WAF and WebAPI are dead. Long Live WebApps Working Group!

The charters of both  the W3C Web Application Formats and WebAPI Working Groups have now expired (as of the 15th of November, 2007) meaning they are effectively dead (although still twitching!). From their ashes will rise a new merged working group called the Web Applications Working group… hopefully by the 31 of January.

According to the new proposed charter, the missions of the new working group is to:

…is to provide specifications that enable improved client-side application development on the Web, including specifications both for application programming interfaces (APIs) for client-side development and for markup vocabularies for describing and controlling client-side application behavior.

The new Web Applications Working Group is chartered with the continual development of the following specifications:

Specification FPWD LC CR PR Rec
ClipOps spec 2007-Q2 2008-Q4 2009-Q2 2009-Q4 2010
DOM 3 Core bis spec          
DOM 3 Events spec 2007-Q2 2008-Q2 2008-Q4 2009-Q4 2010
Element Traversal spec 2007-Q2 2007-Q4 2008-Q2 2008-Q4 2008
Access Control spec 2006-Q2 2008-Q1 2008-Q3 2009-Q4 2010
File Upload spec 2007-Q2 2008-Q2 2008-Q4 2009-Q4 2010
Language Bindings spec 2007-Q2 2008-Q2 2008-Q4 2009-Q4 2010
MAXIM spec 2008-Q1 2008-Q3 2008-Q4 2009-Q2 2009
Network API spec 2008-Q2 2009-Q1 2009-Q3 2010-Q2 2010
Progress Events spec 2007-Q2 2008-Q2 2008-Q3 2009-Q2 2009
Selectors API spec 2007-Q2 2007-Q4 2008-Q2 2008-Q4 2008
XHR Object spec 2007-Q2 2008-Q2 2008-Q4 2009-Q4 2010
Widgets spec 2006-Q4 2008-Q4 2009-Q1 2009-Q3 2009-Q4
Widgets Requirements 2006-Q3 2008-Q4 2009-Q1 2009-Q3 2009-Q4
Window Object spec 2007-Q2 2008-Q2 2008-Q4 2009-Q4 2010
XBL2 spec 2006-Q2 2010 2011 2013 2013
XBL2 Primer 2007-Q3 2010 2011 2013 2013

Another cool thing about the new working group is that it is modeled on the HTML Working Group, meaning that is open, transparent (no secret chats on the members list) and anyone will be able to participate via the public mailing list.

I’ll continue to edit the Widget Spec and Requirements, and possibly continue to help out with the XBL Primer.  I’ll continue to be part of this new working group for a least 1 year, as I my PhD program ends in March 2009… and hopefully longer, if someone gives me a job to continue working on specs! 😉

HTML5 to be published by W3C

According to this email by Dan Connolly (HTML-WG chair), HTML5 will be finally published as a First Public Working Draft (FPWD) by the W3C on the 26th of Feb January 22, 2008. Microsoft has been mainly responsible about stalling the publication of HTML5 because of their concerns over <canvas> and its related graphics API. On various occasions, Microsoft argued that the graphics API was out outside the scope of the HTML WG charter and that they would have to look at the legal implications.

In the email, Dan Connolly wrote:

... and adding 3 months, we get: 2007-11-26 + 3 months = 2007-02-26
for a deadline for publication for the HTML 5 specification.

The W3C Director, Tim Berners-Lee, sees no reason why this
working group should be excused further from the three-month
heartbeat rule, and further, encourages us to publish sooner
if at all possible.

I still think it’s really disappointing that it’s going to take a further two months to publish the document. I was personally wishing it would be published for XMas (a nice present for the web community!). A FPWD is important for both marketing reasons and legal reasons: when a FPWD, all sorts of legal things in the W3C process go into effect. From a marketing perspective, it will be good as lots of media attention. However, from a technical perspective, a FPWD is irrelevant because of the rate at which HTML5 is being edited by Hixie (on a daily, if not hourly basis). The latest draft of the HTML5 document is always available to anyone either via the WHATWG site or theW3C CVS repository.

Update: In a follow-up email, Hixie sees no reason not to publish the document straight away! He writes “Cool. Since we are encouraged to publish sooner rather than later, and since there doesn’t appear to be any reason for us not to publish immediately, I have prepared the document for Working Draft publication.” If we are lucky, we might see the document published for xmas! 🙂

Update: According this post by to Anne van Kesteren, the publication wheels are now in motion: Mike(tm) Smith sent the request for publication earlier today! Now pending Chris Lilley‘s approval… will Chris be the scrooge that ruins christmas?Lets hope not.

Update: No HTML for xmas I am afraid… In this email, Mike(tm) Smith writes, “after discussion with others on the team, the target publication date I’m requesting for the First Public Working Draft of the HTML5 specification is January 22.”

“OMG, I’m a server!”: widgets and the exciting future of mobiles

I’ve been doing my fair share of traveling lately. I went to the W3C TPAC in Boston, which was great, and I just got back from vacation in Tropical North Queensland (Port Douglas) a few days ago. I went whitewater rafting, and snorkeling in the (sadly dyingGreat Barrier Reef, got to swim with a turtle, and some sharks.

While I was in Boston for the TPAC, I bought myself an IPod touch and a Nokia N95. The first thing I did when I got my iPod was to jail break it. I have to say, the iPod touch is simply awesome… however, I wont go into a rant because I don’t want to expose myself too much as an Apple fanboy:) The first thing that struck me as I was navigating the list of apps to install on the jail broken iPhone was the availability of the Apache Web Server and PHP. When I saw that, I instantly thought “OMG! this changes everything: I am a server!”. Sure enough, I installed them and they worked. I got my friends from Australia to log onto my IPod – very cool! It was only a few weeks later that I heard that Nokia was also going to release a phone with Apache, PHP, and MySQL (APM) which I’m keen to try out on my N95. I think this is a significant development while we wait for the standardization and eventual implementation of HTML5 (which will provide similar functionality).

Putting aside all security and privacy concerns for a minute, I think the idea of everyone now being a web server is a very exciting and disruptive innovation. Imagine a widgets ecosystem that intertwines phones and desktops and integrate ideas from social networking and the unique aspects of the mobile in a single container (widgets).

I don’t know what Nokia is going to do with their APM phones (and I am sure that Apple Iphone/IPod and Google Android will both feature web servers really soon), but here is a simple future scenario: I buy a new phone with the APM capability. When I connect the phone to the internet, people can access the phone via its IP address (which kinda sucks, but fixable… more on this later). Pre-installed with the phone is a widget engine, which allows the user to either manually install widgets or use pre-installed widgets. The widget engine provides an admin interface, accessible only via, say, “http://widgetengine/” or something, which allows me to add/customize/remove widgets. Widgets in this contexts are little PHP apps, packaged to conform with the widgets 1.0 spec. Lets says the default widget that ships with the phone is a Nokia-build one that shows some info about the phone, and generates a photo gallery of the pictures stored on the device.  Although impressive, is not really of much use to me because everyone I care about is on Facebook ( or some OpenSocial network).

Given that the phone has a widget engine that runs on top of the server, a developer could create a Facebook widget that gathers all the phone numbers and details from my facebook friends list and packages them into a widgets. When the widget is installed, all those phone numbers and details get stored into the MySQL database. I can then ask the widget to either SMS or simply message, via Facebook, all the preferred contacts to let them know that my phone server is up. Better still, the widget, via PHP, can monitor the phone to see when it is assigned an IP address, and automatically connect to Facebook to let my contacts know that I am online. From there, my contacts can check out, for example, photos that I have just taken on my phone or other things the widget may allow viewers to do.

The things that I would want to share as a user (my profile: things that define me publicly as an individual and associate me as part of a group) and some simple app ideas:

  • My location (exact (gps) or derived (eg. brisbane) or abstract (eg. the office))
    • Apps: Where am I now? Where I’ve been (recently, travelling, etc)? What exercise path did I take (and times, calories burnt)?
  • My pictures (sortable, in sets, searchable)
    • Apps: my picture gallery; my picture gallery and with pictures taken from similar location (eg. mix locally stored pictures with flickr)
  • My music (what I’ve got on my device, what I am listening to right now)
    • App: my music and music people around me are listening to?
  • My details (maybe my social wants and needs. link to my blog online)
    • App: a dating widget? Syndication of my blog combined with my locally stored pictures?

The effect of these apps is very interesting because it means that I can bypass services such as flickr, or I can integrate both flickr and my phone. I can also merge the means of communication with my contacts, via SMS or the web.

These applications require additional infrastructure to connect me to other users:

  • Global peer-to-peer infrastructure: when my phone connects to the internet, I want my contacts to know about it!
  • Local peer-to-peer infrastructure: when my phone connects to the internet in this place, let those near me know: eg, for playing location-based games, or other multiplayer games; or, for example, for letting people know at this place that I’ve arrived.

This also requires a place where phone widgets are distributed by developers and scrutinized by the community for security and quality.

The future looks pretty nice if AMP enabled phones and services take off…. and if the security and privacy issues are handled with care.