Month: December 2003

How to create a know-it-all company. Lauren Gibbons Paul has written an article on knowledge sharing in the corporate world. To quote: Even in the best of times, it’s a battle to convince employees to participate in knowledge management programs. But in tough times, the tendency… [Column Two]

“Very simply, the effort of sharing knowledge has to be less than the value of participating.”

Scoble doesn’t like group weblogs

A picture named scoble.jpgScoble: “I don’t like group weblogs.” This is a current topic with me. A bunch of people I know wanted to do a group blog. I said okay give it a try. I’m watching from a distance. I prefer to write for my blog and develop a way to route posts to categories so readers can assemble their own group blogs out of their favorite authors (of which I hope to be one). Scoble is a pundit and a very wise man. He’s onto something. [Scripting News]

ECM? Actually, they mostly want WCM

Tony Byrne reports on the results of a recent poll on content management, conducted by AIIM at their recent seminar series. Some interesting results:

The ECM industry’s major trade association (and all-around cheerleader), AIIM, recently polled 333 end-user attendees at its CMS seminar series. AIIM uncovered a lot of interesting data. Not surprisingly, Records Management remains paramount in the face of serious compliance challenges. But for those technology buyers seeking foremost to achieve cost savings and greater customer value, web content management rises nearly to the top of their wishlists.


This weekend I started looking at XForms. I didn’t know much about it, but what I had a suspicion that it could be a standard that could be leveraged as a standard/best practice method of letting people build forms that would submit data into a content management system like Documentum.

I picked up XForms: XML Powered Web Forms by T.V. Raman. I plowed through the first 80 pages and then grew restless–I wanted to try some of it on my own and the book really didn’t lend itself to that. It’s more reference than how-to. I did find the early chapters valuable, though. When I was ready to try some out on my own, I used the following resources:

Here’s what I’ve learned, so far:

XForms is awesome. When it is adopted by the W3C as a full-blown standard, and production implementations exist, it will not be too soon.

See the above resources for details, but the gist is that HTML forms have outstayed their welcome. Anyone who has ever developed a web app knows this. You end up jumping through all kinds of hoops to do validation, conditionally hiding fields or sections of forms, building dynamic dropdown lists, and what I call progressive disclosure, or showing/hiding entire sections of forms based on field selections or other criteria. Top it all off with coming up with ways to handle the data on submission and you’ve got a large portion of your development effort going towards mundane tasks.

XForms changes all of that. You define your data structure using XML. You can even use an XML Schema if you want. Then, you describe the form using XML. The UI widgets on the form get bound to pieces of the data structure (the model) using XPath. The widgets are described in a presentation-independent way. That means the form can easily be used in devices other than the web browser.

When the form gets submitted, the form data magically fills in the data structure you defined and the server receives a well-formed XML document.

An XForms page can also dynamically pull data in to the form. So, for example, you could write a web service that could be used to populate a dropdown list. I’m assuming you’d do something like this to retrieve the data after it is submitted for editing. So far, I haven’t tried any examples where the data actually gets stored in a back-end repository and then gets retrieved for editing.

The idea of defining the data model separate from the presentation of the form is very appealing. And I like the ability to tie the validation in to the data model via XML schema. It reminds me of the good ole Notes days where documents are collections of fields that can be displayed in many different ways as defined by one or more forms. But, this is all based on XML and Schemas.

Once you get those documents into the repository (relational, native XML, or content management system) you can do anything with it you want like build “views” or lists of documents sorted any way you want using XSLT.

Finished a good book over the weekend. It was Bringing Down the House, by Ben Mezrich. It’s the story of the MIT blackjack teams that won millions from casinos in Vegas and other casinos around the country. If you have any interest in blackjack or gambling, you’ll really like this book. It is unbelievable. For a taste, here‘s the Wired article that originally turned me on to the story.