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eCRFs in XForms format - FAQ

If you do not find the answer to your own question, please do not hesitate to give us a phone call or to send us an e-mail.

Q. Can I still change the form once it has been produced automatically from the application ?

A. As XForms is XML, the answer is "yes". XML is essentially plain, human-readable text. So you can still edit the form and make changes. You can either use a traditional XML-editor, or use a special XForms editor, such as XFormation (but there are also others).

Q. I don' like the style I see in your samples. Can that be changed ?

A. XForms separate forms functionality from display and styling. In our application, the transformation is done in two steps. In the first step, the form itself is automatically created, and in the second step (also using XSLT), the styling (HTML) is added.
This means that you can easily change the styling just by changing the stylesheet that is used in the second step. Of course, you can also edit the final result (mix of XForms and HTML) using an XML of XForms editor.
Remark that the device itself will also usually take care of laying out the widgets in the form. The user can however influence the behaviour. For example, in case of a choice between 3 possibilities, a device will either dispay the options as 3 radiobuttons (appearance="full") or as a much more compact combobox (appearance="compact"). The developer of the XForms (be it either a human being or an XSLT stylesheet) can define which appearance is implemented.

Q. Can XForms be deployed on PDAs ?

A. Sure. XForms is being supported by more and more PDA browsers, usually as a plugin (IE, Firefox), but there are also some special XForms applications for use in PDAs, such as DataMovil and PicoForms. A list (which tries to be complete as possible) can be found here.

Q. What about Palm PDAs ?

A. IBM has developed some interesting technology for the use of XForms on Palm PDAs. It works on basis of an IBM Websphere application server, and a DB2 database. The only requirement is that the Palm (or other PDA) has a JVM (Java) installed. Some background information can be found here.

Q. Our PDAs are not always on-line. Can we use XForms ?

Yes. XForms instance data (i.e. the data you filled in) can be saved on the device when no connection is available with the server. The data can then be send to the server once a connection has been made with the server. For example, an investigator can submit all the eCRFs at the end of the day, when he put his PDA in the cradle.

Q. You said that the data is send as XML. What about security ?

A. XForms is XML and thus human-readable. The data that are send are also in XML. This means that anyone intercepting the traffic between client and server can in principle read the information, and maybe even change it. Therefore, as with any web traffic, it is strongly encouraged that addition security measures are taken. These can go from using SSL (Secure Socket Layer, i.e. using the https protocol) to signing the forms electronically upon submission, or to use XML-Encryption.

Can the data be signed electronically ?

A.Yes, as the data that is send to the server (or received from it), we strongly recommend to use XML-Signature to sign the data electronically.
If additionally encryption is necessary, one can either use SSL and/or XML-Encryption.

Are there any EDC features not covered by the ODM standard ?

A. Before the ODM 1.3 came out, there surely were ! With the ODM 1.3 however, we added a lot of new features especially for use in EDC. So with the ODM 1.3, we think we have covered most of the features that are currently used in EDC.
If there are any specific features in your own EDC system however that you think are not covered by the ODM 1.3, then you can easily add them to the ODM using a Vendor Extension.

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