Using XSL, XForms and UBL together to create complex forms with visual fidelity

Track: End-User Applications, Core Technologies

Audience Level: High Level/Technical view

Time: Thursday, November 17 16:00

Author: Klaas Bals, Inventive Designers

Keywords: XSL-FO, XSL, XForms, UBL, Business Documents, Publishing


This paper will explain how XSL-FO, XSLT, XForms and UBL can be used together (and how the implementation in Scriptura XBOS is done). Each technology contributes its own strengts to the total solution. XSL-FO for page oriented layout with a visual fidelity, XForms for advanced and flexible forms, and UBL to represent the business data.

Together they allow to create UBL documents such as invoices in a very powerful and flexible way, all with open standards.

Several challenges are explored. Typically, XSL-FO is used for paginated output, but not for user interaction, where user actions can change the output. XForms is typically used in combination with XHTML to create rich web forms.

Also problems encountered when trying to use these technologies together are explained. For example the way XForms uses CSS to apply dynamics in contrast with the fact that XSL uses XSLT to apply dynamics. Or the limations that the built-in Dynamic Effects elements in XSL-FO have in relation with XForms.

In the end, a working prototype implementation will be shown that proves that these three technologies really can be used together, and that they provide capabilities comparable to Adobe PDF Forms, but then in an open standard way.