http://www.w3.org/ -- 18 April 2000 -- The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) announced the release of the first Public Working Draft of the XForms Data Model. The XForms Data Model Working Draft, along with the XForms Requirements document, provide the first cross-industry efforts in seven years to produce the next generation of Web-based forms.
When HTML Forms were introduced to the Web in 1993, they provided a means to gather information and perform transactions. The structure of forms served the needs of many users at that time, as well as the devices used to access the Web.
Seven years later, the Web is a space where hundreds of millions of users expect to use many different devices to perform increasingly complex transactions, many of which exceed the limitations of the original forms technology.
The W3C HTML Working Group has a charter to develop a form archictecture that provides a better match to workflow and database applications, to the proliferation of new Web-enabled devices, and to the XML-driven Web.
The XForms Subgroup has accepted the challenge and produced a forms architecture that separates data modeling, logic, and presentation. The XForms Data Model has emerged as the first in a series of XForms specifications.
XForms aims to ease the transition of the Web from HTML to XML. As XHTML 1.0 allows HTML content authors to make a smooth entry into the XML world, XForms allow Web application authors to combine the modularity of XML with the simplicity of HTML to gain key advantages in the areas of device independence, accessibility, business-to-business and consumer e-commerce, and embedded devices.
The XForms Data Model deliberately separates the purpose of a form from its presentation. This allows the application author to rigorously define the form data, independent of how end-users interact with the application. The separation facilitates the development of Web applications with user interaction components, and provides advantages to Web application developers.
In the XForms suite of specifications, the rules for describing, validating, and submitting application data are expressed in XML, as well as the submitted data. By providing the rules and data in XML, XForms lays the foundation for combinations with other XML applications, supporting the extensible Web.
Separating purpose and presentation also makes device independence easier to achieve by allowing Web application authors to write the data model once for all devices. Because the data model is not tied to presentation, developers may customize the presentation in a way that best suits each device's user interface. Support for device independence paves the way for a Web that is accessible to all users.
The XForms subgroup is producing early implementations of XForms, to determine requirements and test ideas for the specification. Examples are available from the XForms page. Other members of the subgroup have committed to implementing XForms in their products.
The XForms Data Model is the first in a series of XForms specifications. Other XForms work focuses on the logic layer - identifying relationships and dependencies between data model fields - and on the presentation aspects.
The W3C was created to lead the Web to its full potential by developing common protocols that promote its evolution and ensure its interoperability. It is an international industry consortium jointly run by the MIT Laboratory for Computer Science (MIT LCS) in the USA, the National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Control (INRIA) in France and Keio University in Japan. Services provided by the Consortium include: a repository of information about the World Wide Web for developers and users, reference code implementations to embody and promote standards, and various prototype and sample applications to demonstrate use of new technology. To date, over 410 organizations are Members of the Consortium. For more information see http://www.w3.org/