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A Standards-based Look at XAML's Features : Page 2

Microsoft's Longhorn will introduce XAML, an application development framework for Web and Windows apps. But just how different is XAML from the already-available public standards set by the W3C?


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XAML, XUL, and XHTML Overlap
The greatest overlap between XAML and other standards lies in its support for concepts drawn from HTML/XHTML. The similarities between XAML and HTML are numerous. Overlap with HTML is not limited to XAML, of course. The other well-known XML GUI dialect—Mozilla's XUL—also overlaps with XHTML. Finally, both XAML and XUL overlap in places that XHTML doesn't even include. XHTML and XUL can be combined in one document (at least in Mozilla browsers). Such a combination is a rough analog for non-Web uses of XAML. In fact, Mozilla's XUL alone is a rough analog for some uses of XAML.

Table 2 shows a number of XAML tags that closely match standard XHTML tags, as well as the equivalent XUL tags, when available.

Table 2. XAML tags that duplicate XHTML and XUL functionality.

XAML Tag

XHTML tag



XUL tag

Audio

embed, object

 

Block

div

 

Break

br

 

Button

button

button

Cell

cell

 

CheckBox

input type="checkbox"

checkbox

Column

th

column listcol treecol

ComboBox

select

menupopup listbox

ComboBoxItem

option

menuitem listitem

Document

body

 

Footer

tfooter

 

Frame

frame, iframe

iframe

Header

theader

listheader treeheader

Heading

h1, h2, h3, h4, h5, h6

caption

HyperLink

a

 

Image

img

image

LineBreak

br

 

List

ul, ol

 

Listbox

select

listbox

ListElementItem

 

listcell treecell

ListItem

option

listitem treeitem

Menu

select

menu menulist

MenuItem

option

menuitem

Note

blockquote

 

Paragraph

p

description

RadioButton

input type="radio"

radio

RadioButtonList

input type="radio name="?"

radiogroup

Section

section

description

Table

table

grid

Text

input type="text"

textbox

TextBox

textbox

textbox multiline="true"

Video

embed, object

 


Table 2 contains a bewildering array of tags, but taken together, they really constitute nothing more than support for most of the basic HTML content and form widgets that are already routine in ordinary Web applications. XUL overlaps XHTML less that XAML does because XUL attempts to separate itself from XHTML. It's not trying to be a drop-in replacement, as XAML is.

One thing I do like about XAML compared with HTML is the increased freedom from the publishing-derived features of HTML. XAML frees you from h1 tags, code tags and a host of other miscellaneous niche tags used infrequently in HTML. For practical purposes, these tags act as little more than style information in modern HTML documents.

HTML is also a poor GUI for applications, despite the popularity of the Web. Both XAML and XUL go a long way towards rectifying that problem. You could re-write your Web applications in XAML and they'd look better than the HTML originals, if only XAML had better CSS support. There's that CSS issue again.



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