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Our Top Ten HTML5 Wishes for 2011

December 31, 2010 | Michael Mullany

Our Top Ten HTML5 Wishes for 20112010 has been a fantastic year for HTML5* (* and we mean HTML5 in the broadest sense, including CSS3, the HTML5 satellite specs and all the other technologies that have been bundled under the HTML5 banner). All mobile OS's are now shipping or about to ship HTML5 browsers with the exception of Windows Mobile. And to everyone's great surprise, IE9 is shaping up to be a fairly decent HTML5 browser too. But there's still a lot of work still to do. As the new year approaches, we're taking a stab at a HTML5 wish list for 2011. Some of these are web standards wishes, and the rest are browser wishes, so we just mixed them all in together and put them in a rough order of priority. So without further ado, here's what we'd like to see from the W3C, WhatWG and the browser makers this year:

10. Sustained effort to move more -webkit effects into CSS3

Although WebKit has become the modern mobile device standard, we'd still like to rely a little less on -webkit extensions to get our job done. Although many -webkit extensions have made their way onto standards track over the last year there are still notable exceptions that need to get there. WebKit masks and background clipping to text are just a couple of the CSS3 effects we'd really really like to see in W3C working drafts in 2011. They're incredibly useful effects that we shouldn't need SVG or Canvas to accomplish. CSS3

9. CSS3: A Richer Effects Toolbox

Blur effects (including motion blurs and filters) have been on the CSS wishlist since 1998. We can now do shadow blurs within WebKit, Mozilla and Opera, but we should have at least block-level blurs and filters within CSS. If we're going to be able to fully replace Flash with browser technology, this is one to work on. In addition, more general support of CSS3 3D Animations (cough Android) would be excellent. Firefox and WebKit both have great gradient support but now that we have that basic support, we're hankering for more. Gradients should be transitionable (according to standards track drafts), but today's -webkit-gradients are implemented as images which can't be transitioned. Gradients as border images are also an area for work since today they don't stay within their border areas. (And we know we can duplicate any of these effects with Canvas, but the answer to every CSS feature request shouldn't be "do it with Canvas". Not to mention that Canvas still needs performance work.) Sencha Touch

8. High Performance position:fixed for mobile

One of the major reasons to use Sencha Touch is that it gives you fixed position UI elements. But in our opinion, you shouldn't need an application framework just to get this. It's starting to show up in mobile browsers, but too slowly and too slow grin This is a no-brainer for implementation in 2011.

7. GPU Acceleration

Even basic animation can over-stress your average mobile CPU, so it's crucial to offload as much processing as possible to your GPU. Apple has been working on GPU offloading since at least 2006, so there's a lot of work for the other folks to do to catch up. Look for even more work being done to offload general computation to the GPU in 2011. We'd like to see world-class GPU offloading from all the major browsers and mobile device makers this year.

6. Deeper Device Access

iOS 4.2 gave us accelerometer access from ordinary webpages on Apple devices, so next on the wish list is camera access. This is already in standards process with a solid specification, and we get this on Nokia but only as part of their web widget packaging. Once we have camera access, a whole class of applications that use cameras for everything from text recognition, to bar-code scanning to QR codes to face recognition will be able to go to the mobile web. We were promised this for Android at Google I/O - and we were hoping for it to arrive in 2.3, but now it looks like we'll have to wait for 3.0 to get it. After camera, near-field communication access would enable some pretty neat applications - but even native apps have restricted access to these today. RemoteJS debugging for Android mobile phones and touchscreen devices

5. Better debugging tools for mobile browsers

This could be on every year's list. Desktop browsers are actually now pretty good for debugging, but mobile browsers remain a black box. We did some work this year to make Android debugging a little more manageable, but we'd like to see much better debugging support baked into the mobile browsers at a fundamental level and giving us better views into memory consumption and performance.

4. Web sockets stabilization

Are we there yet with Web Sockets? Is it workable or does it still need better security? Does it have to be rewritten from scratch or just polished around the edges? Web Sockets were there and then they weren't and then they were back (sort of) in 2010. It's not the end of the world if Web Sockets get delayed, we'll just keep on using Comet or other methods, but they would certainly be a large gift to web developers if they arrived across all the major browsers. We're crossing our fingers for this in 2011.

3. IE9 With Complete CSS3 Support

Internet Explorer 9 made a huge jump into HTML5 this year (particularly with Microsoft's own Bob Muglia saying that Silverlight would essentially be deprecated in favor of HTML5 for desktop development). Our major quibble with IE9 is that it has resolutely avoided implementing the CSS3 effects that Apple has pioneered within WebKit, including animations and transitions. We'd really like to see these in the final IE9 - please don't make us wait for IE10! HTML5 video is awesome.

2. A HTML5 codec armistice

HTML5 video -- awesome. But the devil is in the details. Right now developers are looking at generating three encodings: a H.264, an Ogg Theora and a WebM version to support all the codec camps. We know there are royalty, technology and strategic issues here, but seriously, isn't it time for one high-quality, royalty free codec that everyone can ship and rely on. (And is there really that much strategic headroom left in codec technology? Perhaps so?)

1. A Reboot for WebSQL standardization

WebSQL standardization came to a grinding halt this year after Mozilla took issue with reverse engineering a spec for SQL in the browser from the SQLite implementation that Safari, Chrome and Opera is now shipping. IndexedDB now seems to be receiving the most attention as the next generation in-browser database, with both Microsoft and Mozilla backing IndexedDB as the storage mechanism of choice for large amounts of data. Mozilla says that IndexedDB is what web developers want. However, I doubt they talked to any Enterprise developers when making the decision to champion a non-relational data model as the ONLY standard for the browser. The fact is that Enterprise data-sets have lots of inter-relationships and Enterprise web apps want to work with relational data, not hierarchical b-trees. So, our last wish for HTML5 in 2011 is for a major database player (IBM? Oracle?) to collaborate with Google to develop a spec and a clean-room reimplementation of the SQL-92 subset that SQLite supports; and for WebKit to fork SQLite to provide a stable, standards-driven, open source code-base for relational data in the browser.

And all the rest...

So those are our major wishes for 2011. We had some other wishes (more sensor access, another run at standards-based privacy, noise for backgounds, Android browser improvements, text-on-a-path and more advanced text skewing, a complete implementation of the border-image spec, a concerted effort to kill the term "smartphone"...) but alas, the top 23 wishes isn't quite as catchy as the "Top 10". Did we miss anything major? We'd love to hear your feedback in the comments!

There are 28 responses. Add yours.

Jay Garcia

3 years ago

I really wish there was ONE standard for HTML5 video. .  It would be nice to see a bit of lighting/shading on the 3d CSS3 effects. smile

crisboot

3 years ago

What a crazy year!!! Everything is changing so fast. Mobile development is awesome for Android and iPhone. All the libraries are changing and generating new solutions for mobile divices, and opening their horizons to make a place for HTML5. Things like Reverse Ajax and Node.js wake me up. It’s time to boost your projects ‘cause Presentation Layer Development is growing and adapting itself to new techniques.

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3 years ago

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5. Better debugging tools for mobile browsers

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Mike Chaliy

3 years ago

>> particularly with Microsoft’s own Bob Muglia saying that Silverlight would essentially be deprecated in favor of HTML5 for desktop development

Are you joking? This is totally incorrect. Pls, listen more carefully to his speach. Or better read MS’s furhter explanations on the subject.

Cedric

3 years ago

> 1. A Reboot for WebSQL standardization

Hmm no, I was happy WebSQL died in 2010 and I can only hope its grave to be completely forgotten in 2011.

We do not need SQL inside the browser in 2011, it’s not the way the world is going forward…
If there is really a need for accessing data through a SQL syntax (let’s be real here, mostly for adapting legacy applications), it is completely possible to implement an efficient SQL layer in JavaScript on top of an IndexedDB implementation.

Christiaan

3 years ago

Like goals, wishes should be S.M.A.R.T. You’ve done so. Some might be not R, but hĂ© they’re wishes right? I wish all developers a prosperous Ext JS 4 coding year.

Awesome Bob

3 years ago

I’m with the others, this post needs to be taken down.

Craig M

3 years ago

Cor, talk about bah humbug. A blog is for posting opinions & ideas, and new year is for wishing for better. I agree with least six of the wishes above - hurrah for moving the web forward. Instead of asking for the post to be removed, wouldn’t it be preferable to contribute something constructive?

I’d wish for something that should have been in browsers ten years ago. A client-side JavaScript event that reports on the progress of an upload through the browser, so we don’t have to use ridiculous flash hacks to add a progress bar! Haven’t seen such a thing in HTML5 yet, anyone seen a spec for it?

ficeto

3 years ago

@Cedric you have IndexedDB, why should we not have SQLite? You seem to be missing the point or maybe you just don’t know how to use SQL ... Either way, if anything have to die, let it be IE smile

@Awesome Bob please leave your trolly crap somewhere else :(

For HTML5 I only want is to get it adopted faster and WebKit and Mozilla not to fight over standards as much. Maybe Mozilla needs some pushing, because it’s seriously lacking behind WebKit.

Julien

3 years ago

I really wish the input file implementation in iOS. It’s just unbelievable it’s not already done. Facebook mobile web app could be so much more fun with that. And all forms on the web btw.

Ian

3 years ago

Most of these items have nothing whatsoever to do with HTML5, so why are you calling it a “HTML5 Wishlist”?

Awesome Bob

3 years ago

Thanks Ian for helping prove my point. Everyone else, I’m not sorry that I didn’t anything constructive to contribute.

“Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” — Antoine de Saint-Exuper

Please keep your retorts to yourself.

I suggest this post is re-constructed into a more focused one that reflects the headline. On top of that, some of the numbered items in the list are not well thought out. For instance #6 just poses too many security concerns. #1 Is just bad web application programming and also a security risk. Now I’ve contributed. Please don’t cry about it.

Ariya Hidayat

3 years ago

@Awesome Bob: What kind of security concerns? Most likely the access to various device features will be implemented the way Geolocation access is handled in cuurent smartphone browsers.

Awesome Bob

3 years ago

I really shouldn’t have to explain what possible problems could arise out of malicious code making use of your device’s image or audio capturing hardware. And if you didn’t already come up with this conclusion yourself, the Geolocation “features” already inform people when you’re not home when they automatically broadcast when you’re at a restaurant or other public place. That can let criminals know there’s less of a chance that you’ll be walking in on them robbing your home. Think it out and you won’t need it explained to you.

Ariya Hidayat

3 years ago

@Awesome Bob: Please pardon my lack of understanding on the said security concerns since as a WebKit developer, I was not aware there is a case where malicous web application can steal my geolocation information even *before* I grant (or deny) the access request.

Awesome Bob

3 years ago

No worries, it’s just a matter of time before you hear/read/see a news report indicating the same. It doesn’t make much sense for a hacker or hacker group to let it be widely known that a vulnerability or exploit exists in a popular form of technology. If it was, then the ability to exploit it would cease to exist.

Normal Bob

3 years ago

Using that approach, having a plasma television, a complete stereo, an Xbox, and few laptops at home poses too many security concerns, since the door lock can be exploited and compromised by a professional thief.

Tom Limongello

3 years ago

Which Android browser improvements didn’t make the list?

AwesomeBob

3 years ago

Normal Bob, you aren’t wrong but the tv, stereo, and xbox (with some exceptions) won’t give away your identity without you knowing it. I’m talking about personal security, not property security. I worry about my Plasma TV, PS3, and sound system being stolen though. Still a valid security concern.

Michael Mullany

3 years ago

Oh wow. lots to respond to.

On security and device access: you’re already trusting that no-one can hack the browser when you load a web page, I mean browser code is just code. You have to believe that there is something inherently insecure in the permission code. The way that this is proposed to be implemented, you have to grant permission, then press a native “take photo” button in order to give a web page a photograph. It’s not much different than a web page “upload” button.

On the need for WebSQL…I was once the product manager for Netscape Directory Server, which became the iPlanet directory server, then the Sun One Directory Server, and now I suppose it’s some species of Oracle directory server. At the time (the late 90’s) we thought that directories - a classic b-tree, heavily indexed database - were going to take over the world. We were wrong. It turns out that with any sufficiently interesting data store, people want to relate a single piece of information to multiple other pieces of information. We hacked this using aliases in directories, but then, once sufficiently large numbers of aliases were created, they were extremely difficult to make fast, consistent and indexable, and they weren’t easily maintained. I’m not talking for toy-data sets of a few hundred records, but for tens of thousands of records. The relational data model is efficient and transaction friendly, and it happens to match the model that most of the world’s structured data is held-in. We should have a relational database capability in the browser.

It’s a HTML5 wishlist because that’s the best term that people sort of agree on for this next basket of browser tech, although as we’ve written before, it’s not entirely accurate since the core HTML5 spec is actually now a relatively small set of technologies after the W3C has finished spinning out many many interested techs into separate spec documents.

Android browser improvements? Too many to list but start with preventing OEM’s from kludging up the interactions between native and browser events (HTC Sense UI is the major criminal here), increasing the event dispatch rate so we can get finer touch control, turning on SVG, fixing virtual keyboard interactions with form entry…

AwesomeBob

3 years ago

I still agree with others that HTML5 is a web standard and given the content of this blog, title should be re-written.

How about “Our Top Ten Browser Improvements Wishes for 2011” ?

John Dowdell

3 years ago

My own wish, for what it’s worth, is that the need for dualities, for enemies, goes away.

(HTML and SWF have worked together for over a decade, and there is no sign of this changing. But every few years we get an acrimonious buzzword (“DHTML”, “Ajax”, “HTML5”) that divides people. Just do good work, however you choose to do it.)

jd/adobe

AwesomeBob

3 years ago

That’s not what we’re talking about hippie. raspberry

Chris Dawes

3 years ago

I like the debate on web standards, it’s better than the old days. Without debates you end up with HTML 4… half a standard and XHTML which can’t even be validated.

Flash doesn’t seem so bad when you look at the HTML5 video implementation now does it… every decent device will have flash in 2011. some things should just be done the easy way.

My wish for 2010… that people stop whinging about blurring when not that long ago we didn’t have table tags. Geez use flash already!

Christiaan

3 years ago

@Chris Dawes, but I want to use standardized components (like components in Ext JS) in UI development. Where would I start if I want to do that in flash?

AwesomeBob

3 years ago

@Christiaan
Flex.

Giulio Roggero

3 years ago

I’m totally agree with you!
Just something to add: offline support! Together with WebSQL is needed a real standard caching system with the correct implementation of the manifest smile

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