[AI] One web language to rule them all
ilovecold at gmail.com
Fri Aug 27 06:54:18 EDT 2010
A new version of the code from which all web pages are made will
dissolve the boundary between your computer and the web
by MacGregor Campbell
Innovation is our regular column that highlights emerging
technological ideas and where they may lead
How would you like to have just one all-powerful program on your
computer? No cluttered "start" menu or "dock" to make your selection
from, just one icon to click that opens up a window capable of any
task you may require.
In fact, you are already using that one all-powerful program: it's
your web browser.
A new version of the standard HyperText Markup Language (HTML) used to
make web pages is in the works. The new standard, called HTML5, is not
yet complete, but its impressive features and the fact it has
attracted the backing of major computer manufacturers and web-content
producers has set it on course to dramatically change the way we use
HTML5's power is that it can break down the barrier between
applications running online and those on your own device almost
Advanced web services like like Google Docs or the online version
of Photoshop already make it possible to edit photos or
spreadsheets much as you can with a traditional program. But those web
applications don't feel quite right, because the current form of HTML
ring-fences the web from the rest of a computer.
Web apps can't do things like drag-and-drop files between your web
browser and computer desktop, offer full functionality when you're not
online, or play various media without extra software plug-ins. HTML5
makes it possible to do all that, making it a technology with appeal
to both web users and the companies and programmers that provide web
In the past week Google used HTML5 to make it possible to drag
files into its online email service as you would if moving them around
on your own computer, and also announced that it would soon use HTML5
to make it possible for online documents to be accessed and edited
even when not connected to the internet, by storing data locally and
seamlessly syncing it as soon as when a connection is available.
Apple used the recent launch of its iPad to provide another major
boost to the nascent standard, attracted by the way it can prevent a
browser having to rely on third-party software like Adobe Flash or
Microsoft Silverlight to display video or interactive media.
Apple made it clear that the iPad and the iPhone will never run Flash,
the Adobe software used by an estimated 99 per cent of internet
connected machines to deliver video and other content.
It was seen by many commentators as a move that would prevent buyers
of the iPad from fully experiencing the web. But while turning its
back on Flash, Apple is embracing HTML5. As a result many large
producers of web content are also embracing it. And why not - the new
standard will make putting video, audio or even games into a
webpage as simple as embedding images.
Despite six years in the making, HTML5 is still not fully baked. A
consortium of web programmers, web enthusiasts and academics is still
finalising its exact shape and wrestling with both the big questions
like how to free the web of third-party plug-ins and thousands of
minutiae, ranging from how windows open to how links are displayed.
Major debates about its final form are still raging, such as which
format is best for video, but every day brings us closer to the day
when we need only open one program to do anything we want.
Technical telepathy: 09969636745
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