The W3C acknowledges the Web Forms 2.0 Submission from Opera Software ASA and The Mozilla Foundation.
The Web Forms 2.0 Submission specifies extensions to the HTML 4.01 Forms chapter. As the content of this Submission is covered by existing W3C Working Groups the acknowledgement of the Submission was not straightforward. The W3C Team strongly recommend that future work should be in collaboration with the W3C HTML and XForms Working Groups in order to promote the development of a single community for improving forms on the Web. The W3C Team looks forward to working with Opera Software and The Mozilla Foundation to build consensus on unified approaches to forms and related Web technologies.
The Web Forms 2.0 Submission from Opera Software and The Mozilla Foundation extends the features found in the HTML 4.01 Forms chapter. HTML forms are an extremely popular and well-understood technology but have some limitations. These limitations include a lack of comprehensive data typing and client-side validation of form fields, the reliance on scripting for moderately complex tasks and the inability to specify the encoding of a form submission.
Web Forms 2.0 modifies existing HTML 4.01 features and also adds new features. An incomplete list of the modifications made to HTML 4.01 are summarized below:
Some of the features added by Web Forms 2.0, beyond HTML 4.01 form functionality, are summarized below:
The design goals for Web Forms 2.0 were that it should be backwards compatible with existing HTML user agents, if possible, and be implementable on devices with resource constraints.
The following W3C Activities operate in areas related to the Web Forms 2.0 Submission:
The HyperText Markup Language (HTML) Activity produces the XHTML specifications and maintains the HTML 4.01 specification.
As an extension to HTML, Web Forms 2.0 has a clear relationship to the HTML Activity.
The XForms Activity has developed a complete revision of HTML forms: the XForms 1.0 Recommendation. Interestingly, the XForms Working Group started in March 1999 with a similar set of requirements and a similar approach to Web Forms 2.0. The Working Group concluded that this approach did not provide adequate improvement over existing HTML 4.01 forms technology and that a new design was needed (resulting in XForms).
Given that both XForms and Web Forms 2.0 are replacements for HTML forms, it is possible to consider them as competing technologies.
This response only lists non-technical comments on the Web Forms 2.0 Submission.
The acknowledgement of this Submission was not a straightforward decision for a number of reasons.
The W3C chartered the Forms Working Group in 1998 with the goal of improving HTML forms. This group started with a very similar approach as the Web Forms 2.0 Submission but concluded that it did not adequately address the requirements of the Web community (more background.) Furthermore, the consensus opinion of the members within the W3C HTML and Forms Working Groups is that the HTML 4.01 specification should not be extended in the way Web Forms 2.0 suggests. Rather, the Working Groups feel that the enhancements to HTML should be made in XHTML 2.0 and enhancements to HTML Forms have been provided by XForms (Requirements, Specification). Also, the authors of the Submission have at times promoted Web Forms 2.0 as competitor to the W3C XForms Recommendation.
The W3C Process suggests that Submissions that fall under the domain of an existing Working Group should not be acknowledged. Instead the work should be presented directly to the appropriate Working Group, in this case both the HTML and Forms Working Groups. However, given the amount of discussion regarding Web Forms 2.0 we felt it was best to acknowledge the Submission in order to promote the development of a single community for improving forms on the Web.
The W3C Team strongly recommend that future work in this area should be in collaboration with the HTML and XForms Working Groups.
Web Forms 2.0 makes some incremental improvements to existing HTML features and adds some substantial new features and behaviour. We recommend that Web Forms 2.0 be evolutionary in nature, as was originally planned, and move the more advanced features into a separate specification. For example:
We feel that the evolutionary approach we suggest will help adoption by users and provide a path for implementers to incrementally deliver the new features in user agents.
We recommend that the Web Forms 2.0 specification give detailed use cases and requirements for each new feature or incremental enhancement. If possible, it should describe existing options, the level of demand for each feature and the impact of not meeting the requirements (if the feature was not provided and a user was therefore required to use the existing HTML facility, possibly with scripting).
The W3C Team looks forward to working with the submitters to build consensus for unified approaches to forms and related Web technologies. The W3C Team and the submitters are currently investigating methods for collaboration. From this review of Web Forms 2.0, we recommend that Opera Software and The Mozilla Foundation: