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Here's my two cents on the subject.
In essence, what I find useful about xform is the capacity to edit an XML
document and send the modified version to a server for processing or
storage. What I find restrictive is that the actual form objects are very
limited and poor. For example, recently I had to edit data organized as a
hierarchy. The natural widget to do so is a tree View as found in Microsoft
explorer. The model representation to be edited is encoded in XML. The
problem with Xform is that in its actual form I cannot edit the data with
something more sophisticated than a text box or any other widget mirrored on
The model declaration part and the capacity to edit an XML document are
A very limited set of widgets.
In some contexts, a less abstract language is needed and layout information
has to be provided. Higher level as in HTML (flow layout) or more specific
as in SVG (position based layout).
Maybe the solution is to create a set of specification for abstract pattern
of interactions, for example:
Select one element from a list,
Select several elements form a list,
Browse and edit a tree representation,
Browse and edit a table representation,
Enter rich format text,
What is abstract is the interaction pattern, what is specific is the
implementation. We probably need for user interface what we got for domain
modeling. Some people in CHI call these patterns: interaction patterns.
Didier PH Martin