XForms: Presentation

The author Steven Pemberton, CWI Amsterdam


  1. Contents
  2. Introduction
  3. Advantages
  4. Packages
  5. A presentation application in XForms
  6. The Basis
  7. Slides
  8. Selecting slides
  9. Next slide
  10. Remote
  11. Displaying One Slide
  12. Elements
  13. Compound elements
  14. Mixed content
  15. Images
  16. Result
  17. Loading Other Slide Sets


CSS has a special presentation mode:

@media projection {

When the browser is put into presentation mode, those styling rules apply.

The idea is that the browser goes into full-screen mode, and the projection rules will typically increase the font size, and express where 'page' breaks are.


This has had several advantages, for instance:


Unfortunately, no browser supports CSS presentation mode any more.

Packages of Javascript have emerged to support presentation, such as reveal, remark, webslides, deck, and shwr, (and dozens more) and although some are very cute, they all have some underlying problems:

A presentation application in XForms

Not quite as good as having a standard built into the browser, but the advantages are:

The Basis

The slide deck is an XHTML document; each slide is a div with rather simple XHTML:

   <h2>The Basis</h2>
   <p>The slide deck is an XHTML document;
      each slide is a <code>div</code> with
      rather simple XHTML: </p>
   <pre>... etc ...</pre>


An initial slide deck is loaded into an instance:

<instance src="http://www.cwi.nl/~steven/Talks/...whatever..."/>

(we'll see later how to load different decks).

Selecting slides

The central part is a group that selects one div:

<group ref="h:body/h:div[position()=instance('i')/index]">

This requires an admin instance that will keep track of which slide we are looking at any time, initalised to 1:

<instance id="i">
    <admin xmlns="">

Next slide

We could add buttons to step through the slides like this:

    <setvalue ev:event="DOMActivate" ref="instance('i')/index" value=". - 1"/>
    <setvalue ev:event="DOMActivate" ref="instance('i')/index" value=". + 1"/>


Better to do it via the keyboard, not least because presentation remotes act as if they are keyboards, sending the characters Page Up and Page Down when the buttons are pressed:

<action ev:event="keydown" ev:defaultAction="cancel">
    <setvalue ref="instance('i')/index" value=". - 1"
              if="event('key')='PageUp' or event('key')='ArrowLeft'"/>
    <setvalue ref="instance('i')/index" value=". + 1"
              if="event('key')='PageDown' or event('key')='ArrowRight'"/>

It is necessary to cancel the default action of the event, since otherwise the browser would do a page up or down as well.

Displaying One Slide

Each slide contains a sequence of XHTML elements. So within the group holding the slide, we just have to display those elements. We treat each element within the div:

<repeat ref="*">

and deal with each element separately.


Here are some simple cases:

<output class="h1" ref=".[name(.)='h1']"/>
<output class="h2" ref=".[name(.)='h2']"/>
<output class="pre" ref=".[name(.)='pre']"/>

The XPath idiom ".[name(.)='h1']" selects the current item only if its name is 'h1'. If its name doesn't match, then no node is selected by the output element, and so it is disabled and does nothing; if the name matches, then its content is output.

By attaching a class, CSS controls how it will be displayed. Clearly at most one of the output elements will be enabled.

In fact we can combine these by taking advantage of attribute value templates in XForms 2:

<output class="{name(.)}" ref=".[name(.)='h1' or name(.)='h2' or name(.)='pre']"/>

Compound elements

More complicated cases are those elements that themselves contain other elements, such as <p> and <ul>.

The easier of these two is <ul>. Here we do a similar trick, and repeat over the contained elements, with the advantage that we know they are all <li> elements:

<group class="ul" ref=".[name(.)='ul']">
    <repeat ref="h:li">
        <output class="li" ref="."/>

Mixed content

The <p> elements have a complication that they may contain mixed content. No worry though, because there is a selector for that. Rather than using ref="*" as we did in the outermost repeat, we use ref="node()" which repeats over all nodes, which includes text and comments as well as elements:

<group class="p" ref=".[name(.)='p']">
    <repeat ref="node()">
        <output class="text" ref=".[name(.)='#text']"/>
        <output class="{name(.)}" ref=".[name(.)='em' or name(.)='strong' or name(.)='code' or name(.)='a']"/>
        <output class="img" ref=".[name(.)='img']" value="concat(instance('i')/base, @src)" mediatype="image/*"/>


Since there is no output element that selects comment nodes, they won't be displayed.

The only interesting case here is for images. The src attribute is relative to the original slides, so we have to concatenate it with the base URL of the slides, which we store in the admin instance:

<instance id="i">
    <admin xmlns="">


Here it is in action. You have to click on one of the arrows in the top right to give focus to it; after that you can use the arrow keys on your keyboard:


Loading Other Slide Sets

Having the base stored in the admin instance makes it easy. All we need to do is ask the user for the URL of the new slide set, submit it, and replace the slides instance with the result:

<input ref="instance('i')/base" label="URL:"/>
<submit submission="change" label="Go"/>

where the <submission> element looks like this:

<submission id="change" resource="{instance('i')/base}" serialize="none" replace="instance" instance="slides"/>

However, we need to do one other thing: when the new slides are loaded, we need to reset the index back to 1:

<submission resource="{instance('i')/base}" id="change" method="get" serialize="none" replace="instance" instance="slides">
    <action ev:event="xforms-submit-done">
        <setvalue ref="instance('i')/index" value="1"/>
        <toggle case="show"/>