog: http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/blogs/page/JohnBoyer

Received on Wednesday, 30 August 2006 20:39:07 UTC

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