W3C hails Web-based forms standard

Web standards body the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has finalized a specification for next-generation Web-based forms used for e-commerce transactions.

The XForms 1.0 Recommendation combines the ability to separate purpose, presentation, and results with Extensible Markup Language (XML) in Web-based forms, according to W3C. The specification is viewed by W3C as a successor to HTML forms, which the organization believes are limited in their use on systems such as cell phones, handheld devices, and screen readers.

Forms authors, W3C said, are now looking to minimize scripting and maximize reuse of form components as well as separate the purpose, presentation, and results of a form. XForms, which are already being implemented, give authors more power and flexibility while improving user experience, W3C said. These forms split traditional HTML forms into three parts: the XForms model, instance data, and the XForms user interface. Presentation is separated from content.

“[XForms is] very successful even now at this early stage. We probably have 30 implementations already,” said Steven Pemberton, chairman of the XForms Working Group.

Use of XML in XForms provides for well-formed and easy-to-validate data, internationalization of data, editing of XML documents; integration with Web services and use of existing XML schemas from business processes, W3C said.

XForms uses XML Events, another W3C technology being released this week, to define XML-based declarative event handlers that cover common use cases, enabling the majority of XForms documents to be statistically analyzed, reducing the need for scripting for event handlers.

XForms Basic, a subset of XForms specifically intended for mobile devices, currently is going through the W3C review process.