[whatwg] Re: modal and modeless windows

Karl Pongratz karlhp at karlhp.com
Mon Jun 27 07:24:14 PDT 2005


I appreciate that Xforms supports modal and modeless messages, yet I 
miss it in the web browser.

I could envision that as follows, lets take the address book of 
Microsoft Outlook, the desktop application, as an example.

You have a page (resource) my_addresses.html, a simple document that 
shows you all your addresses without any form fields. If you want to 
edit an address you click on it, which will open a modal window, this 
modal window should then contain the xforms document to edit the 
address, with a "Save and Close" and "Cancel" button. Cancel will close 
the modal window, no other action is taken. Save and Close will save the 
form data, closes the modal window and it will update the changes in the 
underlying my_addresses.html document, i.e. by reloading it.

You can do the same without modal windows, the traditional approach, see 
Views and Forms: Principles of Task Flow for Web Applications Part 1 
(Bob Baxley)

Though I believe the modal window approach would be much cleaner and 
saver, maybe Bob Baxley would have chosen that way, if modal windows 


Mark Birbeck wrote:

>[I'm not on the WhatWG list, so this will probably bounce.]
>>I had a short look at the webforms and web applications 
>>specification at whatwg.org, I didn't find anything about 
>>modal and modeless windows. If there is anything to improve 
>>for html, xhtml, xforms and compound documents, then, in my 
>>opinion, the first missing feature that comes into my mind is 
>>the lack of modal and modeless windows.
>XForms does already have modal and modeless messages, and I know that both
>X-Smiles and formsPlayer have implemented them in such a way that the
>message itself can contain other form controls. (I don't know about other
>implementations, but my guess is they probably do, too.)
>In other words, you can have a little sub-form that updates the main
>instance data, but appears to the user as a separate 'window'. The only
>difference then between modal messages and modeless ones are that modal
>messages block execution until they have been closed, whilst modeless ones
>can happily sit on top of the main form.
>Note also that once again we get a much better model in XForms, since
>actually what we are talking about is the behaviour of an abstract concept
>-- a 'message' -- which will act differently on different platforms. We
>don't say use some method call on the document or window object, as we have
>to do in current solutions, but which is very difficult to make accessible.
>Mark Birbeck
>x-port.net Ltd.
>e: Mark.Birbeck at x-port.net
>t: +44 (0) 20 7689 9232
>w: http://www.formsPlayer.com/
>b: http://internet-apps.blogspot.com/
>Download our XForms processor from

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