World Wide Web Consortium Issues First Public Working Draft of XForms Data Model

Author(s) and publish date


Next Generation Web Forms Separate Purpose from Presentation

Testimonials -- 18 April 2000 -- The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) announced the release of the first Public Working Draft of the XForms Data Model. The XForms Data Model Working Draft, along with the XForms Requirements document, provide the first cross-industry efforts in seven years to produce the next generation of Web-based forms.

W3C Is Building a Better Web Form

When HTML Forms were introduced to the Web in 1993, they provided a means to gather information and perform transactions. The structure of forms served the needs of many users at that time, as well as the devices used to access the Web.

Seven years later, the Web is a space where hundreds of millions of users expect to use many different devices to perform increasingly complex transactions, many of which exceed the limitations of the original forms technology.

The W3C HTML Working Group has a charter to develop a form archictecture that provides a better match to workflow and database applications, to the proliferation of new Web-enabled devices, and to the XML-driven Web.

The XForms Subgroup has accepted the challenge and produced a forms architecture that separates data modeling, logic, and presentation. The XForms Data Model has emerged as the first in a series of XForms specifications.

XForms Data Model Separates Purpose from Presentation

XForms aims to ease the transition of the Web from HTML to XML. As XHTML 1.0 allows HTML content authors to make a smooth entry into the XML world, XForms allow Web application authors to combine the modularity of XML with the simplicity of HTML to gain key advantages in the areas of device independence, accessibility, business-to-business and consumer e-commerce, and embedded devices.

The XForms Data Model deliberately separates the purpose of a form from its presentation. This allows the application author to rigorously define the form data, independent of how end-users interact with the application. The separation facilitates the development of Web applications with user interaction components, and provides advantages to Web application developers.

XForms Deliver Structured Data, Device Independence

In the XForms suite of specifications, the rules for describing, validating, and submitting application data are expressed in XML, as well as the submitted data. By providing the rules and data in XML, XForms lays the foundation for combinations with other XML applications, supporting the extensible Web.

Separating purpose and presentation also makes device independence easier to achieve by allowing Web application authors to write the data model once for all devices. Because the data model is not tied to presentation, developers may customize the presentation in a way that best suits each device's user interface. Support for device independence paves the way for a Web that is accessible to all users.

XForms Implementations, Drafts, in Progress

The XForms subgroup is producing early implementations of XForms, to determine requirements and test ideas for the specification. Examples are available from the XForms page. Other members of the subgroup have committed to implementing XForms in their products.

The XForms Data Model is the first in a series of XForms specifications. Other XForms work focuses on the logic layer - identifying relationships and dependencies between data model fields - and on the presentation aspects.


About the World Wide Web Consortium [W3C]

The W3C was created to lead the Web to its full potential by developing common protocols that promote its evolution and ensure its interoperability. It is an international industry consortium jointly run by the MIT Laboratory for Computer Science (MIT LCS) in the USA, the National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Control (INRIA) in France and Keio University in Japan. Services provided by the Consortium include: a repository of information about the World Wide Web for developers and users, reference code implementations to embody and promote standards, and various prototype and sample applications to demonstrate use of new technology. To date, over 410 organizations are Members of the Consortium. For more information see


Contact America --
Janet Daly, <>, +1.617.253.5884 or +1.617.253.2613
Contact Europe --
Carine Rigaud <>, +
Christelle Moraga <>, +
Contact Asia --
Yuko Watanabe <>, +81.466.49.1170

Testimonials for W3C XForms Data Model Working Draft

Cardiff Software | JetForm | PureEdge | Stack Overflow | Xerox


Cardiff is very pleased to offer editorial resources in the XML Forms standardization work. The publication of XForms as a W3C Recommendation will mark an important milestone in the history of the Web--a legacy-free and non-proprietary standard for form data interchange and presentation. Industry support will greatly increase the customer value of eForms, including XHTML, Adobe PDF, and even paper forms. We see XForms as a key component of our broader XML strategy.

-- Micah Dubinko, Chief XML Architect, Cardiff Software Inc.


By keeping the data separate from the form, XForms significantly facilitates B2B e-commerce. As one of the founding contributors to this specification, JetForm shares the same design philosophy and with very minor adjustments, our XML-based e-forms products are in full alignment with the XForms specification.

-- Gavin McKenzie, Chief Architect of XML Forms Architecture, JetForm


As the first vendor to deliver an open protocol and product suite for legally-binding XML forms on the Internet, we are proud to be part of the W3C and a founding member of the XForms initiative. We are excited about XForms and believe that it validates our vision of XML as the most powerful format for interactive documents on the Internet. The digitally-signed XFDL documents provided by our InternetForms Commerce System, used in combination with standardized XForms data, will provide a powerful combination for next-generation e-commerce applications.

-- David Manning, CTO, PureEdge Solutions


XForms is the missing link to Web interactivity. The purpose of XForms is to merge XML-based back-end solutions with the simplicity of HTML. We will strive to enable the immediate use of XForms with Stack Overflow's Mozquito Technology in today's browsers and in Web-enabled devices.

-- -- Sebastian Schnitzenbaumer, CEO, Stack Overflow AG and co-editor of XForms: Data Model


For the Web to become a truly ubiquitous computing interface, it must move beyond the desktop. XForms and other W3C open standards will make it easy to create and to use rich, interactive Web documents and services on a wide variety of user interfaces -- graphical, voice, and paper. Our Xerox Document Centre, FlowPort, and DocuShare products will continue to leverage the power of these standards to deliver valuable document services to customers in whatever form they choose.

-- Leigh Klotz, Jr., Director of Technology, Document Messaging, Xerox Corporation

Related RSS feed