W3C Advances XForms 1.0

Nearly 10 years after the introduction of HTML forms revolutionized
transactions on the Internet, a new specification is set to reshape the
nature of Web-based forms.

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)
Tuesday released XForms 1.0 as a
Candidate Recommendation, signifying the specification is stable and ready
for implementation as a standard.

XForms is seen as the foundation for next-generation Web-based forms, using
XML to make it possible to write forms in a number of markup languages and
deliver them to diverse devices, from PDAs to cell phones and screen
readers, without having to rewrite the forms. The specification achieves
this by giving authors the ability to distinguish the descriptions of the
purpose of the form from the presentation of the form and how the results
are written in XML.

“W3C’s XForms allow authors to use their choice of markup language —
XHTML, SVG, XML — with minimal scripting and maximum usability,” said
Steven Pemberton, co-chair of the W3C XForms Working Group. “The XForms
Working Group has provided a model that makes it easy for implementers to
develop and reuse form components, delivering functionality to users and
devices previously not possible.”


Dr. Bob Sutor, director of IBM’s Web Services Strategy, added, “Why has the
Web succeeded? It’s been successful because people knew that the underlying
technology was standardized in an open way. HTML was an important tool in
connecting people to the information they needed and we learned important
lessons about avoiding company-specific extensions. Now XForms extends the
power of XML to further enhance how companies and individuals do business
on the Web. XForms has a great opportunity to be the standard, open,
non-proprietary technology that will help people access information online
on any device–and do everything from shopping and banking to checking
their e-mail or calendar.”

Making XML the core of XForms brings a number of advantages to the new
specification, according to the W3C. For instance, data received from an
XForm is already strongly typed, well-formed, easy to validate and process,
speeding up form filling by reducing the need for round trips to the server
for validation. It also allows XForms to reuse and update XML Schemas,
allowing a form to remain useful and functional even when the Schema
changes. Also, using XML 1.0 for the instance data (description of the
results) means that the data can be easily internationalized.


Additionally, the W3C said that by defining XML-based declarative event
handlers that cover common use cases, the majority of XForms documents can
be statically analyzed, reducing the need for imperative scripts for event
handlers.

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