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   Challenge : An XML Form-Filling system for the WWW

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  • To: <xml-dev@lists.xml.org>
  • Subject: Challenge : An XML Form-Filling system for the WWW
  • From: "Dimitris Pantazopoulos" <dgp@hotech.gr>
  • Date: Tue, 11 Nov 2003 10:51:39 +0200


This is a reply to the mail posted by Didier PH Martin
on 5 Nov 03 concerning the challenge of implementing a
form validation system using XML, XSLT and...a

My name is Dimitris Pantazopoulos and I have designed
and implemented such a form-filling validation system
as my MSc work titled "An XML Form-Filling System for
the WWW" at the University of Edinburgh under the
supervision of prof. Henry S. Thompson two years ago
(Oct 2001).

Our implementation uses the following basic

   - HTML forms filled with XML data.
   - XML to transfer/store form data/validation rules.
   - XSLT to render the forms along with their XML
data in HTML format.
   - The notion of transclusion and XLink to mix the
HTML form representation with the XML data entered in
the form itself.

It is rather difficult to extensively describe the
whole project in a single email but I believe the
following remarks will help you understand what this
all about:

   - Think of form objects (textboxes, checkboxes etc)
as "holes" or empty placeholders which can be filled
with data. An empty form is a set
of empty "holes". Each "hole" has a set of validation
rules depending on its nature (i.e. the type of

  - Validation rules and form objects are all formally
described in a DTD document.

   - When the "holes" are filled with data and the
form is submitted an XML document can be created to
hold the data entered along with the appropriate
description of their linking with the originating form
(using XLink) and their validation rules.

   - The next time the form is requested its "holes"
can be filled with the XML data retrieved from the
existing XML document. The two parts (i.e. the form
and the XML data) are transformed into a single XML
document (a process that prof. Henry S. Thompson calls
"Transclusion") and are rendered into
pure HTML via an appropriate XSLT document.

   - The XSLT also produces the appropriate
client-side code implementation of the applicable
validation rules.

This is a two years old project but I would be very
pleased to provide you with detailed information if
you are further interested in it.

Hope this helps,
Dimitris Pantazopoulos
dgp@hotech.gr (use this one if replying to the mailing list)


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