The fall and rise of XForms

Yesterday I gave a talk about the W3C XForms specification at the @Exeter_Web (http://www.exeter-web.org) web developer meetup. Unsurprisingly only 1 out of the 30 or so strong audience had heard of this specification and that’s why I called this talk “The fall and rise of XForms”. XForms really is one of the hidden gems of the web and there seems to be strong interest in learning more from many of those who attended. Hopefully we will have opportunity for more great conversations about this topic in the future and who knows, maybe next time you’ll be tell me about the great solutions you have been able to create using one of the many implementations of the specification. So if you found the talk interesting, why not leave me a comment below! The slides from the talk are available and linked from this post.

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17th September Liferay UK User Group meetup in review

September was an interesting month packed full of interesting meet ups and opportunities to put into practice concepts that I have been evolving over the past couple of years. In this post I will cover the Liferay UK User Group (@LiferayUKUG) meet up on the 17th September hosted on LGA (Local Government Association) premises in Westminster (London). Continue reading

Intelligently merging XML documents using XForms

Looks like my blog is withering a little bit. To help bring it back to life, I thought it would be good to start a series of shorter postings that are quick to post, hopefully meaning less time in between!

These days I spend a considerable amount of time developing applications and forms using Orbeon Forms, which if you are unfamiliar, is one of the leading implementations of the W3C XForms 1.1 recommended specification. For the most part I use this for intelligent data capture and validation, but XForms is a very versatile technology with far reaching potential and is a very useful tool for any developer working with XML technologies. In particular for those already familiar with XPath and XML Schema. The local authority I work for is quite SOAP webservices centric, which is why I advocating XForms as a strategic tool for building user interfaces to our SOA.

I recently had the need to intelligently merge a series of XML documents valid to the same XML Schema. It was important that the merge only merged in elements from the second document that did not already exist in the first document. This required a definition of XML element equality. Continue reading

The role of public sector IT in a commissioning centric future

The UK public sector remains in a state of flux. The recent spending cuts have meant that good people have been lost, and authorities have been forced into thinking differently about how services are delivered. Working in a local authority IT department, this has manifested in a shift away from building solutions in house. Which brings the question, what is the future role of public sector IT? Continue reading

Can we assert online identity whilst preserving autonomy and anonymity?

I recently attended #ukgc12 (UK Gov Camp 2012) for the first time. For those who are not familiar with this conference, it’s a gathering of 300-400 individuals with ties to UK central or local government, who want to innovate using technology or debate ethical issues surrounding the use of technology. The conference spanned two days this year: the first day focussing on debate and the second day on workshops.

Although I found all the sessions I attended very inspiring, my personal favourite has to be the debate on “democratic identity” chaired by @curiousc. I found this debate intellectually stimulating because identity management is something I have been interested in from a technical perspective for some time. My focus has been focussed using identity management techniques to help make web applications convenient for users to use, with the belief that this will increase convergence. However, I had never approached it from a democratic perspective before. Continue reading

Every competitor is a potential collaborator – #digpen

The second #digpen web developer unconference took place at the Phoenix in Exeter on Saturday the 14th of May – with a lecture theatre full of talented web developers and designers from the South West of England.

The focus was on strengthening the community of developers and designers which already exists in the South West.  There were a series of 3 minute “lightning talk introductions” from individuals and small enterprises from the region, followed by some more lengthy spotlight presentations and workshops.  The conference wrapped up with some 2 minute pitches by representatives of other web related communities of potential interest to attendees.

I would highly recommend that if you live in the South West region that you subscribe for the next #digpen unconference which is on Saturday the 11th of June in Cornwall.  For up to date information please follow the hyperlink in the reference section.

I attended this event to gain more awareness of the types of technologies and tools that freelance and SME web developers are using to build and deploy web apps for clients.  I am especially interested in this as I would like to help make possible a future where local authorities play a key role in facilitating growth of local communities such as #digpen – procuring digital services from the community to help deliver innovative and effective services to the public.

Continue reading

Are the days of traditional CRM systems numbered?

Historically I have been a advocate of CRM technology. Now I’m no longer sure if it’s going to survive long term; at least not without a radical shift in approach.

Service providers commit a lot of resources into keeping their customer data up to date, so that it can feed into delivering a more streamlined service to the individual, facilitate BI and power campaigns. There appears to now be a realisation that this approach is both expensive and, in reality, ineffective. They’re always playing catch up. Continue reading