Archive for August, 2008

Xforms to the fore?

August 26, 2008

Modern executive carry a bag full of internet-ready devices, such as mobile phones, personal digital assistants and laptops and have become used to being able to access information any where, any time and now on almost any device.


Allowing users to input data from a variety of devices is a commendable aim. So much for the creditable objective; get the underlying standard wrong and the value of your application will be limited.


For a start, users will find it difficult to access applications across different devices – and once they have the application they may find it tricky to actually use.


Therefore, a framework for application user interfaces is essential. The bad news is that progress has been mixed.


The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) released the first version of XForms six years ago, a standard that was supposed to make it easier for individuals to interact with applications on the web through all devices.


But tinkering on the standard continues, with the third edition of XForms 1.0 published in October last year. Adoption of XForms by application developers has been slow, most notably with developers choosing to stay with existing forms support in HTML and Javascript.


Despite improvements in the standard, considerable issues remain – most notably XForms deployment usually relies on plug-ins, rather than being the browser default. For example, lack of support from Microsoft for the standard on the most popular browser Internet Explorer constrains mass adoption.


With each user needed to install the required plug-in and development work still continuing, XForms has developed too slowly.


Other options are being considered, notably the Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group (WHATWG) – a community of specialists that are working to create an updated version of HyperText Markup Language (HTML).


The independent group is looking at next generation internet languages from the perspective of web developers.


Do not, therefore, give up hope. Hopefully one of these standards will prevail. But for now better web application interaction across different devices should be the standard we all aim for.