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Confusing Terminology (moved from InTopicTable)

When I first encountered TWiki I was confused by the overloading of the term "form".

I'd done HTML editing and was used to the HTML forms - the stuff anywhere on the page for input.

Now along comes TWiki where "forms" are the METADATA and you can only have one per page - sorry, topic.

But you can still have forms as well as forms, and you can have forms that you fill in and forms that you can't fill in.

The 'More topic actions" item on the bottom menu bar leads to a page with three forms. Only they are not TWiki Forms. But they are still called "forms". Just like TWiki forms are called "forms".

Now we have "tables" coming along to do the job of forms - but are they doing the job of the METADATA forms or of the data input forms? Or Both? Or part of both?

I think we need a better terminology. Then perhaps we can have an unambigious conceptual model of what does and doens't, can and can't get searched, and by what.

For example, we have %METASEARCH for searching metadata, but we can also search for METADATA by usig the regular %SEARCH and giving it a parameter that begines "META" -- because metadata is stored in-band. (I've never figured if that is just a sloppyness on the part of writing searches, a design oversight, or a hint that metadata is going to be taken out of band. If it is the case that metada gets taken out of band, a lot of those sloppy searches that use %SEARCH insted of %METASEARCH are going to break.)

So now we have "In Topic Tables". So where are the tables that are not in a topic? And I don't mean the ones in the living room and kithcen.

Language and terminology are important. No doubt the people doing the development have an idea in their head, and its probably some sort of blocks and diagram and not all words. But poor mortals like me need the words, and the words we currently have confuse me. The concepts we curently have are confusing enough for many of my users - ("What do you mean 'Topic', its a web page, isn't it? its comes from a web server using http doesn't it?" and "What do you mean 'Web'? What don't you call it a 'folder' or 'directory' or 'namespace'?" and "What do you mean 'form'? Am I supposed to fill it in before I proceed? How?). I'd hate to confuse them even more.

-- AntonAylward - 26 Oct 2004

I agree Anton. i'm hoping that as we work towards a more OO backend/store infrastructure, that we will have the oportunity to address some of the bizzare / misleading naming issues.

-- SvenDowideit - 26 Oct 2004

Would InContentTable be better than InTopicTable ? A form looks quite table-like to me. Indeed, isn't a form what a table into when it is to be edited?

-- MartinCleaver - 26 Oct 2004

Another confusion: TermTemplateIsTooOverloaded

-- MartinCleaver - 26 Oct 2004

The "In<your-name-goes-here>Table" problem is one that you are going to have to address some other way.

In HTML a form is a form. Whay you put in the form in term of HPML tabs gush as <strong>, <hr>, <p> <br>, <font> and even <table> are all just to do with layout and presnetation. The fact that you can use <table> to make for a regular, aligned layout -- see for example the registration form in TWikiRegistration - doesn't mean a form HAS to be a table or that all tables are HTML forms or have to be part of an enclosing HTML form.

The fact that there is code that goes through a topic to find the fields in a table and take the layout and contents and generate a HTML form so that the values can be edited, then substitute them back, also doens't mean that the table is a form. It only means there is a process by which values can be presented as a form.

If I were to have a YACC-like grammar that said how a form was to be laid out, much in the way we have a templating langauge (the ones in ~twiki/template that do the 'skins'), then that too could be transformed by code into a the interctive form. But it doens't mean that it is a form. That I can apply a transformation to soemthing doen't mean it is what I could be transformed into. "Dust to dust, ashes to ashes" and all that, but dust and ashes doens't write code even though you can tranforma programmer into dust and ashes.

I'm sorry, Martin, but we're dealing with concepts that are way beyond Aristole.

-- AntonAylward - 26 Oct 2004

Not all forms are for altering tables, but all tables that need editing would need to be done so through forms. Is this what you are saying?

-- MartinCleaver - 26 Oct 2004

No! far from it!

What I'm saying is that it is possible to write a plugin to collect arbitrary data from arbitrary forms and present it in an arbitrary layout within a HTMML form, take teh result, process it in arbitrary way and put it in some arbitrary store.

Further, I am saying that this is what we are already doing when we:

  • Create a new topic
    • Creat a topic using a custom TopicTemplate
  • Rename or move a topic
  • Run a parameterized search

If you think about it ... if there is a topic with a table in it, a table that was written using TWikiML, and you wanted to edit that, you could click on the 'edit' button at the top or bottom of the topic, bring up the edit screen and edit the table there. The edit screen is implemented via a not-so-arbitrary HTML form and the 'save' function is the not-so-arbitrary process that puts the result back in a not-so-arbitrary place -- the original topic, having applied some other transformation (which we can broadly call the RCS) along the way.

I can equally well define a (not-so-arbitrary)topic -- that has a (not-so-arbitrary) HTML form that does does a POST to a not-so-arbitrary GCI function of my own creation that performs some other not-so-arbitrary transformation. That's how things like 'multisave' came to be. That's how 'register' works.

My point is that unless we use qualifiers like "HTML forms" or "TWiki forms" (the latter being the stuff that ends up in the metadata and is defined in each web's WebPreferences (e.g WebForm or BasicForm) we are getting ourselves confused. As has been admirably demonstrated!

-- AntonAylward - 26 Oct 2004

before concept what now is twikiforms (to store metadata) was called "categories". and still is in other wikis, IIUC

-- PeterMasiar - 26 Oct 2004

Categories means something different, at least in c2 and other wikis I've used. A category is a grouping of related pages.

-- CrawfordCurrie - 26 Oct 2004

Yes. Must not confuse the thing with the mechanism for achieving the thing.

Funny how Aristotle and Kant come back to bite you...

-- AntonAylward - 27 Oct 2004

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Topic revision: r8 - 2008-09-15 - TWikiJanitor
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