Understanding XForms: Events and Actions

by Kurt Cagle

Summer's been fairly brutal throughout much of both the US and Canada the last few weeks, and transplanted American that I am I have to admit that I'm beginning to appreciate what 35°C really means and that it's a lot warmer than one might expect - a sweltering (for Victoria) 95° F. As Victoria is on an island that usually has most extremes of temperature moderated by sea breezes and is positioned on the largely leeward side of the island, it says altogether too much about the wave of heat that has had most of the continent in thrall ... and yes, I say this knowing full well that I'm about to receive all kinds of brickbats from those of you who've been toughing it out in 110° F (or a mind-boggling 43°C) temps that have hit much of the plains.

I gave a keynote address on SVG last week at the GeoWeb conference in Vancouver, and will be sharing my remarks from that shortly. Today, I'd like to give you the fifth installment about XForms, of six - this has been a remarkably well read series, which gives me a certain amount of hope for the specification. I should be making an announcement shortly concerning XForms in this space ...


2006-08-08 07:26:22

Years ago I was anticipating the advent of XForms and pushed it as a technology we should support at SilverStream. I saw it as a way to get away from the HTML form and its limitations. From what I know it was implemented at Novel, but really didn't gain much traction.

In a future blog or article I'd like to know what's going on in the XForms world. Like many XML technologies it seems to have been sucked up into the black hole of over engineered xml specifications that the XML community has trouble demonstrating. I'd love to hear more about where you think XForms is going and what it's usefull for. And it'd be refreshing on XML.com to see anything other than AJAX. I don't know who is in charge of XML.com, there was a change for the worse within the last year. With OWL, RDF, XMP, XForms, microformats, etc, there's so much to talk about on XML.com other than global warming, political blogs, and AJAX...and you and David P. seem like the last folks on the earth who understand this stuff.


Kurt Cagle
2006-08-08 08:31:37

My impression on XForms is that its been in a period of quiescence that seems to hit a lot of W3C standards - there's a period of about 3-4 years where the technology gets announced, then seems to disappear into the abyss. It takes about that long for critical mass to be achieved, and for the technology to really start taking off again, I believe, but as an evangelist for the technology it can be frustrating biding one's time.

XML.com is, like most technical news outlets, focused on where the programmers are, and as much as I'm not that happy about it either, most of that lately seems to be AJAX. The formal editorial staff (of which I'm not a part) tends to look at articles that they know about as well, and since most tend to be old hands at programming XML within imperative structures, this is what ends up getting commissioned as articles. The blogger group, such as myself or David P., don't have that restriction (or get the money, for what its worth), so most of the articles that we contribute tend to reflect personal biases as much as anything. Given that I tend to like outlier technology, that does give me a vehicle to discuss everything that I want, so letters like yours are important because it tells me when I'm hitting the mark and what other areas need to be discussed in greater detail.

Incidentally, I'm (slowly) starting up a new site specifically dedicated to XForms - http://www.xforms.org. There's not a lot there yet (and I'm keeping news about it fairly low key until I can get a critical mass of articles there) but I'm hoping to make it a clearinghouse specifically for XForms and related technologies.

As to the Semantic Web technology, I occasionally dip my toe into that domain, but find that it tends to be fairly esoteric for most readers to understand, one of the reasons that I wade carefully there. Sparql opens up some interesting venues , however, and I hope to devote some future posts to it.

Finally, about the "off-topic" blogs ... I can't speak for others, but the blog I write for O'Reilly is meant to cover XML programming but also, occasionally, the context in which the programming happens. I'm a programmer - I want to know the bigger picture issues sometimes about whether my job - or the market for my job - will be there next year. I try not to stray too often into that territory, as you are correct in saying that the focus here should be on XML, but I think both voices are important. (As an aside, my most recent "political" post actually gets into the nature of long tail social phenomenon, which I think is actually very relevant in the world of large scale distributed programming, which is increasingly what I'm seeing XML actually representing).

Anyway, thanks for the feedback. T'is useful and much appreciated.

-- Kurt Cagle

2006-10-16 06:31:20
2006-11-09 04:26:27
Great article, but hey where's the follow up?
".. a discussion which I'll defer to the next XForms column."
2007-06-15 15:44:44
Thanks for the article

2007-07-07 18:57:15
It was great reading this article excellent writing

2007-07-29 14:45:08
I learned a lot of info reading this article keep on this way
2008-01-28 09:23:21
Hi this is really fine read. Looking forward for more of these articles.
2008-02-13 08:20:54
Very informative.
Frane Milic
2008-02-29 23:59:11
i wannato make a wizard using xforms , for that i want to show a block of controls when i click on the button.

Can u plz help me out in this.
i ll be very thankful to u .