eGovernance in India

Improving eGovernance in INDIA

Open Standard & Proprietary Standards on eForms

Posted by egovindia on June 26, 2006

Date: Mon, 26 Jun 2006 13:20:30 -0000
To: eGovINDIA@yahoogroups.com
From: "c_p_balu" <p.balu@nic.in>
Subject: Open Standard & Proprietary Standards on eForms

I submit the following observations on eForms for the kind considerations 
of all members; 
now many initiatives are considering use of eForms for all e-Governance projects; 
both Open Standard  & Proprietary Standards are available for eForms. 
The members are requested to consider & promote  the use of xForm which is based 
on Open standard & Open solution for eGovernance.   
A)    There are 3 common standards & solutions for e-Forms;  
i)   xForm + all standard-XML from W3C    
( Open Standard & No Royalty)  
ii)  pdf + arbitrary-XML from Adope      
(Proprietary Standard & License Fee)  
iii) Infopath + arbitrary-XML from MS      
(Proprietary Standard & License Fee)   
 
B)  Supports for Open Standard xForms from W3C Organisation:      
The support of various browsers including Firefox, Mozilla, Opera, IE, etc 
for xForm is given in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/XForms.      
OpenOffice-2.0 also supports xForm.     
Further xForm will be part of XHTML-2.0.     
Other implementations of xForm include the open source Chiba and Orbeon projects, 
both based on Ajax technology  
 
C) Comparison of Open & Proprietary Standards on eForms    
---------------------------------------------------- 
i) Similar, Different:  
How comparable is InfoPath to XForms? At a high level, 
both seek to overcome a similar challenge: 
translating user interaction into XML. 
Upon closer examination, however, the two technologies differ in focus, 
target audience, 
and scope.  ii) Focus:     
The InfoPath application is focused on providing a superb visual environment, 
of similar quality to the rest of the Microsoft Office System suite, 
for creating and filling out forms. 
In contrast, the XForms specification is designed to encourage 
implementations not to 
focus exclusively on visual media, but rather to define only the 
intent behind various data-gathering controls. 
The XForms specification gives implementations wide latitude in 
choices relating to 
how a particular form control can be implemented, though 
new CSS properties can 
narrow down the specific appearance of a form control. 
Additionally, while XForms is designed to be readily produced by automated tools, 
InfoPath appears to be put together in such a way that 
only mouse-designed forms are readily 
possible.  
 
iii) Target Audience:     
 
The recommended system requirements for InfoPath demand a fairly modern 
Intel-compatible 
computer: a Pentium III or better as well as Microsoft Windows 2000 
(with Service Pack 3) 
or greater. Further, the software is bundled only in the 
Enterprise version of Office System, 
which will in practice be most often used by larger, 
more Microsoft-committed organizations. 
By contrast, the XForms specification was designed to work on the
 broadest possible range 
of devices, from tiny phones and PDAs to beefy servers. 
XForms software is being made 
available in a variety of packages, both open source and commercial, 
on an assortment of platforms.  iv) Scope:     
 
XForms encourages development using a defined declarative XML syntax, 
while InfoPath, 
like HTML forms, continues to encourage the deployment of script. 
 
Some interesting differences are also found in the choices of form 
controls supported. 
For example, InfoPath includes ordered and unordered lists as a form control, 
but doesn't support the equivalent of a multiple selection or free entry select 
form control (combobox).  
v) A Word on Standards Used:  
InfoPath is built upon an impressive list of standard technologies, 
including WXS, DOM, and XSLT. For web developers modifying existing 
InfoPath content, such a design can be of great assistance. 
Other design decisions in InfoPath, 
however, tend to reduce the ability to use InfoPath with 
non-Microsoft browsers, platforms, 
or servers. For example, any investment in designing InfoPath solutions can 
be difficult to recoup in the face of changing to a different set of tools, 
no matter how standards-compliant they are.  
 
 D) Further Details at  
http://www.xml.com/lpt/a/2003/10/29/infopath.html  
http://www.w3.org/MarkUp/Forms/  
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/XForms  
----------------------------------------------------------------------  
With best regards & Thanks.  
Dr. P. Balasubramanian  
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