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Comparison of XForms-Tiny and WF2

From: Dave Raggett <dsr@w3.org>
Date: Thu, 4 Jan 2007 13:20:40 +0000 (GMT)
To: www-forms@w3.org
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.64.0701041318300.5320@holly>

Dean Jackson suggested I write up a brief comparison of XForms-Tiny 
and WebForms 2.0. You can find this on the Forms wiki at:

       http://www.w3.org/MarkUp/Forms/wiki/XForms-Tiny

WF2 and XForms-Tiny both involve incremental extensions to HTML 
forms as defined in HTML4 and DOM2 HTML. XForms-Tiny includes a much 
richer range of features that greatly reduce the need for page 
specific scripting compared with WF2. This will effect the relative 
cost of developing form-based applications with the two proposals 
since Web page scripts are prone to bugs and these are expensive to 
iron out. XForms-Tiny is also much easier when it comes to repeated 
groups of controls, avoiding WF2's tight coupling to HTML tables. 
This is important for device independent markup and the experience 
offered to users on mobile devices.

XForms-Tiny would benefit from inclusion of a number of WF2 
features, for instance, relaxation of the need to enclose fields 
within a form element, the autocompletion hint, and a number of 
other improvements to HTML forms, including autofocus, inputmode, 
and type="time" for 12 or 24 hour time of day values. An open 
question is whether the WF2 form attribute can be made to work on 
existing browsers or whether it necessitates native implementation 
support. WF2's output element also raises challenges for 
implementation on existing browsers. These issues will be 
investigated experimentally.

The rich declarative features of XForms-Tiny lend themselves to 
exporting the XForms model and constraints for use in server-side 
data validation. In principle, XForms-Tiny could also be used to 
submit structured form data as XML, although this has not been 
implemented as yet.

At the time of writing Web Forms 2 is natively supported by only one 
browser Opera 9, but an implementation is said to be underway for 
Firefox. An experimental JavaScript library is available for adding 
WebForms 2 support to IE, but not for other browsers.

XForms-Tiny works on a much wider range of browsers via a 
cross-browser JavaScript library: Internet Explorer 6 and 7, Firefox 
1.5, Firefox 2, Galeon 2.01, Opera 9, Konqueror 3.5, Safari, Opera 
Mobile 8.6 and NetFront 3.4, although the library has yet to be 
tuned to improve the user experience on small displays for repeating 
groups of fields. The compressed library can be delivered as a 
6KByte file.

I strongly recommend you try out the examples on the XForms-Tiny testbed:

    http://www.w3.org/2006/11/XForms-Tiny/

The WebForms 2.0 submission can be found at:

    http://www.w3.org/TR/web-forms-2/

Essentially, I see this as an opportunity for HTML to replace
spreadsheets, which are superficially easy to start with, but
rapidly become costly to maintain.

p.s. I am also working on an open source cross-browser wysiwyg 
editor for forms that works within the browser without the need for 
plugins, and which will further simplify the task of creating and 
maintaining HTML forms based applications. This uses the DOM and 
avoids the interoperability problems with today's designMode-based 
solutions.

  Dave Raggett <dsr@w3.org> http://www.w3.org/People/Raggett
Received on Thursday, 4 January 2007 13:20:58 GMT

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