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Xforms: Xml Powered Web Forms

by T. V. Raman

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About Book

Book Description

W3C XForms (XML powered web forms) is an overhaul to HTML forms from 1993. On-line forms are critical to electronic commerce on the Internet, and the HTML forms design is now beginning to show its age. The advent of XML on the WWW, and the subsequent move to Web services as a means of connecting disparate information technologies to deliver end-to-end customer solutions has now made XML documents central to the fabric of the WWW.

From the Back Cover

Praise for XForms: XML Powered Web Forms

“XForms is an exciting new technology for designing Web forms in an elegant and accessible way. Raman’s book provides strong motivations for flexibility in the design of human-machine interactions, and explains how to use XForms to this end in crystal-clear prose.”

         â€”Eve Maler
             XML Standards Architect, Sun Microsystems

“Interactive forms technology is the logical evolution of Web user interface design. XForms represents a significant leap forward in that evolution.”

         â€”Sean McGrath
             CTO, Propylon

“The greatest strength of this book is the skill with which T. V. Raman links the XForms technology with the larger context of the Web. The limitations of HTML forms, the ways in which XForms provides a better foundation for Web and Web service user interfaces, and the opportunities for an XForms-powered Web that is accessible to all users and devices are outlined and brought together in a compelling way.”

         â€”Michael Champion
             Advisory Research and Development Specialist, Software AG

“Raman’s book gives the reader an excellent explanation of the emerging W3C XForms recommendation. It’s a well-organized and well-written book that begins with a gentle introduction to the concepts that motivated the development of XForms and then provides a reasonable overview of the relevant XML technology related to XForms. Most of the book covers XForms components: user interface controls, model properties, functions, actions, and events. It concludes with XForms as a Web service, offering multi-modal access and accessibility. In light of the October 2003 deadline for U.S. federal agencies to comply with the mandate of the Government Paperwork Elimination Act (GPEA) to give citizens the opportunity to provide information online, this important technical work comes none too soon. As T. V. masterfully elucidates, XForms provides the ‘last mile’ in ‘connecting users to their data.’ Insightfully, he also observes ‘the document is the human interface’ to data—an understanding without which the challenge to make eGov services ‘citizen-centered’ simply cannot and will not be met.”

         â€”Owen Ambur
             Cofounder and Cochair, XML Working Group, U.S. CIO Council

“I found the author’s straightforward style quite comfortable and informative. I heartily recommend this book, especially for government XML developers interested in the broader area of E-Forms. Understanding XForms is key to developing robust and flexible E-Forms solutions that separate content, logic, validation, and presentation. You’ll never look at (X)HTML forms the same way after reading Raman’s book.”

         â€”Kenneth Sall
             GSA eGov Technical Architect/XML Specialist, SiloSmashers

“Reusable components such as E-Forms are at the heart of the U.S. Federal Enterprise Architecture and E-Government, and XML standards-based solutions are starting to appear for use across the government. T. V. Raman’s book meticulously explains how XForms leverage the power of using XML for E-Forms and have been designed to abstract much of XML’s functionality into a set of components referred to as MVC (Model, View, Controller), which separates the model from its final presentation. This XForms component architecture serves as an excellent roadmap for the reader. T. V. eloquently shows how XForms make the original promise of ‘the document is the interface’ a reality so the collected data can be directly submitted to a Web service—thus putting a human face on Web services!”

—Brand Niemann, Ph.D., Chair, XML Web Services Working Group, U.S. CIO Council

XForms—XML-powered Web forms—are set to replace HTML forms as the backbone of electronic commerce. XForms enable the creation and editing of structured XML content within a familiar Web browser environment, which is likely to play a key role in enabling simple browser-based access to Web services. XForms leverage the power of XML in modeling, collecting, and serializing user input. In this book, World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) XForms specification editor T. V. Raman explains how programmers can create durable and dependable feature-rich forms accessible from multiple platforms and devices and available in multiple languages and modes.

XForms play a key role in connecting humans to information technologies, deployed as Web services. This book begins by providing an overview of the XForms technology and the set of XML standards on which it is built, including XML Path Language (XPath), Dom2 events, XML events, XML namespaces, and XML Schema. Part II profiles the XForms architecture and its components. An introduction to the available user interface controls leads into a guide to creating complex user interfaces. The following chapters describe XForms model properties, functions, actions, and events. Each chapter’s increasingly complex examples illustrate the concepts discussed. The final part of the book details how XForms will be used to create a new generation of human-centric, multimodal, accessible Web transactions.

A companion CD-ROM provides examples of XForms applications as well as a fully accessible and speech-friendly HTML version of the book that includes hyperlinks to cross-references and the index.

Readers will learn:

  • Why XForms can deliver better user interaction at less cost
  • How the XForms technology works
  • What comprises the XForms architecture
  • How to use XForms to connect users to Web services
  • How XForms can accommodate spoken and visual interaction
  • How to ensure universal accessibility to Web content with XForms

XForms will transform the way companies and consumers handle Web transactions. XForms: XML Powered Web Forms provides Web developers, IT professionals, and Web server administrators with a firm grasp of this standard, how it will shape emerging solutions, and how it will change the nature of their day-to-day work.

About the Author

T. V. Raman is a member of IBM's Almaden Research Center and of the W3C XForms Working Group. He earned his Ph.D. from Cornell University and has filed more than 20 patents during his ten years of work in advanced technology development. His areas of expertise include auditory interfaces, scripting languages, Internet technologies such as Web server applications, and Web standards.


Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

W3C XForms--XML powered Web forms--is an overhaul to HTML forms from 1993. On-line forms are critical to electronic commerce on the Internet, and the HTML forms design from 1993 is now beginning to show its age. The advent of XML on the Web, and the subsequent move to Web Services as a means of connecting disparate information technologies to deliver end-to-end customer solutions has now made XML documents central to the fabric of the Web.

XForms leverages the power of using XML in modeling, collecting and serializing user input. The XForms design enables simple browser-based interfaces for creating and editing XML documents with the client providing interactive support for ensuring that the XML document is valid. Thus, XForms enables the last mileof connecting the end user to Web Services.

XForms user agents provide an easy-to-use browser-based interface that enables the end-user to interact directly with information technologies that have been published as Web Services. As the Web moves from being a desktop-only phenomenon to a means of ubiquitous electronic access, Web transactions need to be available from a variety of end-user access devices ranging from desktop computers to smart phones. The XForms authored interface is well-suited for delivery to a variety of interaction modalities and end-user devices, thus assuring content developers the widest audience for their transaction based applications.

From the user's perspective, XForms revolutionizes the way business critical information is collected and published on the Web. A key consequence of this evolution is that information technologists can continue to model business data using abstract structures that are amenable to machine processing; XForms binds a user-friendly Web browser interface to such abstract XML models, thereby empowering the end-user to edit and update these abstract structures. In this sense, XForms enables a standard Web browser to associate editable views to the underlying XML models. This ability to view and edit XML documents from within a standard Web browser is likely to prove a key empowering technology.

How To Read This Book

This book is targeted primarily at Web authors wishing to use XForms in their work. It is also meant to help IT specialists transition from using legacy HTML forms for their Web projects. The book has been written to complement the W3CX Forms specification, and not to replace it.

Each chapter of this book has a specific theme and concludes with a section that presents the material covered by that chapter at a glance. The book is organized in three parts:

  • Welcome: The first part gives a birds-eye view of XForms and the various XML standards that it uses.
  • Components: The second part details the various components making up the XForms architecture.
  • Emerging Areas: The final part covers the relevance of XForms in the areas of Web services, multimodal interaction and accessibility.
  • Welcome To XForms

    The first chapter of this book presents a birds-eye view of XForms after motivating the need for this new technology. This chapter should be sufficient to give decision makers a taste for the benefits of this exciting new standard. Web authors will find an introductory example that is first authored using the now familiar legacy HTML forms and then recast as an XForms application.

    W3C XForms is built on a set of XML standards. The second chapter reviews these various standard building blocks and is meant as a quick tutorial. The material presented here is sufficient to get a taste for these standards and understand the examples in this book. However, it is not meant to be a complete review of these various standards. Readers familiar with XML Schema, XML namespaces and XPath will find this chapter a useful review. Readers new to these specifications will find the chapter a useful starting point as they get acquainted with the space of XML standards.

    XForms Components

    The next six chapters present the components making up XForms. Each chapter consists of numerous examples that illustrate each concept as it is introduced;the examples have been designed to build on one another and as a consequence, examples in each chapter increase in complexity. XForms authors will find the index at the end of the book useful when looking up the usage pattern for the various XForms constructs. Implementors should find this useful in testing their implementations against the various XForms features.

    XForms And The Next Generation Web

    The final part of the book focuses on three key areas where XForms is likely to play a significant role:

  • Web Services: Creating user interfaces to Web Services.
  • Multimodal Interaction: Deploying multimodal interaction where users are able to interact using a variety of synchronized modalities such as spoken and visual interaction. This aspect is extremely relevant in deploying Web interaction to the plethora of emerging mobile devices.
  • Accessibility: Ensuring that Web content and applications are accessible to all. Implementing accessibility assures Web authors of the widest possible audience for their content; it also ensures that Web content meets US Federal Access Guidelines.
  • These areas are at the center of intense activity within the standards community and are the focus of emerging customer solutions from the various major vendors.These chapters are designed to give IT specialists a leg up in coming up tospeed on how the new XForms standard meshes with these three key areas of Webdevelopment.




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