The theme song to Star Trek started to play in my head last night when I thought about the imminent publication of XForms 1.1 as a W3C standard (which the W3C calls a Recommendation). It's been five years since I started putting the working group's content into the first "thin spec" working draft of XForms 1.1.
Since that time, the working group has substantially upgraded XForms to enable it to better address the emerging requirements of cutting edge web applications and interactive documents. This has included well over a thousand spec changes to resolve differences in understanding both great and small. Many times it has happened that one person's editorial clarification is another's substantive change, so there was a significant improvement in mindshare and consensus at a much deeper level than was the case for XForms 1.0.
The biggest change, in my view, is the substantial increase in web connectivity features added to the XForms submission module. This enables XForms to properly act as a smart Web 2.0 application client. XForms handles the interactive rich user experience of the web application, and at any point in that interaction, XForms can directly inject information into and extract information from server-side data sources and business processes exposed as web services, REST services, ATOM feeds and publishing services, etc.
As powerful as these features are when used within a web application's HTML pages, they are all the more interesting when used to connect open standard ODF office-style documents to data sources and business processes. Then, you get the blend of ease-of-user and familiarity features of a word processing or spreadsheet document and the desirable connectivity features of a Web 2.0 application. For further details on these thoughts, please see my document engineering conference papers on ODF and XForms: "Interactive Office Documents: A New Face for Web 2.0 Applications", "An Office Document Mashup for Document-Centric Business Processes", and "Enriching the Interactive User Experience of Open Document Format" (these papers are likely to be available to you through your institutional account with the ACM, e.g. through KnowledgeGate for IBMers).
There are many other additions and refinements in XForms 1.1, which are summarized in the introduction. Suffice it to say that five years of effort have gone into making XForms ready for prime-time, and we at IBM are very pleased to see this version of XForms advance to W3C Recommendation, especially due to the number of products we already have in market that support this computing industry standard. With XForms 1.1, we will soon be able to realize the vision of delivering Web 2.0 applications via "A REST Protocol and Composite Format for Interactive Web Documents".