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Trouble Brewing at the W3C? 339

An anonymous reader writes "A breakaway faction of the World Wide Web consortium (W3C) called WHAT-WG, or the Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group--which includes Apple, the Mozilla Foundation and Opera--is threatening to revolt over electronic forms standards. WHAT-WG has announced its intention to submit the draft to the W3C, posing the potentially awkward possibility of the consortium advocating two conflicting avenues for Web forms. The fate of a standard could also determine whether the order form could be accessed in any standards-compliant Web browser, or if it would be available only to users of a particular operating system--an outcome that has browser makers and others worried about the role of Microsoft."
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Trouble Brewing at the W3C?

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  • by Hulkster ( 722642 ) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @08:40PM (#11731553) Homepage
    Ummmmm ... is the combined market share of ALL browsers outside of "Apple (aka Safari), Mozilla, and Opera" and IE even close to 1%? I.e. I don't want to be unfair (even though this is /. which is anti-MS), but is this really shaping up as a everyone-but-Microsoft vs. Microsoft battle? Or (and I did RTFA), is it more a matter of which technical standard is better?

    Support Celiac Disease Research []

    • Ok, so the everybody at 1% is off obviously, but come on he has a valid question -- is this a case of everybody vs. MS?
      • by buckhead_buddy ( 186384 ) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @10:01PM (#11732097)
        Swamii paraphrased the legitimate portion of the troll: "is this a case of everybody vs. MS?"

        This appears to be everybody against inertia; and Microsoft appears to be on the side of inertia. As another example, Dave Hyatt (a development lead on Apple's Safari) posted a tale [] about similar problems dealing with the inertia of the float handling in CSS:

        Next I tried WinIE, and this is the part that blew my mind. Depending on whether the float was an image or a table, the float was left or right aligned, the table specified that it floated via the align attribute or the float CSS property, and on whether or not the normal flow element was declared as a sibling or not of the float, I could get completely different results! The level of inconsistency was astonishing.

        I was able to watch WinIE do clipping in one case, to wrap in a second case, to not wrap in a third case, to overwrite content in a fourth case, all by just tweaking the parameters outlined above. It's no wonder Web designers have no idea how to code a page to standards when they have to deal with a layout engine that is so horribly inconsistent and buggy.

        Like CSS adoption, the problem with XForms is the lack of backwards compatibility with the old de-facto standards. Now with major releases coming soon (Apple in the first half of the year, Mozilla before May) it's looking like XForms can move forward by offering pretty baubles to web developers and browsers with these backwards-compatible, familiar, tweaks to encourage upgrades (and while you're at it we'll be in a better place toward Xforms 1.0 or 1.1 adoption).
    • Note to moderators and readers: the parent is saying, "Is this really a battle for the best standard, or is it just a political battle among the existing browsers such as Safari, Mozilla, Opera, and MSIE?"

      He raises a valid point: is this battle about standards or browsers? Is XForms being downplayed because WebForms is technically superior, or is it just because XForms plugins only exist for MSIE?
      • Correction to myself... obviously, XForms is not being downplayed because MSIE supports it, since MS does /not/ encourage use of XForms.

        This is a tricky argument to phrase correctly. I think that the question is if XForms is being downplayed because the lack of backwards compatibility might drive lazy or non-standards-minded people to a MS platform rather than risk current breakage with XForms.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Calculating browser market share is notoriously tricky. But still, add Apples OS market share (some 3-4%, mostly Safari) to Linuxes market share (another 3-4%, mostly Firefox) to Firefox on Windows desktops (possibly 5-10%) and you are somewhere around 15%. Opera has maybe just 1% of the desktop browser market, but here's the catch: it's rapidly becoming the default browser for handhelds (funky mobiles and PDAs), and the hype these days is that handhelds are about to become a major access point for the web
  • by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @08:43PM (#11731567)

    "The best thing about standards is that you have so many to choose from."

    • We have a saying at work, "If there is a standard, then we will support it." Be it Java, .NET, Oracle, MsSQL, SyBase, Perl, ASP. If it's a standard we will support it.
    • by Zocalo ( 252965 ) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @08:59PM (#11731676) Homepage
      So many standards indeed. According to the article "The W3C is saying the answer is XForms. Microsoft is saying it's XAML. Macromedia is saying it's Flash MX. And Mozilla [along with Opera and Apple] is saying it's XUL."

      OK. Lovely. It looks like the Internet Explorer vs. Netscape Navigator browser war is back with a vengeance, only with some new players. I think it's safe to say that Macromedia isn't going to get its way, and I hope we've all learnt our lessons about Microsoft's bait and switch tactics with standards by now. Yeah, right! I'm betting Microsoft will go with XAML, and everyone else will go with XUL only to add XAML support later because Microsoft will refuse to support XUL. <Sigh> It's going to be CSS and browser specific hacks all over again, isn't it?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 20, 2005 @08:43PM (#11731571)
    It is a period of civil war.
    Mozilla spaceships, striking
    from a hidden base, have won
    their first victory against
    the evil Microsoft Empire.

    During the battle, Mozilla
    spies managed to steal secret
    plans to the Empire's
    ultimate weapon, INTERNET
    EXPLORER 7, an armored web
    browser with enough power to
    destroy an entire website.

    Pursued by the Empire's
    sinister agents, WHAT-WG
    races home aboard its
    browser, custodian of the
    form standards that can save
    their people and restore
    freedom to the galaxy....
  • Wow... (Score:4, Funny)

    by Quixote ( 154172 ) * on Sunday February 20, 2005 @08:44PM (#11731574) Homepage Journal
    Forms based on current Web standards are used in every Google search, every sale, every automated blog entry, every online tax payment, and every Web e-mail log-in.

    Wow... I didn't know these all-powerful "forms" were everywhere!

    • by flargleblarg ( 685368 ) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @08:54PM (#11731637)

      Kid, I've flown from one side of the galaxy to the other and I've seen a lot of strange stuff, but I've never seen anything to make me believe that there's one all-powerful form that controls everything.

      • Where is the +5 Hilarious option?

      • Sure is one all-powerful form that controls everything: form hj-8452-lk-1, "Request to control issuance of forms."

        Since red tape makes the universe run, he who controls who has a form controls the universe.

        • by Anonymous Coward
          he who controls who has a form controls the universe.

          That also sounds familiar...

          The planet Internet, known as Earth.
          Land of PCs.
          Home of the users of web-forms.
          He who controls the users, controls the forms.
          He who controls the forms... controls the universe.
          The W3C has proposed a challenge to each of the three great browsers.
          "The browser that produces the most users shall rule the web.
          "There are no fixed territories, and no rules of engagement."
          Vast armies have arrived.
          Now three browsers fight for contro
        • And he who controls the spice...controls the forms...
    • Re:Wow... (Score:5, Funny)

      by earthbound kid ( 859282 ) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @09:31PM (#11731876) Homepage
      Oh yeah, read your Plato. The Forms are awesome. First of all, there's the Form of the Good, which is a lot like the sun. And everyone else is like a slave in cave. (Basically, it's just a rip-off of the Matrix. Still, it's kind of interesting.)

      So, if I understand this story correctly, Microsoft feels that Forms are just properties of webpages that already exist, but the others feel that Forms are timeless, ideal webpages that we can remember experiencing before our birth. You know, like the Englebart hypertext computer.

      If the standards committee is really torn between these two ways of understand the Forms, it may come down to someone like Hegel, showing that the Forms are a historically evolving entity, moving towards an inevitable conclusion.

      Or, Microsoft will do whatever the hell they want in IE7 and everyone will just have to complain about it.

      Either way, it's good to see more public philosophy.
      • No, No it is the WHAT-WG who feels that forms are just particulars of webpages that already exist and the XFORM faction that believes forms are timeless ideal webpages.

        Microsoft, never one to give much weight to intersubjective agreement, doesn't believe in forms. At least insofar as forms are taken as objective browser independent phenomenon. They feel our perception of the form is a culturally dependent phenomenon.
  • More differences between browsers... that won't be good. Its already a nuciance with standards not being fully supported as is across the different browsers.
  • by thephotoman ( 791574 ) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @08:46PM (#11731586) Journal
    I'm all for choice when it comes to how to do things, but standards should be, well, standard. The point of such arbitrary standards is lost if the bodies that are supposed to arbitrate the mechanisms are squabbling.

    However, given the members of the W3C that are in the breakaway faction, it gives me pause to think that the only non-participating engine coder on the list is Microsoft. It makes me think that perhaps the standard that our favorite punching bag monopoly is trying to do something with the web forum standards that the others aren't liking.

    Of course, this is without R-ing the FA, so take what I say with a grain of salt.
    • by Wesley Felter ( 138342 ) <> on Sunday February 20, 2005 @08:54PM (#11731635) Homepage
      You make a good point. I looked at the XForms spec [], and it was written by IBM, Xerox, Adobe, SAP, Novell, Sun, et al. What do these companies have in common? None of them develop major Web browsers.
      • by Zocalo ( 252965 ) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @09:10PM (#11731741) Homepage
        None of them develop major Web browsers.

        True enough, although Sun does produce a web browser called HotJava it's not exactly got a great market share. What they (mostly) do have in common however is that they write the backend applications that will be receiving the data *from* the forms. I guess it depends on which where your first priority lies; getting the form looking pretty or getting accurate and useful data into your backend systems.

        • by Nik13 ( 837926 ) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @09:34PM (#11731888) Homepage
          The thing is, the forms won't be used by the browser makers nor the back end makers (well, indirectly in both cases). It's the web application developpers who do, and they'er also the ones left using whatever technologies that are available to solve the problem.

          XForms wouldn't work "out of the box" for most users of my stuff, so I'm a bit hesitant. Ideally I'd have to have an alternate method of entry with "old" forms. And I just don't feel I'm gaining much, never was big on XForms (neither has been anybody it seems, since the first draft). It could become an alternative later on if browser support improves.

          Flash MX? Flash is known to too many (including me) as a way to create highly annoying ads, making us use extensions like FlashBlock. It's not a good way to make your site "accessible" either. It just feels like some field (no pun intended) where Flash doesn't belong into and shouldn't extent into. Leave it for unusable site nav and annoying ads.

          XUL - you hear a lot about it lately. Haven't really seen much or heard of anybody who's really done anything (web forms related) with it. And even though it's getting more popular, it doesn't work on most browsers, so I can't really consider it anyways.

          XAML - are you out of your mind? Another Windows Monopoly-OS centric solution, forcing adoption of the worst browser of them all. People are starting to get the point that those kind of standards (like ActiveX) are bad. If you need LH+IE7 to use it, it's completely and absolutely out of the question. Alternative OS/browsers are left out. And I can't see the W3C drink bad microsoft kool-aid and adopt XAML as some web standard.

          I've been dying for better forms for the last year mostly as I've been doing more web stuff. I haven't read much onto Web Forms 2.0 yet, but it might be an option, especially if it has good browser adoption, and by seeing the members of the WHAT-WG, you'd think it should be the case. Otherwise, XForms may be the next best bet still.

          Either ways, I'll be happy when this is all resolved, and that we have something better and consistently available for all our visitors, no matter what OS or browser. (If that ever happens, that is).
      • None of them develop major Web browsers.

        Furthermore, none of them MAKE WEBSITES FOR A LIVING. They don't have to worry about a website running in this or that browser ("hey, just make it have a javavm and we're all set"), and they certainly don't have to cope with pointy-haired bosses wanting to move this graphic here or there.

        "What do you mean it can't be done?"
        "The browsers do not support the specs, sir."
        "You're fired!"

        Oh, you bet they'd DO support webforms if they had to experience the pain of web designing.
    • They've got IE7 coming out "someday", but in the meantime, if there's a new web forms standard, that just costs them money to support it and there's not payback for that support.

      I'm not saying they're right. I'm justing pointing out that from MS's viewpoint, the status-quo is just fine right now.
  • Wait a minute... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Apreche ( 239272 ) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @08:46PM (#11731587) Homepage Journal
    So let me get this straight. Microsoft wants to make Xforms the standard. Everyone else wants something else to be the standard. But does it really matter which standard we choose as long as its an open one? And aren't all W3C standards open? So what's the problem? I say choose the better standard regardless of other factors.

    Or is there something I'm missing here?
    • Re:Wait a minute... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ekuns ( 695444 ) * on Sunday February 20, 2005 @08:52PM (#11731629) Journal

      Nope, Microsoft is ignoring XForms just like everyone else. Microsoft would prefer people use XAML (from Avalon). It seems the only folks implementing XForms are not browser makers, but people developing intranet based software.

      Having written forms-based code with current browsers, I agree with the XForms supporters in that scripting is a terrible way to handle form input. It just doesn't scale and you have the form in one location and the code scripting in another place, so if you change something you have two separate locations to update everything in.

      But I know nothing about the XForms standard, so I can't speak intelligently about it.

    • I find XForms the better idea, as it doesn't rely on the ludicrous assumption that HTML is the only markup language which forms will ever be used in.
    • Re:Wait a minute... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by overunderunderdone ( 521462 ) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @09:34PM (#11731887)
      No, You didn't get it straight. Microsoft is pursuing their own proprietary solution completely separate from these two competing standards.

      The fight at the W3C is over the open standard Microsoft will be ignoring and/or attempting to crush. One side (tech purists?) is advocating a completely new, technically elegant revolutionary new standard. The other side (Microsoft competitors) is worried that this totally new miracle standard, despite it's technical advantages will be crushed in the marketplace by the proprietary Microsoft "standard". They believe it will be crushed for two reasons: 1) It will take a long time to implement and then for users to adopt and Microsoft will beat it to the market with their solution and 2) It will never be supported by dominant web browser. The alternative they advocate an "evolutionary" refinement of existing standards that can actually be implemented with existing browsers using javascript. It beats Microsoft to the market, it's already supported by everybody including Microsoft(!) it's a no-brainer for web application developers trying to decide which technology to use.
      • by PepeGSay ( 847429 ) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @09:55PM (#11732028)
        You forgot number 3: The microsoft standard actually deals with the real world business needs for these forms.

        And number 4: The "evolutionary" method is a load of crap that has been tried before (in essence, and in a non-published/standardized way)by people such as myself and it always sucks eggs once implemented for anything more than posting porn to a bit torrent tracker.

        It is not a no brainer. There is far more going on that the micrsoft idea and "purists" at the W3C are dealing with. Most notable, web form generation from meta data (in a well designed way) that can generate forms for passage through XML middleware (like biztalk and some java stuff out there) without a ton of work for minor modifications and on a large scale. It is most certainly not a no-brainer.
  • ...but aren't WHAT-WG and the W3C advocating two standards for different purposes?

    I thought that Web Forms was seen more as an extension of HTML 4.0 forms to make building HTML applications easier, whilst XForms was to improve things like introspection/interoperability (at the cost of being close to impossible for mere mortals to grok)...
  • by astebbin ( 836820 ) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @08:49PM (#11731611)
    ... this'll all turn out just like Beta vs. VHS with some initial worriement that resolves itself with one set of standards beating down the other and becoming the norm. As for the possible role of Microsoft... whoever gets Bill Gates on their team, wins.
  • Give me a break... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ThePatrioticFuck ( 640185 ) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @08:50PM (#11731617)
    I just love how :

    "Apple, the Mozilla Foundation and Opera--is
    threatening to revolt over electronic forms standards."

    suddenly becomes Microsoft's fault :

    "an outcome that has browser makers and others worried about the role of Microsoft."

    Geezus guys, feeling a little insecure are we?
  • by IO ERROR ( 128968 ) * < minus cat> on Sunday February 20, 2005 @08:50PM (#11731618) Homepage Journal
    I actually read the whole article trying to figure out the main differences between XForms and Web Forms 2.0, and this is what I come up with:


    • Doesn't require scripting
    • Is not backward compatible
    • Microsoft doesn't support it
    Web Forms 2.0:
    • Requires scripting
    • Is backward compatible
    • Microsoft doesn't support it
    No clear winner here, yet, but I'll put my money on XForms.
    • by ArmchairGenius ( 859830 ) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @09:01PM (#11731690) Homepage
      Yeah the article was a bit confusing on the details, but I think that summary is accurate.

      In addition to those two, there are other "standards" out there made by different proprietary makers. Microsoft has XAML, Macromedia has Flash MX, and Mozilla has XUL....

      It sounds like the splinter faction is concerned about the lack of backward compatibility in XForms, i.e., it wouldn't be supported by their browsers and would probably require a plug-in.

      Sense no current browser supports Xforms, this group figures that Microsoft won't implement it and instead use its XAML form specification. And since IE has over 90% of the market, that would make Xforms essentially irrelevant. XAML would become the defacto standard, and the spliter group's products (alternative browsers to IE) would not be able to implement the proprietary XAML standard. This would effectively lock thei products out of any corporate market that utilized form technology.

      So it is a pretty big deal, and it makes sense that the splinter group members are concerned enough to take this action.

    • I get the feeling that the problem with adopting XForms is the "chicken and egg" issue of current browsers not supporting it so current websites would look like they were moving in REVERSE if they supported it.

      It looks like nothing will get the current standard adoption out of NEUTRAL (XUL, XAML, XForms, or some proprietary tech) unless it can be compatible with the current browser tech.

      Web Forms 2.0 offers something that the web sites could adopt that would still be backwards friendly to Internet Explore
    • by fm6 ( 162816 ) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @09:30PM (#11731870) Homepage Journal
      I haven't RTFAed, myself, but from what I've read elsewhere, you have it right.

      Not a clear winner? Depends on who you are. If you want more powerful forms applications, but don't think that XForms will be widely implemented before the next Ice Age, then Web Forms is the clear winner. If you want a nice clean, well-specified, easy to implement forms specification, XForms is the clear winner. And if you don't care...

      This is your typical W3C specification hassle. The W3C keeps grinding out really detailed new specifications, but seems totally indifferent to the fact that that these specs take forever to get implemented in the real world, if they ever do. It's not as bad as it used to be, since everbody except Microsoft seems to be on the standards bandwagon. (Netscape used to be militantly indifferent to standards.) But unfortunately, Microsoft still has 95+% of the browser market.

    • XForms: ...
      * Microsoft doesn't support it

      Web Forms 2.0: ...
      * Microsoft doesn't support it

      Not that that's a problem - we don't support Microsoft either.

  • What's the point? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Khuffie ( 818093 ) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @08:55PM (#11731647) Homepage
    No matter what the 'winner' is, people will still be running older browsers that don't support the new technology. So, as a 'just in case' scenario, application developers will still be using whatever programming language they're coding in to do the verification and whatever it is they need in the background. Unless I'm missing a magical thing that XForms, XAML and Web Forms 2.0 would be doing?
  • by helix_r ( 134185 ) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @08:55PM (#11731651)

    We have been waiting for xforms for far too long.

    Forms, the way they are now, are a mess. And the very very late introduction of the long-awaited xforms will serve to F things up even more because all the developer toolchains will have to be made compliant (or not). Its going a long and painful road.

    Part of the blame goes to java (sun) and microsoft for screwing up and/or sabotaging the applet concept.

    If things were done right, developers would be writing user-input pages as applets rather than a messy rat's nest of css, html, forms, javascript, jsp's, etc...

    • Forms are easy:
      form name='frmBobsForm' action='loadinfo.jsp'
      input type='text' maxlength='20' name='txtField' size='22'
      input type='submit' value='Send Info'

      Easy as pie.

      • By saying that forms are a mess, I do not mean they are hard (by themselves).

        The problem is the whole big picture of what needs to be done to get forms-on-web-page to work properly and meet all requirements.

        In fact, I would argue that forms are too simple. That's why we need all the exessive junk on many webpages.

        At some point, things will get so messed up that it will just make more sense to go back to an application (applet).

        • Maybe people should quit trying to screw in a nail with a hammer. Any really complex web interfaces my company builds use Flash which works on Linux, Windows, OS X & even PocketPCs.

          If your interface is very complex it would make more sense to build a web-enabled application for clients instead of a web-browser that brings problems like pop-ups, etc with it.

          Just my 2 cents as a developer (I do both stand alone & web-based apps at my company).
          • Maybe people should quit trying to screw in a nail with a hammer.

            Aside from concerns regarding accessibility, bandwidth demands, etc., Flash has one major flaw. It costs way too much - I don't have $500 to spend for Flash MX, much less $700 for Flash MX Pro.

            I'm generally not an open-source-is-better-than-closed zealot, but in this case, open standards that people can use regardless of whether they can afford a several hundred dollar development application are far superior. Particularly when the t
  • I read Joe Gregorio's take on XForms [] a while back. XForms seems to make everything regarding forms/interactivity unnecessarily complicated. (The standard might've been simplified since then, un-RTFA etc.)
  • Like saying... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ET_Fleshy ( 829048 ) <> on Sunday February 20, 2005 @08:59PM (#11731679)
    "The XForms group tried to do the right thing, but as a result they dropped backwards compatibility" ... "And I think that's very unfortunate, because trying to replace a few hundred million browsers is a rather hard thing to do, and I don't think XForms is 10 times better."
    Seams comparable to gas stations "revolutionizing" the way fuel is pumped into cars with a new fuel nozzle. The only catch, it doesn't work with any of the gas tanks installed in cars today, nor are there any cars planned to support the system in the near future. "...however we believe our system is so much better that the world should conform to us."

    Now while I am one who loves standardization, the idea that you can impose standards that render all known browsers obsolete is ridiculous. Most people can't figure out how to update their computer with security patches much less download a whole new browser gasp... it'll never happen. The industry will not just leave 90% of their customers out in the cold because they cannot support the new forms. On another note, I am glad to see that some people are not affraid to stick up for the average person and challenge the W3C's authority.
    • Re:Like saying... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Eil ( 82413 ) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @11:00PM (#11732581) Homepage Journal

      I was about to disagree with you, but as I was finishing up my last witty jab at your argument, I realized that you were right... but for the wrong reasons.

      Case study: Despite being proprietary and not bundled with any operating system or browser at the time, Flash took off quickly, and well before a significant portion of the world's population was able to browse the web. But upon seeing site after site that required Flash because of all the cool things it could do, people muddled their way through getting it onto their computers until it was popular enough that they didn't have to. Specifically, they didn't have to bring their computer into their dealer and say, "Excuse me, could you upgrade my gas tank, err, web browser please?" They just downloaded the software, hit "OK" and went to town.

      Now, the real reason standards-based web forms won't catch on has nothing to do with this, and more to do with that fact that 95% of the browser market won't have an upgrade available. Microsft refuses to make its browser compatible with standards that are going on a full decade old. Even if they would just fix the bugs that plague the current implementation of what they SAY they support, web designers would offer endless gratitude, but MS won't even do that much for their users.

      What they will instead do is this: Release the next version of Windows (Longhorn) with IE 7, an integrated web browser containing all of the bells and whistles that made Firefox semi-popular, including tabbed browsing and easy-to-write extensions, and improved web standards support. Also thrown in will probably be a new forms implementation. After the new OS has been out for 3 or 4 months, MS will release IE 6.9 or so for XP and Mac OS X that's really just IE 7 with a couple of key features (like tabbed browsing) removed.

      Users will forget that Firefox ever existed because the new IE will do basically everything that Firefox did only faster. There will no longer be a big incentive to switch, even if it is relatively painless. IE will do what they need it to, and it's already there, so they'll use it. There's even a good chance that the new IEs will break many websites, but hardly anyone will complain. After all, people forgot pretty quickly when XP and it's SP2 broke hundreds of legacy applications, they certainly won't complain about websites which can be easily fixed overnight.

      Once IEs 6.9 and 7 take over the lion's share of the browser market, web sites will host tutorials on how to use the new IE features (including MS Forms) and web developers will quickly adopt them in their own applications. The only catch is that many of these new IE features (such as the new forms) will be difficult or impossible to clone by third parties like Mozilla and Opera. These browsers that hold the minority in market share will be ignored by web application developers just like they are today because "everybody uses IE."

      And Microsoft will have won the browser war again.
  • Ok, the way I'm interpreting, "more sophisticated forms," is more hours spent trying to code websites to be compatible across different browsers. More hours spent adding and debugging code to check for the existence of support for a particular, "standard." More hours spent writing parallel code for users who support the new, "standard," and for users who don't. As well as yet another access point for virus writers to potentially exploit.

    I like pretty forms to look at as much as the next user, but I'd rath

  • Blasphemy! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Otter ( 3800 ) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @08:59PM (#11731684) Journal
    A breakaway faction of the World Wide Web consortium (W3C) called WHAT-WG, or the Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group...

    Sorry, I'm holding out for the WHAT-WJD!

  • by Anonymous Coward
    The last 2-3 years the W3C has been so caught up in retarded politics that it's out lived it's usefullness. Rather than focusing on stuff people want like webservices, they've been focusing on semantic bullshit and RDF crap. I hear their funding is seriously going to get yanked because they haven't produced much. The pressure is on, but I think the W3C is clogged by beaurocratic BS.
  • Storm in a teacup? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Hortensia Patel ( 101296 ) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @09:04PM (#11731707)
    Sound to me as if someone either missed the cluetrain, was having a slow news day and decided to invent a crisis, or swallowed some Microsoft FUD without checking his facts.

    From the Web Forms 2.0 draft spec []:

    "This specification is in no way aimed at replacing XForms 1.0 [XForms], nor is it a subset of XForms 1.0.

    XForms 1.0 is well suited for describing business logic and data constraints. Web Forms 2.0 aims to simplify the task of transforming XForms 1.0 systems into documents that can be rendered on HTML Web browsers that do not support XForms."

    The Web Forms proposal is hugely important precisely because it can be implemented for IE using a "standard library" of client-side script. It won't be quite as nice as native implementations, but it'll work. It's the first evolutionary proposal I've seen that actually makes allowance for the festering carcass of IE holding everybody else back.
    • The problem comes in from the splitting of resources between XForms and Web Forms 2. Browser developers aren't necessarily going to work on both, so one will get implemented and the other wont, at least in the short term.

      Time is an issue, because Microsoft's solution is possibly only a year away.

      So while the Web Forms 2 crowd say there's no conflict in their FAQ, implementers are being put in the position of having to make a decision.
    • Web Forms is to XForms as Windows was to OS/2.

      XForms is The Right Thing; Web Forms is Worse Is Better.

      That's my general impression from the little I've read. XForms is loaded with coolness, but the spec is huge and it pulls in bits of other complex specifications, like XML Schema and XPath (as I recall). It's not straightforward to implement and that's a problem: witness the state of support for CSS 2.1 (let alone CSS 3).

      Personally, I'm a fan of Worse is Better. We can have improved forms now and ev
      • by elbobo ( 28495 ) on Monday February 21, 2005 @12:21AM (#11733103)
        CSS 2.1 and 3 are actually not necessarily all that complex. Although for implementers there's probably a reasonable degree of complexity in covering the breadth of what's defined as possible with CSS3.

        I like taking a pragmatic stance where necessary, so Worse Is Better has its place in my mind. But I don't believe this is one of those places, primarily because one of WHAT-WG's defining mantras is backwards compatibility in IE. Backwards compatibility in other browsers isn't a concern, because they have the developers of them on board. So they're specifically tailored their specs to be backwards compatible in IE. This stunts the potential considerably.

        We know from what Microsoft have repeatedly said (or rather, not said) that IE will not be implementing any more of the currently standing W3C specs. IE is a dead leaf on the standards tree. So why try and drag it along for *just* *one* *more* iteration, at the expense of functionality and cleanliness across the board?

        It strikes me as short sighted. All it does is delay the inevitable split between Microsoft's browser and everyone else's. It buys a couple of years, maybe. But eventually the time will come where either the other browsers give in and implement whatever technologies Microsoft have forced into de facto standards (XAML?), or they shore up their strengths, stick together, and win the web back with standards. Thus forcing Microsoft to implement the standards in order to stop the shrinking of IE's market share.

        By making this next iteration work in IE (and in turn stunting it), they're actually sabotaging their position in that future inevitable split. Short sighted.
    • "..... Web Forms 2.0 aims to simplify the task of transforming XForms 1.0 systems into documents that can be rendered on HTML Web browsers that do not support XForms."

      OK: So this backs up my gut feeling that allowing both is actually a good thing. XForms is for peoplw willing to go to a brand new browser, and WebForms provides a backup method for people staying with old browsers, while smoothing the road for the final move to a pure XForms platform.

      I'm actually getting a feeling that the problem is wit

  • Most of the big standards that the W3C has published to date are more about documenting and unify existing technologies that have already emerged (i.e. HTML, XML, RDF). This XFroms thing would seem to be the first major thing they have tried to pioneer where all the major vendors have their own interests at stake.

    I would be expecting more solidarity from the Mozilla side of things but I guess there is big business there too now. The web is about sharing where business is about Darwinism. This sort of probl
    • As for XForms, what can you do with them that you can't do already? Less Javascript perhaps? Is that worth having to support 3 separate technologies?

      Heck, yeah.

      Until you've had to author a complex, generic, forms toolkit for an inflexible organization that refuses to allow any applications that aren't XHTML and Javascript, you'll never truly understand how necessary this is.

      The way I see it, there are three possibilities:

      1. Organizations will stop trying to use the web browser as a user interface to
  • by Anonymous Writer ( 746272 ) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @09:08PM (#11731730)
    None of these companies or organisations are going to dictate what the used standard will be. As usual, it will be the porn industry :P

  • "The good thing about standards is that there are so many to choose from." -- Andrew S. Tanenbaum
  • XUL? XAML?? Flash??? (Score:4, Informative)

    by idlake ( 850372 ) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @09:15PM (#11731773)
    XUL and XAML are general markup languages for GUIs. And Flash is a complete runtime.
    The notion that XUL and XAML are substitutes for a forms standard makes about as much sense as saying that a C compiler is a replacement for a web browser: just add a little bit of code yourself. I guess we should count our blessings that at least they aren't proposing to use Java.

    XForms is specifically for forms: things you fill in and submit. XForms also has facilities for off-line filling and mailing of forms. We need a standard like that.

    Having said that, I find neither XForms nor Web Forms 2.0 particulary persuasive. XForms suffers from second system effect: there is just too much of it. And Web Forms 2.0 seems like a mess; reliance on JavaScript is a no-no.

    Thanks, but not thanks: everybody should go back to the drawing board. Maybe in another few years, they'll come back with something reasonable.
  • Give me a break (Score:2, Interesting)

    by FyberOptic ( 813904 )
    This is exactly what I've been talking to lately with people about the W3C. They're becoming useless. They have these factions and everyone wants things done one way or another, nobody agrees, and nothing gets done to help the people. And like in this case, it only creates new problems.

    And they apparently won't even consider taking any of Microsoft's adaptations to the standards into consideration, even though many times some of these changes are actual improvements. IE is such a superpower that the on
  • Priorities. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Asprin ( 545477 ) <(gsarnold) (at) (> on Sunday February 20, 2005 @09:22PM (#11731818) Homepage Journal

    Mozilla, Opera and Apple are allied? I don't even have to know what it's about to know which side I'm on.
  • [What follow are my opinions.]

    This battle is barely on developer radar, as far as I know. Those on the bleeding edge are using .NET and/or XUL as per ideology and having a great time.

    The mantra for nine years has been that one needs to validate on the server, because the client can't be trusted.

    This comes down to servers vs. clients in the end... server manufacturers and server software publishers want to be able to control the whole pipeline through the standards, at the potential cost of breaking back

  • Task Force (Score:4, Funny)

    by AlexeiMachine ( 604654 ) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @09:50PM (#11731973)
    The WHAT-WG is more than a working group now. I fact, they're an actual task force!

    Let's hear it for the WHAT-TF
  • What trouble? (Score:2, Informative)

    by mnemonic_ ( 164550 )
    A breakaway faction of the World Wide Web consortium (W3C) called WHAT-WG

    According to the WHAT-WG page [], "Many of the members of this working group are active supporters and members of the W3C..." So it seems they themselves do not see WHAT-WG as a "breakaway faction."

    And if they actually rejected the W3C, why are they planning to submit their proposal through the standard W3C pipeline? Why not attempt to bypass or ignore it? If WHAT-WG are against the W3C, they would not be planning to cooperate with
  • by ChicagoDave ( 644806 ) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @10:06PM (#11732140) Homepage
    A truly paranoid person might believe that all the way back in 1995, Microsoft saw The Internet, installed The Browser, and did Two Things. The first plan was to adopt The Browser paradigm and do it well. The second plan was to start trying to figure out how to move The Customer back to Windows. This has manifested itself in ActiveX Controls first, and now in little over a year, Longhorn with XAML.

    We know what a rotting piece of tripe ActiveX was. We shall say no more on that subject.

    What do we think will happen with Longhorn and XAML though? Let's speculate!

    First of all, I think Longhorn will arrive without Internet Explorer technology embedded into the OS. I still think they will have some html rendering technology in the OS, but it won't be as ugly and insecure as their current Windows incarnations.

    I think the .NET Framework 3.0 will be 10 times bigger than 2.0, probably close to a gig in disk space required. Within this not so tiny nut will be all of the necessary compiled components required to render a Windows application from managed code.

    Then XAML. You will then be able to click on .xaml files in any browser on a Longhorn machine and control will transfer from the browser to the OS+.NET 3.0 where that xaml code will turn into managed code and render a fully functional and current Windows application.

    In looking at XForms, Web Forms 2.0, and then speculating on the nature of Longhorn and XAML, and knowing many business customers as well as I do, I think Microsoft will win a large mindshare of the the Fortune 500.

    After that it's all a big toss up because below the "enterprise application level" you could mix and match any of the upcoming technologies.

    I almost see a splinter in two directions. The Browser will maintain all e-commerce and global corporation applications and Microsoft will still strongly support this area of development.

    But where departmental and Intranet applications come in to play, Longhorn and XAML will win a ton of new development and lock out the newer web technologies.

    The simple truth is that most users can't stand web applications. They don't mind doing their online banking in them, but if they're working in the treasury department of a bank, they prefer Windows applications (or office type apps built into Excel or Access).

    Anyway, this all hinges on Longhorn being locked down and enormously secure. I think that's the #1 key to its and XAML's success. If MS can pull that off, the W3C people and its splinter groups have a whole other thing to worry about. If Longhorn comes out flaky and insecure, XAML will take years to gain any headway and none of this will matter.

    But if I were on the W3C board, I would be hedging bets that XAML and Longhorn will succeed and start planning on how that will play in future efforts. I don't see XForms or Web Forms 2.0 competing with XAML though. Something else will have to do that.

    Note: It's just speculation!
  • by mdubinko ( 459807 ) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @10:17PM (#11732219) Homepage
    I happen to have recently surveyed [] XForms engines, and at least two of them under development run entirely within the client, in the style of gmail, Google Maps, Flickr, etc.

    Modern browsers are up to this, it just takes a (one-time) engineering effort, treating JavaScript as a full programming language.

    Of course, if browsers like Mozilla natively support [] XForms, all the better. -m
  • I'm new to this, but this is what I understand to be the problem:

    Current situation: firefox is ascendent, with other browsers making up ground as well. It's the first time in years that the consumer has felt that browsers other than IE can do their job, and they're turning to alternatives because of new features they offer.

    One group in w3c (including Microsoft) are advocating a start-again approach to web forms. This is XForms.

    The other group fear that if that happens, in the confusion, Microsoft could p
  • For me it doesn't sound like too much trouble. It's just part of the evolution of HTML. The thing here is that they're submitting it to the W3C. Think of it as "instrumental regulations" vs. "wacky patents".

    In my case, i developed a very similar javascript which uses additional tags in html, to automate validation of html forms. I just add the tags saying how this number should be validated, etc etc.

    I read the web forms spec. It's cool, it even has regex testing. See, in the era of the XML-hype, there was
  • Third base (Score:5, Funny)

    by Sajma ( 78337 ) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @11:24PM (#11732743) Homepage
    Q: What's the name of your working group?
    A: Right.
    Q: "Right" is the name of your working group?
    A: No, WHAT is.
    Q: What is what?
    A: WHAT is the name of my working group.
    Q: That's what I just aksed you.
    A: No, that's what I just told you.
    Q: No, no -- just tell me the name of your working group!
    A: WHAT.
    Q: I said, tell me the name of your working group.
    A: WHAT.
    A: Right! But my name's not Dammit...
    (strangling noises)
  • Not War (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DeanEdwards22 ( 761579 ) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @11:44PM (#11732869)

    This is not a war. Many of the WHAT-WG members are also members of the W3C.

    The Web Forms 2.0 specification is an extension of the existing (and antiquated) HTML Forms specification. It adds some new elements and attributes some of which are alarming omissions from the original spec. Things like standardised date and number input controls will be a boon to web developers. XForms is a quite different technology. And it may be some time before it has the penetration to be a mainstream development tool. In the meantime, Web Forms 2.0, by extending existing HTML forms functionality gives developers a familiar framework to build on.

    If you are looking for any political angle then notice that Microsoft are not represented in the members list. [I can assure you that they were invited.] The WHATWG are about web applications. We need a standardised extension to HTML to stave off the immediate threat of XAML. Web Forms 2.0 and the upcoming Web Apps 1.0 are meant to do just that.

  • XForms (Score:3, Interesting)

    by zemoo ( 582445 ) on Monday February 21, 2005 @02:50AM (#11733867) Homepage
    People keep saying that none of the browsers (especially IE support XForms so it will never take off.

    What they fail to realize is that XForms is not necessarily a client-side technology and can be used *right now* in ALL major browsers.

    Take a look at Chiba [] for a server-side implementation that works pretty well. No plugins to install!

"The Avis WIZARD decides if you get to drive a car. Your head won't touch the pillow of a Sheraton unless their computer says it's okay." -- Arthur Miller