The HTML 5 specification is a work in progress, it will not reach final W3C recommendation status until 2022, as estimated by the editor Ian Hickson, though the official W3C estimate for completion is 2010. In any case, there are already browser implementations for many parts of the proposed HTML 5 specification, so it is worthwhile to learn about the new possibilities offered. Considering the current competition in the browser market, it is possible that the adoption of HTML 5 will be faster than expected.
A while ago, Jacob Gube wrote a guest post at RWW about 5 exciting things to look forward to in HTML 5. These are:
- New "semantic" HTML elements, e.g <nav>, <article>, <header> and <footer>. This would make it unnecessary to use the generic <div> element, together with class or id attributes, to build common parts of a web page. It would also facilitate search engines to better understand the contents of a web page, e.g. which parts are more relevant.
- Improved forms handling with validation.
- APIs for <video> and <audio> elements, allowing playback, for example. In November last year I wrote about the open source Ogg Theora video codec, which is a good choice for the <video> element.
- The <canvas> element for drawing to the screen.
- User editing of web pages (wiki-style) via the
All details can be found in the latest HTML 5 draft recommendation (currently as of January 24th, 2009).
Continuing my recap of noteworthy stuff from late last year. In December it was revealed that Google is working on a project dubbed Native Client, which aims to bring native x86 execution speed to web apps in a secure way. It is an exciting project, "so crazy that it just might work", wrote Neil McAllister.
How is this different from Microsoft's ActiveX technology? Security wise, ActiveX relies on trust, i.e. it's up to the user to give the ActiveX control permission to run. Native Client on the other hand relies on automated sandboxing and code analysis to make sure that the application is safe to run. Native Client also takes a more open approach, by open sourcing the technology. Native Client is portable across the x86 architecture, which includes Windows, Linux and Mac machines, but it potentially leaves important mobile platforms in the cold.
Initially, the main target for the project is resource intensive applications, like physical simulations and visualizations. The image above depicts the Mandelbrot set, as generated by a port of the fractal viewer application XaoS to Native Client. The 3D game Quake has also been successfully ported to Native Client. Generally it has proven easy to port existing C/C++ applications to run in the trusted environment, which is really promising.
If the launch of the Chrome browser was Google's first step towards making the OS desktop obsolete, Native client is yet another step in that direction. Soon we might be able to do all computer tasks, even resource intensive ones, inside the browser window.
Beginning of December last year, the war of the universal login heated up considerably with the simultaneous launch of Google Friend Connect and Facebook Connect. Soon after, MySpace joined the party with MySpaceID.
Google Friend Connect is about making it easy to add basic social features to a site with the help of Google Gadgets and OpenSocial apps. Login is possible via a Google account, Yahoo, AIM or OpenID.
On a Facebook Connect enabled site, users can login via their Facebook account, connect with friends on the site, invite friends and publish status updates back to Facebook.
MySpaceID offers similar services as Facebook, but builds on the open standards OpenID, OAuth and OpenSocial. They have also partnered with Friend Connect, to make it easy to add OpenSocial apps to a site.
Of the three, Google and MySpace are considered more open and friendly, as they support OpenID for example, whereas Facebook is considered proprietary and evil. Sadly enough the evil side is destined to win this war, due to its exceptional growth rate and simplicity for users. Hopefully there's still a hope for OpenID and that the good guys will win in the end.
Royal Pingdom reports that the buzzwords "Web 2.0" and "Web 3.0" among others have peaked and are declining. This is consistent with my findings last spring that Web 3.0 peaked in October 2007. Josh Catone even argues that Web 2.0 has died altogether.
Buzzwords still increasing in popularity according to Royal Pingdom include "Crowdsourcing", "Microblogging", "Social media" and "Social network".
Resuming blogging in the new year. I'll try to replace last year's weekly highlights, with shorter one-topic posts, on a more or less regular basis.
Back in November Robert Scoble wrote about the half life of conversations in the blogosphere, which in the early times of blogging (around 2000) could be as long as about a week. Nowadays, on Twitter, it can be as short as five minutes.