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Re: About the Web Forms 2 proposal

From: Doug Schepers <doug.schepers@vectoreal.com>
Date: Sun, 29 Apr 2007 00:03:34 -0400
Message-ID: <46341916.20406@vectoreal.com>
To: public-html@w3.org


I'm not going to argue for or against either side here, but I would like 
to make some observations.

John Boyer wrote:
> And the use cases you listed here (
> http://esw.w3.org/topic/HTML/FormsUseCases) are pretty trivial.

On the one hand, I agree that this list isn't really comprehensive. 
When you consider some many Web applications use hoop-jumping libraries 
to supply multiple dialogs and numerous inputs, there is clearly a 
desire to have more complex forms than are addressed by this list of use 

On the other hand, for many purposes, you can break complex "forms" down 
into handy bite-sized portions.  I just did my taxes using TurboTax; tax 
forms aren't what most people would call a breeze, but they did a good 
job (for the most part) at breaking it down into a wizardly set of 
steps.  They did fall down on breaking up my home office across 2 
subsequent addresses in combination with other business expenses (which 
was done as a hidden "worksheet"), and maybe a single, more cohesive 
form with declarative interconnections could have addressed that... I 
don't know.  I do think that in this case, I was glad it was broken down 
into steps, which was less overwhelming.

But that's because I don't do this every day... I want a predigested 
presentation so I don't have to learn about tax codes and other such 
fascinating matters.  For users who would be filling in the same complex 
form daily, and who don't want their hands held, using a wizard is often 
infuriatingly slow and considerably less powerful than they would want.

In either case, tax forms are complex, and they are definitely something 
people want to do on the Web (as evidenced by the tens or hundreds of 
millions of people who filed that way this year).  I've had a little 
experience in making web apps for the financial planning and mortgage 
industries (just enough to know I don't want to work in the financial 
planning or mortgage industries), and the use cases there range from the 
very simple (calculators and pretty charts) to the very complex.

> And yes people in many verticals (government, financial, insurance, 
> healthcare, etc.) do in fact want to have a more usable forms technology, 
> and their requirements really are more complex than the use cases you are 
> looking at.

I think we should also consider PDF.  I'm increasingly seeing PDF forms 
being delivered on the Web which you can fill out and save the current 
state.  I'm not sure why some of these forms aren't being done in HTML 
(maybe the save-state? maybe they need signed-certificate technology?) 
but there a huge industry devoted to just such forms, and they aren't 
using HTML for that.  That doesn't seem to be covered in the forms use 
cases list.

It may be that we decide it's out of scope for this group, but it should 
be considered.

Received on Sunday, 29 April 2007 04:03:42 UTC

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