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Ten Favorite XForms Engines
by Micah Dubinko | Pages: 1, 2

Novell XForms Technology Preview

As part of the Novell exteNd suite (formerly SilverStream software), XForms is playing a major role in their software to interact with web services, relational databases, and other data sources. Their first released XForms engine is a Java application that runs as a browser, one of the three main engines recorded in the XForms Implementation Report used to advance XForms to Proposed Recommendation (see the Related Links section below for more).

Screen shot.
The Novell engine rendering a the scriptless equivalent of a pocket calculator.

Orbeon Open XML Framework

Orbeon describes OXF as a "transformation framework", part of a system to create J2EE applications with minimal additional Java coding required. It uses XForms along with XSLT, XQuery, SQL, and web services interfaces as building blocks that together can compose an entire application.

Screen shot.
Screen shot of a sample OXF document, showing the form controls next to the resulting XML.

Oracle engine

Unlike classic HTML forms, XForms are designed to be supported on a wide variety of devices that might not be able to support a full JavaScript engine, including mobile phones. Oracle has produced an (unreleased) application that renders XForms documents within the confines of a small monochrome display. The following screen show shows the application running in a desktop phone emulator and is reproduced here with permission.

Screen shot.
Screen shot of a phone emulator displaying an XForms trigger control

Ripcord Technology nForms

nForms is a browser-delivered technology that enables XForms processing on the client (currently IE6-only). The site includes a number of illustrative examples that show the system in operation.

Screen shot.
Screen shot of a sample nForms document, showing a simple form next to the resulting XML.

University of Helsinki X-Smiles

X-Smiles, a complete browser written in Java, originated in 1998 as a university project. It has since taken on a life of its own, including support for XForms, XSLT, XSL formatting objects, SMIL, and SVG. The project supports a wide variety of Java versions, including small device and PDA configurations. X-Smiles is one of the three engines referenced in the XForms Implementation Report.

Screen shot.
Screen shot of X-Smiles rendering a document used to create UBL documents.

x-port FormsPlayer

FormsPlayer has its roots in a travel-based application x-port was developing for a client. In due course, the developers realized that what they needed was already provided by the then in-progress XForms specification, so they shifted their efforts to producing a general-purpose XForms plugin for IE6. FormsPlayer has an active mailing list where frequent updates are announced, rapidly converging on the final XForms specification. FormsPlayer is the third engine referred to by the XForms Implementation Report.

Screen shot.
FormsPlayer rendering a form that links together two Web Services.

Honorable Mention: Microsoft InfoPath

Microsoft InfoPath, part of the Office 2003 System, offers similar functionality to many of the applications listed here. Microsoft's application sports a fantastic user interface for end users, despite an insistence on providing layout through nested tables. The internal format InfoPath uses, however, is an XSLT-generated modified version of XHTML, not XForms.

A future article will provide a more in-depth comparison between InfoPath and XForms engines.

Related Links

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  1. xslt2xforms, XForms processor
    2004-10-13 07:15:37 scramatte
  2. Sterling Commerce web extensions implements XForms
    2003-10-06 06:50:48 Jim Magill
  3. Conversion
    2003-09-15 08:36:04 Robin Berjon
  4. May want to check out xmlform.org
    2003-09-14 18:25:33 Ivelin Ivanov
  5. XForms Doomed?
    2003-09-13 07:03:52 Clinton Gallagher
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