Re: XForms mark the spot

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From: Adam Rifkin -4K (
Date: Tue Jul 11 2000 - 14:26:56 PDT

Mark Kuharich wrote:
> The XForms working group of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) meets this
> week to begin the final steps in overhauling the HTML forms we use on
> websites. Specifications for the current forms in use on the Web were
> introduced in 1993 and most Web developers are calling for improved
> standards and functionality as e-commerce expands and Web access moves off
> of the desktop-only platform

The following are Old Bits (TM), but I figured that it's okay to post
Old Bits if I stroke Rohit's ego a little by pointing out that a few
months ago Rohit wrote a pair of excellent articles on "How <FORM>
Functions" and "Transforming XForms":

As pennance for posting Old Bits, here are some new bits. Jakob Nielsen
just published a piece on the WAP Backlash starting in Europe:

I love how Nielsen doesn't sugarcoat it: "WAP has miserable usability
for many reasons: ridiculously small screens, slow bandwidth, and the
need to place a new call every time the device needs to connect. The
digits-only keypad is a laughable input device, leading to the guideline
to use numeric PIN codes instead of full passwords any time
authentication is required. Also, the actual telephones vary in their
design and sometimes have poor human factors that don't deliver as good
a user experience as would be possible under the given constraints.

"Because of these many weaknesses, designers of WAP services have
concluded that they need to OPTIMIZE EACH SERVICE FOR EACH OF THE
DIFFERENT TELEPHONES and its specific restrictions and interaction
techniques. Designing a separate service for each handset model is
necessary: the weaker the platform, the more it becomes necessary to
squeeze every last bit of usability out of it by having a tightly
targeted and optimized design.

FOR WAP THAN FOR CONVENTIONAL BROWSERS. Much of the early success of the
Web was due to the simplicity of development where you could design a
single website and have it work across platforms. The browser wars
taught us that websites don't want the expense of having to maintain
multiple versions. Another point against WAP."

Of course, Nielsen has been pointing out defects of WAP since October:

Nice to know that what was once a bold and unapologetic position in
April 1999...

 ... is now converging on Conventional Wisdom (TM).

Sorry, Rohit, guess it's time for you to move on to be bold and
unapologetic in another space. May I suggest for
starters? :)

[Postscript to Rohit: I found your song: track 3 on Dr. Dre's "Chronic 2001."]

[Postscript to Mark Baker: Thanks muchly buddy, we have liftoff...]


.sig jackpot!!! 16 quotes comin' on out... best of "Quotes about XML in 1999"... For the full list, see:

I predicted that the Internet would collapse every year between 1988 and 1993 inclusive. Still looks shaky to me, but you get tired of being wrong all the time. -- Tim Bray on the xml-dev mailing list, 1/28/99

It's amazing how much you can do with a search engine - and it's also amazing how much you can't do with a search engine. -- Tim Berners-Lee, "W3C's Berners-Lee urges agent-readable Web sites",

One of every 500 million people, give or take a million, is likely to ever run into even ONE Chinese character that is not already among the approximately 25,000 of them encoded in Unicode today. Most learned people do not know even 6,000 characters. You could enumerate Chinese characters forever and never reach the end - I'll grant that. However, you could also *READ* Chinese forever and never run into any of the supposed 50,000 or 80,000 or whatever thousand there are. And even if you did run into one, chance are you could look it up only to find that no dictionary exists which could tell you what it means. -- Rick McGowan on the Unicode mailing list, 4/10/99

The slow uptake speeds and the bugs and inconsistencies in advanced browser features constitute a cloud with a distinct silver lining: Recognizing that we are stuck with old technology for some time frees sites from being consumed by technology considerations and focuses them on content, customer service, and usability. Back to basics indeed: that's what sells since that's what users want. -- Jakob Nielsen, "Stuck With Old Browsers Until 2003",

Navigator 5 was a doomed product. Netscape wrote Navigator 0.9 from scratch in less than a year and never rewrote it. They moved from version to version, piling on features. Nobody ever said, "Stop! Lots of things have changed since 1.0. We need to redesign stuff!" Things were starting to break down by Navigator 3.0. Netscape needed to step back, reassess their product, and take the time for a major overhaul. But they were under attack by Microsoft and didn't dare to skip a browser generation. Navigator 5 was still based on the original codebase. It was full of #ifdefs, Win16 support, fake multithreading hacks and layers of useless code. -- Eric Kidd,$5279

The most useless language features are those where the interpretation is completely up to the software. The most useful features are those that either have a well defined underlying data model *or* a well-defined processing model. XML notations are useless not because they are a bad idea but because nobody has defined the data model or processing implications of the associated system identifier. -- Paul Prescod on the xml-dev mailing list, 5/19/99

XSL is DSSSL in sheep's clothing, an SGML transformation and formatting language that an ISO committee worked on for eight years, producing finally a language specification and an utterly heroic and breathtaking but incomplete implementation by James Clark that years of real world experience has shown to be incomprehensible and unusable to nearly everyone in the document transformation and formatting business. XSL is DSSSL, it is 100% DSSSL concepts and processing model, with some syntax changes and some attempt to merge with CSS. -- Michael Leventhal, "XSL is an Ugly, Difficult Language",",

Software is largely a service industry operating under the persistent but unfounded delusion that it is a manufacturing industry. -- Eric Raymond,

I think if you crossed Greenspun and that David Siegel guy and took out the splash pages and exit tunnels, you'd actually have a visually appealing, navigable website with content. -- Robert Gruber on the mailing list, 6/25/99

We have not submitted XML-RPC to W3C. If they loosen up their membership rules and allow individuals to be involved without paying a fee we'll be happy to work with them. Some compromise is needed. Right now all the implementations come from either small companies or individuals, they're doing excellent work, and it would be stupid of us to hand this over to W3C without a change in their way of working. I understand that they need money to operate, but also am aware that this cuts them off from excellent work being done in the open source and scripting worlds. -- Dave Winer on the xml-dev mailing list, 7/8/99

The W3C approach is probably optimal for the design and development of sample advanced technology, especially when it addresses problems two or three years ahead of current products, while the IETF approach is far better for actual standardization. -- John C. Klensin,

The structure of the W3C didn't lend itself to quite the degree of freedom to contribute that the IETF does. We found it difficult to get points across and to influence what was happening. -- Vint Cerf,",

XML 1.0 was a guerilla project by a bunch of people who'd known each other for years and very few of whom had management that understood what it was really about. -- Tim Bray on the xml-dev list, 9/24/99

I could take (the Net) for granted, because of the clean design of what was underneath. All these people had done all that work. The important thing was that the Internet was designed so you could use it for anything. And that's also important about the Web. We should keep the design very clean so we can build anything on top of the Web. -- Tim Berners-Lee, SJ Merc News, 10/18/99

DTDs and other schemata can be useful (I would have less error-checking code in FOP if I used a validating parser), but I agree that a myth has arisen that DTDs (and especially schemata in new schema languages) do a lot more than they actual do. My favourite myth is that a schema tells you what an XML document means. -- James Tauber on the xml-dev mailing list, 11/18/99

I'm beginning to think that we should have written into the spec an express prohibition against land-grab attempts on the address function of the namespace name. The notion that a single URL can address the One True Schema Which Will Meet All Needs is demonstrably, empirically, absolutely wrong. -- Tim Bray on the xml-dev mailing list, 12/29/99

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