Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Great success of the XForms Evening at the XML 2007 conference

John Boyer introducing the XForms Evening

We had great success with the XForms Evening a the XML 2007 conference on Monday. We were wondering if people would really want to attend sessions that late in the evening (from 7:30 to 9:00 PM), but the attendance beat our expectations, with easily over 60 people cramped in the allocated room and some actually standing.

The initial feedback we are getting is excellent. I believe that the format of the sessions was one of the reasons for this: it consisted in having a one and a half hour session on a specific topic (XForms) but split into a series of very short 15-minute presentations by different speakers. This made it almost impossible to bore the audience, and also constrained the speakers to be concise and to the point. So kudos to the organizers, in particular to our working group chair, John Boyer, for making this happen.

The main point of my presentation was that with XForms and eXist, you don't need a middle tier for a wide category of applications: XForms can directly talk to the persistence layer, in this case eXist, with xforms:submission and REST, while providing all the CRUD and search operations (through XQuery). This point resonated with other speakers' point of view as well.

Elliotte Rusty Harold ended the evening with an excellently delivered but provocative keynote about what XForms proponents need to do to ensure the sucess of XForms. At Orbeon, we disagree with Elliotte's contention that it is necessary to bring XForms natively to the web browser:

  • After all, Java, PHP and Ruby are a success today on the web without being delivered to the browser.

  • XForms implemented as a combination of server-side and client-side software in fact has considerable benefits, such as ensuring the security of the data handled by your application, ease of upgrade, and especially the fact that this allows to deliver XForms today to mainstream web browsers.

  • Finally, XForms as a forms technology (as opposed to a general-purpose UI technology) fills a huge gap in the industry. This, along with quality implementations (among which we hope Orbeon Forms stands) able to deliver XForms to the web, will secure its future.

You can read the Forms Working Group's short debriefing in our meeting notes for today, and the slides of my talk are available on slideshare.

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