Posts Tagged ‘xForms’

Endless options mean web development does not have to hit the rails

September 26, 2008

As I have stated before, better application interaction across different devices should be the web standard we all aim for.

However, progress has been sticky – and it can be difficult for users to access applications on different devices.

Standards such as XForms and WHATWG provide a step in the right direction, but are constrained by either the need for user plug-ins or the slow development of the framework.

So, how do alternative standards – such as JavaServer Faces (JSF) and Ruby on Rails (RoR) – provide more opportunities for creating web applications?

As its name suggests, JSF is Java-based – and its component-based framework aims to ease the development of user interfaces (UIs).

The approach allows the creation and re-use of specific components, promoting the quick and flexible development of web pages.

One of the other key benefits of JSF is the ability to work with a range of internet technologies. Particularly notable is the interaction with Ajax, which can help developer’s enrich JSF designs with Ajax-based components.

Work on the JSF specification continues apace and a series of big-name vendors are helping to push the development and adoption of the standard.

RoR – which is an open source framework for creating web applications – is also receiving an increasing amount of backing.

The framework intends to push agile programming, providing standard models for web site construction and the automatic allocation of information in databases.

Apple started shipping the framework in late 2007 and other firms continue to show an interest.

Microsoft, for example, recently announced plans to increase its commitment to Ruby. The Redmond-based software giant plans to take part in the RubySpec project, an attempt to provide a complete specification for the RoR programming language.

Such progress shows how developers do not need to feel constrained as they attempt to create usable web applications.

As my previous posts have aimed to highlight, the world of front-end development for SOA is a crowded place and each framework offers a unique blend of benefits and constraints.

My advice is simple. First, don’t re-invent the wheel – there is definitely an available framework that suits your needs, without having to create a presentation platform.

Second, take tour time before sourcing a solution. Look at all your presentation requirements across online and offline experiences, analyse support for devices and variations in presentation, and also investigate the skills you may – or may not have – in your organisation.

Just remember that the options are out most definitely out there.


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.