[whatwg] Re: XUL, richness, & XForms (was : Re: Weblogs /Newsreader as web app workflow example ...)

David Hyatt hyatt at apple.com
Mon Jan 10 22:30:55 PST 2005

Yes, I agree.  We have been brainstorming XUL2 for some time now, and 
much of what you have suggested is in our list.

(hyatt at apple.com)

Bill McCoy wrote:

>Yes I greatly admire XUL and Firefox has become my home browser and is in
>danger of becoming my work browser so I accept that it's
>industrial-strength. For widgets & layout of GUI chrome, XUL is clearly a
>reasonable approach. And a pure XForms+SVG implementation would lack that
>layer of widget-level markup and associating formatting capabilities
>(springs/struts etc.). You need dynamic layouts not just fixed-format which
>is SVG's forte. And you need more than generic controls like <xf:select1>.
>I've never written more than toy XUL programs, so I greatly  hesitate to
>comment on XUL, especially to you Dave. But FWIW I believe XUL has suffered
>from not having a rich imaging model underneath it, so despite innovating
>XBL and the "shadow tree" concept, and receiving the flattery of imitation
>by Flash Flex, XAML, and others, XUL itself was/is a bit constrained, e.g.
>in terms of what custom widgets can be created within the architecture (vs.
>natively). SVG/sXBL could fix this part. XUL also suffers from not having a
>strong built-in way to reference and bind from presentation layer to XML
>data models, and to define constraints on the data models rather than at the
>presentation level, in order to foster creation of declarative model-view
>solutions. XForms fixes this and I believe there's no conflict that would
>impair richness of XUL in combination (I believe David Birbeck has a version
>of formsPlayer that is based on XUL skins). XForms is not a complete
>solution, it's intended to be embedded in a hosting markup, and the
>intention is that abstract widgets like <xf:select1> could have styling
>performed on them to specify as rich a visualization as an author could
>want, including selection of a preferred concrete (XUL-style) widget
>instantiation. Because styling is dependent on the host language this is not
>spec'd in XForms itself, but this is certainly the vision.
>There are some other "interesting" characteristics of original XUL, like the
>ways it uses RDF and to some extent particulars of its integration with CSS,
>but it is a pioneering technology and rough edges are natural. The term
>"XUL" is, interestingly, starting to be genericized to refer to any "XML
>User Interface Language" even things like XForms and XAML (e.g.
>xulplanet.org's "XUL Grand Coding Challenge" included many solutions that
>were not XUL compatible at all). In that spirit it would seem interesting to
>consider creating a "XUL 2.0" (much more so than further Street HTML
>bolt-ons for desktop apps). Even though it might not end up strictly XUL 1.0
>compatible that doesn't seem to be a big issue (XUL 1.0 barring a few
>experimental efforts is basically used for Mozilla-based browser chrome not
>full-scale standalone apps). And, per other posts, make such a XUL 2.0 a
>real open standard not just a single-browser technology. But, again, such a
>XUL 2.0 should IMO either integrate or be complementary to SVG for
>declarative imaging model richness and XForms for declarative data model
>richness. Pursuing this of course would help head off over-complexification
>of SVG by people trying to make *it* into a complete app environment
>(bolting-on to Street HTML isn't the only idea I personally have a hard time
>getting on board with).
>And while we people may denigrate the device independence / multi-modality
>that the model-view separation of XForms fosters, it is a reality that
>global enterprises are increasingly specifying that solutions be mobilized
>and accessible. 
>-----Original Message-----
>From: David Hyatt [mailto:hyatt at apple.com] 
>Sent: Sunday, January 09, 2005 12:25 PM
>To: Bill McCoy
>Cc: 'J. Graham'; whatwg at whatwg.org; 'James Graham'; 'Henri Sivonen'
>Subject: Re: Weblogs /Newsreader as web app workflow example (was
>RE:[whatwg] Web Forms 2.0 - what does it extend , definition of same,
>relation to XForms, implementation reqs.)
>Bill McCoy wrote:
>>With XML technologies like XForms and SVG, one could imagine building a 
>>client for news reading (even for editing/managing/HTML-publishing) 
>>that would be portable across a set of adopting user agents but provide 
>>the visual richness and offline usability of a native client app. And 
>>the complexity level of devloping such a declarative solution could be 
>>much lower than a PHP+MySQL weblog system, much less developing a 
>>native app like AmphetaDesk and porting to every platform. The only 
>>steps towards this today is Flash-based solutions which are proprietary 
>>and built on a "stage and timeline" architecture not really suitable 
>>for apps. And, again, XAML is coming.
>There are other steps.  Specifically XUL. What do you think Firefox is
>written in?  Personally I think XUL is far better for building desktop apps
>than any XForms + SVG solution (e.g., XForms is constrained from really
>bringing richness to the desktop by the desire to remain
>(hyatt at apple.com)

More information about the whatwg mailing list