XForms: an Introduction

Steven Pemberton, CWI

XForms is a declarative language for applications, on the web and elsewhere.

Who uses it

The BBC Sports App is written in XFormsIt is a W3C standard, and in worldwide use, for instance by:

and many others.


Experience has shown that it greatly simplifies making applications.

Example: A company that makes big machines.

The user interface is very demanding — traditionally needed 5 years, and 30 people. With XForms this became: 1 year, 10 people. Do the sums. Assume one person costs 100k a year: then this has gone from a 15M cost to a 1M cost. They have saved 14 million! (And 4 years)

Example: Insurance Industry

Manager: I want you to come back to me in 2 days with estimates of how long it will take your teams to make the application.

(Two days later)

Programming person: I'll need 30 days to work out how long it will take to program it.

XForms person: I've already programmed it!

Example: NHS

The British National Health Service started a project for a distributed health records system.

One person in three years then created a system using XForms.

Learning it

If you want to start learning XForms, here are some steps:


(Some) Implementations:

XForms is also part of OpenOffice* and LibreOffice*

*=open source

If you know of more, or want to be added to this list, let me know.


XForms version 2.0 is in preparation. If you want to get involved, join the group!

Steven Pemberton