HTML5 progresses despite challenges

The new standard still faces video codec issues but could reach the candidate-recommendation phase by 2011

Development of HTML5, the highly touted upgrade to the language of the Web, is progressing but still faces obstacles, including lack of a standard video codec, said an official of the World Wide Web Consortium at a gathering on Tuesday.

Featuring video capabilities and support for offline applications and the SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) specification, HTML5 is set to move to a candidate recommendation phase in by the end of 2010. That phase would last two years before a final adoption could occur, said Philippe Le Hegaret, a W3C interaction domain leader, during a press briefing at the W3C Technical Plenary/Advisory Committee meeting in Santa Clara, Calif. W3C officials also provided updates on efforts in the mobile widget and IPv6 adoption spaces.

[ InfoWorld's Paul Krill reports that HTML5 could kill of both Flash and Silverlight. | Neil McAllister explains why HTML5's industry fights could prevent a truly standards-based Web. ]

"[HTML5 presents] the next generation of being able to interact or do more with your Web applications," Le Hegaret said. HTML5 would be supported within browsers and by application developers.

Challenges, however, include the lack of a video codec in HTML5. "The underlying issue is finding a video format that is royalty-free," said Le Hegaret. "So far, we haven't been able to provide one video format that can satisfy everyone."

MPEG-4 and Ogg have not met the royalty-free criteria, Le Hegaret explained. Fallback options could include having a developer, for example, define a page to work in the Safari and Firefox browsers and then provide two video formats, he said.

HTML5's multimedia capabilities could give developers less reason to deploy proprietary technologies like Microsoft Silverlight or Adobe Flash, Le Hegaret acknowledged. But Le Hegaret said those technologies would remain a step ahead of HTML5 in technical development.

Work also is being done in the accessibility space, with HTML5 to link to the WAI-ARIA (Web Accessibility Initiative Accessible Rich Internet Applications) suite, to make Web content accessible to people with disabilities.

Le Hegaret also touted SVG, which provides a language for describing two-dimensional graphics and graphical applications in XML. "What we're going to see is Web applications becoming much nicer with the arrival of SVG on the Web," he said.

But Microsoft's lack of support for SVG in the Internet Explorer browser remains "the elephant in the room," Le Hegaret said. Microsoft has been a co-chair of the HTML working group and has several employees at the WC3 event, he said. Although noting Microsoft has not released its plans for the Internet Explorer 9 browser, Le Hegaret said to expect good news from the company on the SVG front.

W3C Director Tim Berners-Lee lauded HTML5 efforts. "I think [the specification] is great," he said. But he added there is to work to do on the specification and that it must be made to work on the Web in a secure way.

With its mobile widgets initiative, efforts are afoot to address fragmentation in developing applications for the mobile space, said David Rogers, director of external relations for OMTP (Open Mobile Terminal Platform). Widgets are small Web applications considered ideal for mobile device-independence.

"We have a problem in the mobile industry. We have an issue with fragmentation," Rogers said. Technologies are being developed to address fragmentation, such as the W3C Widgets 1.0 specification and OMTP Bondi, Rogers noted. By coming to the W3C, interested parties can define what a widget is and find areas of agreement, said Rogers.

Rogers's presentation featured a Vodaphone mobile phone built by Samsung and featuring a development framework based on the W3C widget standard. The device ran the LiMo OS.

In the IPv6 arena, Leslie Daigle, chief Internet technology officer for the Internet Society, said the last allocation of IPv4 addresses to an ISP is predicted to occur in February 2013. "The cupboard is definitely running bare. On the other hand, there are lots of IPv6 addresses," she said. IPv6 was defined a decade ago but there have not been enough deployments, she said. Major ISPs and content providers, however, are including IPv6 in current deployments.

"It's also becoming clear that wireless broadband is going to be a major component of IPv6 deployment," Daigle said.

IPv6 deployments have been lacking, however, because of a belief that there is no business case for it, she said.

This story, "HTML5 progresses despite challenges," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in application development at InfoWorld.com.

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