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.
"[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.