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XForms Editor Review

From: Richard Braman <rbraman@bramantax.com>
Date: Mon, 27 Feb 2006 19:03:42 -0500
To: <www-forms@w3.org>
Message-ID: <008201c63bfa$73300ef0$3201a8c0@bramantax.com>
I don't know about you guys, but my eyes are cross from squinting into
my current Xforms editor or worse yet, the grid view.  I have downloaded
XPress (which was a chore, the activation key page was 500 broken, but
the SQL insert gave me the key) and played around with it, but I
couldn't;t get a good feel for it. 
Here is my review:
- I imported an instance from a file, all went well there
- I drew some various controls on the canvas, no problems.  IN fact it
had some features that would be good for me the ability to align the
controls, make them the same width, etc.
I did like the absolute positioning using XHTML span, as I use absolute
positioning in my taXforms project, (using div tags though) 
- I tried to do add a bind, this is where the functionality was lacking,
the 'add bind" pulls up a dialog box asking for id, node set, calculate,
relevance, and required.  The nodeset has a button to select an element
in the instance to bind to.  But the tree control it pulls up doesn't;t
let you select the node you want, it simply tells you the path and you
have to cancel out and type the path in.  The calculate box has a
control that launches an expression builder, which lacks one obvious
feature, the ability to select a node in a instance as part of your
XPath expression.
-One you have to set up the bind you have to go back to the control and
type in the bind id, you should be able to do that from a tree, or
better yet from the bind dialog, which should automatically set the
control to output if there is a calculate function.
- You can also add actions/events to the control which was nice, but
again you have to type in the ref path or bind from memory, you cannot
select it from a tree.
-I tried to open some Xforms from Chiba/Orbeon, no go! Throws an error
Type Mismatch?  Even the hello world file.  I think it only opens files
created by it
-You can view the source , but cannot edit from source.  This wasn't the
end of the world.
- Xplayer is used as the viewer.
I also trief XFormation from Focus software,  I haven't dealved into it,
as much, but at first glance it isn't mature.
I am thinking about writing an editor for my Xforms based tax
forms(taXforms).  Ultimately the goal of the project is to put XForms
technology in the hands of CPAs , Enrolled Agents, and tax attorneys,
who will develop the forms.  These people aren't hardcore XML
programmers, and will need a WSIWIG tool to do their job with minimal
fuss.  They can all program spreadhseets, so I do not forsee XPath
formulas being a huge problem. I would like to extend the features of
XPress so that the editor behaves like it should , keep the code open
source so that the editor would be customized for my use case, and
anyone elses for that mater.
I did some more research and found a draft spec for an Xforms editor  on
the Isreali W3C web site.  
It seems as though XPress may have been based off of it.    
I think the major thing I have seen in my last couple of months learning
Xforms, is that many of the Forms implementations differ in what they
support, and in some cases how they do things.  For example Orebon
supports.  I havn;t seen alot fo compatability.
 Reconciling those differences, so that Tax Code is portable is another
one of my goals.  

Richard Braman
561.748.4002 (voice) 

http://www.taxcodesoftware.org <http://www.taxcodesoftware.org/> 
Free Open Source Tax Software

Received on Tuesday, 28 February 2006 00:17:10 GMT

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