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Transformation between XML instance data and HTML form

P: n/a
A few weeks ago I have the idea of converting XML instance data to a
HTML form, using tags as the label and the resulting form can be used
to edit the XML data. So I started to play around with it, and have
some prelimary proof of concept stuff working. Then I started to
search around on the web for similar works. There seem to be quite a
few people with the same idea. The following is an example. However as
far as I can tell, nobody really takes it to the fullest conclusion.
And the more I work on the project, I can see more and more
interesting potential. I would like to get some comment before I go
too far with my project.

My work is on this site, bear in mind that a lot of features are
missing. For example I am working on insert and delete now.

http://www.datamech.com/XMLForm/

And for a completely bare bone approach, look at this
XML file from IE6 (would not work with mozilla.)

http://www.datamech.com/XMLForm/test.xml

Ed Lai

wh************@yahoo.com (Frank Einstein) wrote in message news:<5c**************************@posting.google. com>...
Looking for a tool that can edit an XML file in a browser. The basic
requirement is that the XML file is rendered as an HTML form with
editable fields (including add/delete, preferably in accordance with
with the document's XSD/DTD or other schema definition). I don't mind
the actual form of this tool - could be implemented as a JSP/Servlet,
ASP component, or browser plug-in for local or remote XML file access.
Alternatively, it doesn't have to be a web browser or HTML as the GUI,
but it does need to be form-based (as opposed to element-tree based
like most simple XML editors).

My initial feeling that something like this would be ubiquitous and
freely available seems to have hit up against a different reality
after a day of looking. Perhaps tool writers are waiting for
standards to progress in this area (XForm ?). Perhaps I'm looking in
the wrong places ?

As an example of what I'm looking for, the closest thing I've found is
described in this series of articles :
http://www.xmlfiles.com/articles/mic...ml/default.asp (this
example uses the Microsoft.XMLDOM asp component)

What's missing here is that the generated HTML form simply reflects
the current XML document instance, and does not allow for
modifications allowable by the XSD/DTD unless they are currently in
the XML document instance. For example, it doesn't give a button to
add an additional element, if this is allowed by the maxOccurrence in
the XSD.

So what I want does this:
- open user-specified XML doc
- (optionally) open XSLT doc for custom GUI/form rendering
- open XSD or DTD doc
- render GUI form containing XML data in accordance with optional XSTL
doc
- allow use of HTML/_javascript(or other) controls to change/add/delete
elements/paramenters/data etc., within the confines of the XSD/DTD
- transform form data back to XML format, valid per XSD/DTD, and save
to disk

I've also briefly looked at the Cocoon XMLForms stuff (and related),
but this seems too comprehensive for what I want... I don't want XML
binding to Java objects/beans, I simply want something that will
input/output back to/from the original XML file. Maybe there is a
tool/sample/example within the Cocoon distribution that does this, but
I haven't actually looked yet.

Any pointers welcome.

...

Jul 20 '05 #1
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7 Replies


P: n/a
da***********@yahoo.com (Ed Lai) writes:
A few weeks ago I have the idea of converting XML instance data to a
HTML form, using tags as the label and the resulting form can be used
to edit the XML data. So I started to play around with it, and have
some prelimary proof of concept stuff working. Then I started to
search around on the web for similar works.
...


Hey, I find this very interesting. I had the same idea, but just looked at
the web to find any existing tool and didn't try to implement it myself.

Anyway, a couple of ideas :
- did you look at XForms ? I guess it may concern
HTML completed form -> XML instance,
- In my mind, your "form generator" could by made with a XSL transformation
generating the HTML form from any XML instance document.
The really difficult job would be to generalize this to HTML form derivated
from DTD or XML-Schema... Of course some tools exist (XML structured editors),
but I couldn't find one working over the Web (in a thin client architecture)

Bye,

Robert Rivière
Jul 20 '05 #2

P: n/a
The most frequent suggetion I got was that I should look into XForms. I
have read some introduction but not in detail. I guess I would be using
it in future. Now I would like to have something that at least in its
minimum configuration can run in as many machine as possible. Using
XForms now require a special browser or plugin. I often use the computer
in a public library and of course you cannot install your own software
there. This is my guideline, you should be able to use it from a public
library computer. So XForms is for future work, not now, and of course
that gives me some time to really learn XForms.

As for using XSLT for the transformation, it is indeed possible and I
have a shorten version of it, when I suggested looking at
http://www.datamech.com/XMLForm/test.xml, that uses XSLT to transform
the test.xml file to HTML form. Although I agree it would be much more
difficult when we have to take account of XSD/DTD.
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Jul 20 '05 #3

P: n/a
Ed Lai <an*******@devdex.com> writes:
[about XForms]
it in future. Now I would like to have something that at least in its
minimum configuration can run in as many machine as possible. Using
XForms now require a special browser or plugin.


AFAIK, the Chiba project implements on server-side XForms managing for a thin-client
pure HTML navigator.

I didn't look in deep details, though

Robert
Jul 20 '05 #4

P: n/a
A new version that includes insertion and deletion is now available. It
can be found in the same location.

http://www.datamech.com/XMLForm/


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Jul 20 '05 #5

P: n/a
Ed Lai <an*******@devdex.com> writes:
A new version that includes insertion and deletion is now available. It
can be found in the same location.

http://www.datamech.com/XMLForm/


Hi,

very interesting work. Nice job. I think it gives a good illustration of global concepts around XML.

However in "Modify the Input Fields of the Form", you say :
"Note that with schema information, it is possible to generate these non-text field automatically".

Yes, definitively. But in my mind *this* is the hot-topic. Having a form generator
able to produce radio-buttons or drop-down menus from what is in the schema.
Would you have any plan about this ?

Robert
Jul 20 '05 #6

P: n/a
Ed Lai <an*******@devdex.com> writes:
A new version that includes insertion and deletion is now available. It can be found in the same location.

http://www.datamech.com/XMLForm/

Hi, very interesting work. Nice job. I think it gives a good illustration of global concepts around XML.
However in "Modify the Input Fields of the Form", you say :
"Note that with schema information, it is possible to generate these non-text field automatically".
Yes, definitively. But in my mind *this* is the hot-topic. Having a form generatorable to produce radio-buttons or drop-down menus from what is in the schema.Would you have any plan about this ? Robert


Yes, it is definitely under the plan, although I think the choice
information is going to be collected from the data.

BTW, for those who just drop into this thread and do not know what is
going on, XMLForm is a web based XML editor using HTML Form. It is still
under development, the first release was in Jan which only allows
modifying the XML data. I just release a version that allows adding and
removing elements from the XML data. There will be more features in
future release. Check it out in http://www.datamech.com/XMLForm/

Ed
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Jul 20 '05 #7

P: n/a
I have posted a new version of the editor that allows you to change a
text field to a select list or radio buttons, the choices are collected
from the document.

For Safari you can only make the select list. The radio buttons would
not work right.

As usual, it is located at

http://www.datamech.com/XMLForm/

Ed

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Jul 20 '05 #8

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