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June 18, 2007

Missing Features of HTML

I've just been looking at this position paper, "Declarative Models for Ubiquitous Web Applications" [1]; amongst other things, it makes some criticisms of HTML that are in line with my goals for the Links project:
  • A declarative expression language notation is not specified in (X)HTML. As a result developers have to code dynamic aspects of the user interface by means of server side scripts or Javascript DOM [DOM] manipulation.
  • (X)HTML classic forms [Forms] are severely limited in terms of typing information. For example, It cannot be specified that an input element accepts a date, a number or a patterned text. Furthermore, due to limitations in the submission formats, applications have to convert everytime, typically at server side, strings to the correct type expected by the application logic.
  • Lack of data binding mechanisms. Data binding is a technique that allows to associate data between the model and user interface components in a declarative way. Developers typically write server side scripts or Javascript AJAX-based code to populate user interface components with data. As a result, in (X)HTML-based user interfaces there is no clear separation between the model, the view and the controller.
It looks like the authors are concerned more with the phenomenon of web apps deployed on mobile devices and inside other web apps, rather than "ordinary" browser–server apps. Who knows what will come of it. [1] Fonseca, J. M. C., Prendes, I. M., Soriano, J., Hierro, J. J. Declarative Models for Ubiquitous Web Applications. April, 2007.