[AI] One web language to rule them all

Sanjay 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


Wider web

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


iPad pronouncement

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.

Bold move

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
Saints are not always saints; sinners are not always sinners.

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