- Paperback: 272 pages
- Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional (October 3, 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0321154991
- ISBN-13: 978-0321154996
- Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 0.7 x 9.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 11 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,148,852 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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XForms: XML Powered Web Forms
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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.”—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.”—Sean McGrath
“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.”—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.”—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.”—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.
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.
Top customer reviews
The book is well written in a compact and precise style. It also has several tables that I found to be handy as references although there is no full appendix listing all the XForms elements which would have been very useful. It does have some useful additional information such as how to use CSS with XForms.
T.V. Raman is also a very credible expert on XForms since he was on the w3c XForms standards body. He gives several insights into why the standard is structured to be device independent. This allows XForms to run on web pages and mobile phone applications.
The only reason I did not give this a 5 star is that the examples on the online on the web site have many problems. The book was written using LATEX and many of the examples on-line still have many LATEX codes in them and will not run without much editing. Somewhat sloppy.
My hope is that the author fixes these problems in the future so that all the examples would work with the FireFox XForms plug-in. That would be ideal for using this book in the XForms classes I teach. The book could also have used a bit more editing, I found several grammatical errors but no real conceptual errors.
Raman belongs to the school of tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them it, then tell them what you told them. His English is rather academic in style, but it is always clear.
Raman has put considerable thought into the problems addressed by XForms.The book ought not be read as a description of XForms syntax, nor is it really a tutorial on how to use XForms. Rather, Raman's book is a treatise that sets out the desirable characteristics of electronic forms, especially those deployed over the Web. By explaining requirements, and illustrating, by means of those examples, how XForms meets his requirements, Raman has produced a compelling justification for the design of XForms. He has also gone a long way towards providing a clear set of criteria against which other forms technologies might be measured.
XForms is divided into three parts. Very roughly, Part One describes the mess we are in today, and sets out the characteristics of a means to salvation, and just how these are embodied in XForms. The second is a blow by blow account of the act of salvation; while the third points to the state of grace we might achieve in the future, if we pursue the principles on which XForms is based.
So, Raman sets off on the journey with a description, by means of a simple example, of the tools and approaches used in typical Web forms projects at the moment. He then spends some time reworking the example as an XForms implementation, and highlights the key advantages of using XForms. In doing so he introduces us to the major components of Xforms.
The rest of Part One is an introduction to the array of other XML standards the potential XForms developer will face when using XForms. Raman lists six standards on which XForms has some dependency, including XML itself. This is a strength of XForms. Processors, can, at least partly, be amalgamations of existing implementations of standards, such as W3C XML Schema. Furthermore authors are likely to be using skills that are useful in other contexts.
Part Two consists of a more detailed examination of XForms. Raman first takes us through the UI itself, moving from simple constructs to the more sophisticated. Each section describes the use of XForms components, with worked examples, and so helps to put into context the architectural principles sketched out in Part One.
As an example, let's look at Section 3.4, Types of Selection Controls. Raman tells us that it is a common requirement that a user make a selection from a predefined list of values. He cites the various ways that this can be physically represented on different devices, but then makes the point that "XForms defines selection controls based on the functionality provided, rather than their appearance in a given environment. This design has the advantage of capturing the underlying intent in a given user interaction rather than its mere visual appearance." (p.63). Raman expands his argument with a worked example, that contrasts how a voice browser might struggle with an HTML implementation of a choice, but work very naturally with the XForms equivalent.
Having described the basic building blocks of the UI, Raman tells us how to combine them within groups, repeating groups, and the XForms equivalent of tabbed groups.
Next come accounts of the bits the author needs to make a form function; Model Item Properties (MIPs), Functions, Actions and Events. In these chapters Raman explains and justifies XForms declarative style, whilst carefully acknowledging that techniques such as scripting have proved their worth in allowing people to "experiment and innovate on the Web" (p.163). As an example of the power of the declarative approach, Raman sets out how an author can use dynamically evaluated MIPs such as relevant, and read-only, combined with CSS, to control the physical representation of forms, by hiding controls, or groups that are bound to nodes that become irrelevant, for example.
The last section of XForms lays before the reader Raman's hopes for a future Web in which XForms acts as a mediator between humans and Web services and so; "allows users to interact naturally with complex, structured data; and does so across many modalities, in a way that makes the Web universally accessible".
Raman devotes a chapter to each aspect of his vision. In the first, he points out that web services rely on the transfer of "well structured, rigorously validated" XML, all ready for machine processing. XForms allows people to interact directly with such user unfriendly data. Furthermore, XForms allows authors to create islands of well structured data within oceans of the kind of semi-structured document that people use all the time. So "XForms makes the original promise of the document is the interface a reality".
The last two chapters establish that XForms does not impose any particular view of what that interface should be. Raman makes very forcefully the point that XForms is through designed to support multi-modality and accessibility principles, and so makes it trivial for form authors to create forms that will work pretty much any way that is appropriate. Raman emphasises that accessibility and support for multiple modalities are all part and parcel of the same thing. Moreover he has illustrated his points very carefully, to make clear that accessibility is about improving everyone's experience of the Web. We all find ourselves in situations when we are functionally blind, or deaf, or physically impaired, every day of our lives, if we just stop to think about it.
But now, finally, attention has focussed on HTML itself, and indeed on broader interactive issues. Aided by the rise of cell phones and other media where you do not necessarily have a mouse or monitor. And where I/O might be audio with a limited keyboard. People asked, is there a way to write display logic that can easily handle both computers and phones? From this flowed a generalisation of HTML called XForms. The book emphasises XForms' close links with HTML. Deliberately so, to take advantage of the widespread knowledge of HTML. XForms is shown to have an elegant simplicity.
You should know, it IS more complex than HTML. It requires some knowledge of XML namespaces and XPath and CSS. But if you want to develop and easily support products that deploy on computers and phones and maybe other future platforms, then it is well worth it. Imagine XForms as a refactoring of HTML into XML.
By the way, the book talks of various motivations for using XForms, like making your products accessible to the blind. All to the good. But the blunt reality is that all other markets except those mentioned above are an afterthought.