How to cite this paper

Pemberton, Steven. “Using XForms for interfaces to XML data.” Presented at International Symposium on Native XML User Interfaces, Montréal, Canada, August 5, 2013. In Proceedings of the International Symposium on Native XML User Interfaces. Balisage Series on Markup Technologies, vol. 11 (2013).

International Symposium on Native XML User Interfaces
August 5, 2013

Balisage Paper: Using XForms for interfaces to XML data

Steven Pemberton


CWI, Amsterdam

Steven Pemberton is a researcher at the CWI, the Dutch national research centre for mathematics and computer science, chair of the Forms Working Group at W3C, and a member of the OASIS ODF technical committee. He has been involved with the web from the beginning, organising two workshops at the first web conference in 1994, and chairing the first W3C Style Sheets workshop in 1995. He chaired the HTML Working Group for a decade. He is co-author of amongst others HTML 4, CSS, XHTML, XForms and RDFa. For more information see

Copyright © Steven Pemberton 2013, all rights reserved.


XForms is a high-level tool for defining user interfaces to XML data. With a design based on years of experience with the simple forms of HTML, XForms systematically distinguishes between the model (the information structures being edited, in the form of sets of XML documents) and the user interface and its appearance. As an XML vocabulary, XForms is embeddable in arbitrary host document languages; its user interface widgets can easily be represented in different ways for different devices and users. Forms of arbitrarily complex fixed structure can be easily represented in XForms. Mixed content, variable-depth recursion, and structural modifications to the model are more challenging. This introduction to XForms provides an overview of its capabilities and current limits and the prospects for overcoming them.