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Extensible Forms Description Language

See what the media is saying:
August 17, 1998
PCWeek Online: XML advances to easier publishing

August 15, 1998
INFO World: UWI.Com's XFDL to enable creating, viewing forms on Net

UWI.Com Unveils First XML-Based Protocol for Complex Business Forms on the Web

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIF -- August 17, 1998 -- UWI.Com, a leader in the emerging category of Internet forms, today unveiled Extensible Forms Description Language (XFDL), the first open, XML-based protocol for creating, viewing, and filling complex business forms on the Internet. XFDL was authored by UWI.Com and Tim Bray, co-editor of the XML specification. XFDL will facilitate the broad interchange of forms-based data through the body of tools developed in support of the XML standard.

Because XFDL is based on the public XML standard that was approved by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), users of XFDL forms are not locked into a proprietary vendor format. UWI.Com, an emphatic supporter of open standards, is a member of the W3C and actively supports the standards process. A beta version of UWI.Com's InternetForms Viewer, available in September 1998, will be the first software to incorporate the XFDL open protocol.

Benefits of XFDL
XFDL was developed because auditable business forms cannot be represented with HTML. Forms are made up of questions (form template) and answers (input data). Without the questions, the answers are meaningless. Because HTML forms only transmit and store the answers, HTML forms cannot be part of a reliable audit trail. However, XFDL provides full non-repudiation and auditability by storing the form template, data, and internal logic in a single file that can be digitally signed. XFDL also offers built-in logic, calculations, type checking, enclosures, and online help.

"XFDL is an elegant application of XML," says Tim Bray. "UWI.Com provides proven forms technology with a first-rate suite of accompanying software. XFDL opens up this technology, providing a vehicle for interoperation among forms processing applications on the Web. The fact that XML is web-optimized and fully internationalized makes it the natural interchange vehicle for this class of operation."

Developers looking for a web-based forms solution can now leverage their XML development experience and create applications that will extract information from XFDL forms, streamlining the integration of web-based forms across the enterprise.

About XML
XML is a simple, flexible dialect of SGML (Standard Generalized Markup Language), a standard for representing data that is also the parent language of HTML. XML was developed by the W3C, not to improve upon or replace HTML, but to create a new paradigm for organizing, finding, and exchanging information on the web.

"For many, XML's unique role is to provide a superset of HTML functionality for Web-page markup, but its key contribution will be to serve as the 'Esperanto' of information sharing and interchange, and the brunt of its Web-impact will be on restructuring the economics of Web-based transactions," according to an April 1998 report by Rita Knox, Vice President and Research Director at GartnerGroup.

About UWI.Com's InternetForms System
UWI.Com's InternetForms System will be the first software package to implement the open XFDL protocol. The InternetForms System allows organizations to move their business forms to the Internet, saving them time and money by eliminating expensive paper-based steps such as pre-printing and warehousing. Industry experts estimate that forms account for over 80% of all business documents. Moreover, it costs organizations $120 billion every year to process paper forms-a cost that can be reduced significantly with InternetForms.

About UWI.Com (www.uwi.com)
UWI.Com is a pioneer and leader in the Internet forms software industry. Unlike many publishers, UWI.Com bases their business forms solution on an open standard that is freely available to the public. Global 2000 and public sector clients, including the U.S. Department of Defense, have deployed InternetForms. UWI.Com's partners include such companies as VeriSign, Datakey, Action Technologies, and Intelligent Environments. Interested parties may learn more about UWI.Com and its products through the company's website at http://www.uwi.com or by calling 1-888-517-2675.

About Tim Bray
Tim Bray is a Canadian. He graduated from the University of Guelph in 1981, and after on-the-job training from Digital and GTE, he became manager of the New Oxford English Dictionary Project at the University of Waterloo in 1986. He co-founded Open Text Corporation (NASDAQ: OTEXF) in 1989, and started an independent consulting practice under the name Textuality in 1996. He is a Seybold Fellow, Technical Editor of XML.com, and co-editor of the World Wide Web Consortium's Extensible Markup Language Specification.

NOTE: Trademarks: UWI.Com, The Internet Forms Company, and InternetForms System are trademarks of UWI Unisoft Wares Inc. All other products named herein are trademarks of their respective manufacturers.

XFDL Specification

We will be posting the XFDL specification at this location, early in the week of August 24. 1998.

Find out more about XFDL and UWI.Com

  • Take an online tour of UWI.Com's InternetForms System software.
  • Why are auditablity and non-repudiation important for web-based business forms?
  • What is an InternetForm?

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