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HTML5 Fork Could Raise Developer Concerns


7087270549 c5cc2e9bc3When stories emerged last week about a split developing between the two standards bodies charged with defining the HTML5 standard, it would have been natural for developers who have been trying to keep ahead of the curve to worry, but it could be that the standards bodies have less impact than you think on the browser developers.

For some background, stories began surfacing last week that the two main standards bodies, the WC3 (World Wide Web Consortium) and the WHATWG (Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group) had reached a parting of the ways. As Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols wrote on HP I/O, WHATWG was developing what they call " the canonical description" and WC3 was more focused on "developing a snapshot" using the tried and true process they have followed over the years.

Vaughan-Nichols said it sounded like a fork to him, but does it matter to developers? That's the key question. Todd Anglin, vice president for HTML5 Web and Mobile Tools at Telerik, a provider of productivity tools for software developers, says there's probably nothing to worry about here.

"With the recent “split” between the W3C and WHATWG, there are fears that this change will lead to an “HTML5 fork” or chaos for developers. Instead, it is a good time to step back and remember that standards bodies like the W3C and WHATWG have very little impact on the version of “HTML5” shipping in browsers," he explained.

He says it's really up to the browser developers to work this out and as long as you can work across browsers, there won't be anything to worry about. "A standards body ultimately produces a recommendation, not a browser. For standards to matter, it remains the commitment of browser authors, like Google, Apple, Microsoft, and Mozilla, to ship browser features that interoperate. And there is no indication that commitment is changing," Anglin said.

Meanwhile, J. Schwan,  founder and president of Solstice Consulting, a mobility consulting firm says it's true, it's about the browsers, but he thinks it could slow browser development around HTML5 and this could make cell phone app development environments more important. "What this does mean is the pace of browser adoption/standardization of web technology capabilities may further decrease; therefore mobile web capabilities will continue to lag behind native mobile software development kits (i.e. iOS SDK, Android SDK). Over time, this will further widen the gap between native mobile app and mobile web capabilities, continuing to make native apps the preferred end user experience," Scwan said.

Anglin is not so sure about that, saying that the approach browser developers choose to use has a lot to do with the pace of the HTML5 development and some of it at least will continue to be rapid. "The most likely impact of this decision will be different definitions of “HTML5 ready.” As we already see today, companies like Google and Mozilla race into the future, implementing and “standardizing” new HTML5 features aggressively, and they will use the WHATWG definition of HTML5 to define a “HTML5 ready” browser. Meanwhile, Microsoft is likely to continue its slower pace of evolution with Internet Explorer, and they will find shelter in the W3C’s snapshot to claim IE is HTML5 ready."

Whatever happens to the HTML5 standard development from here on out, it does appear to be taking two different approaches. That could help app development environments as Schwan thinks, or it could be be as Anglin thinks more of a browser issue with little impact on developers. Time will tell.

Graphic by codepo8 on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons License.

5 Links for Developers and IT Pros 7-27-12


5 at Frankfurt AirportIt's Friday and that means it's time for our weekly feature where we search the Web looking for 5 interesting, funny and poignant links for developers and IT Pros.

If you missed our other post this week, No Surprise Mobile Programmers Making Big Bucks, please check it out. The Boston Globe recently ran a slide show of what it considered surprising 6 figure jobs. Mobile programmer was at the top of the list, but given the special skills required and the demand for talent, it hardly seems surprising.

Please consider subscribing if you like what you see here, and if you have something to say, please feel free to leave a comment and let us know what you think.

And without further delay, here we go with this week's links:

Vint Cerf, Vampire Slayer | Input Output

Vint Cerf helped develop the protocols that created the Internet as we know it, so when he speaks you should listen. In this piece Cerf warns that the forces that brought you SOPA and PIPA, continue to try and undermine Internet freedom, and we must remain vigilant. He also talked about Al Gore's role in the development of the commercial Internet, international Internet growth and more.

Microsoft fixes 'big boobs' coding gaffe | BBC

Apparently some juvenile programmers decided to use this phrase every time they ran Microsoft's tool designed to work with Linux. The code name came to light when Linux developers discovered it, and Microsoft removed it. Needless to say it left them embarassed and further prolonged the programmer 'boy's club' stereotype.

HTML5: To Fork or Not to Fork | HP Input Output

Two groups, WC3 and WHATWG, have created a fork that has the potential to create two versions of the yet-to-be-defined HTML5 standard. It's hard to say if this is a simple division of labor where the two groups will eventually come together, or if it actually represents a philosophical split about how to develop the final standard. For now, we can only watch.

Closed for Business | Matt Gemmell

Matt Gemell brings up the problem of piracy in the Android software world, a problem that he claims is driving many Android developers out of business or forcing them to change their delivery model. He blames easy piracy, at least partly due to the open nature of the platform (even though he says he's an open source advocate), on reducing the motivation of developers to create for-profit programs for Android. Have a look. It's a compelling read.

5 Ways to Think Wisely in Development | Java Code Geeks

This post offers some sound advice to programmers on things to consider when making development decisions. When you read them, you may find that most of them apply to any decisions, not just programming design and development issues.

Bonus Link: 12 Outdated Songs Rewritten for Today’s Tech | Laptop Magazine

And finally, a bit of technology news fun as one writer takes 12 classic pop songs and rewrites the lyrics to remove outdated references (such as instead of Take a Letter Maria, address it to my wife; it's compose a text Siri). Have a look. It's a fun exercise.

Photo by Ron Miller Used under Creative Commons Share Alike/Attribution License.

Industry Group Hopes Economic Clout Can Force Cloud Standards

3085791395 15651dc206 mWhat happens when 280 large organizations representing $100 billion a year in IT spending band together to force cloud vendors to adhere to a set of established standards for doing business? Chances the smart ones stand up and take notice and that's what the Open Center Data Alliance (OCDA) is hoping to do.
Information Week reported on the group recently, saying that five main companies --  Lockheed Martin, China Life, Deutsche Bank, CapGemini, the Australia National Bank, and over 250 other similarly high powered organizations -- had joined forces in the hopes of forcing cloud vendors to adopt a series of standards that make it easier for member companies to work with various cloud companies to find a common way to evaluate requests for proposals (RFP) and requests for information (RFI).
Andrew R. Hickey writing for CRN  wrote the group wanted to define what it saw as the most urgent requirements for companies buying services from cloud vendors:
"The goal is to enable federation, agility and efficiency across cloud computing while identifying specific innovations in secure federation, automation, common management and policy and solution transparency to spur the widespread adoption of cloud services," Hickey wrote.

It's a worthy goal and IT Pros everywhere should be shouting a hearty Huzzah! over this move because it could be the kick in the pants that the cloud industry needs that establishes a starting point for discussion for everyone involved.

The group has outlined 8 broad service areas--Secure Monitoring, Secure Provider Assurance, IO Control, VM Interoperability, Regulatory Framework, Carbon Footprint, Service Catalogue and Standard Unit of Measure for IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service)--with their requirements for each one. The idea is to give members a set of clear, consistent guidelines on which to base their purchase decisions. If everyone holds the vendors' feet to the fire, the theory goes, then cloud vendors will have no choice but to comply.
But trying to get more than 250 companies, all of course operating with their own requirements and needs, to adhere to these requirements as written will be no easy task. Still, it's a good starting point and the member companies should be applauded for setting up some sort of cloud purchasing baseline for both vendor and customer purposes.
As the Information Week article pointed out however, the cloud vendors were conspicuously missing from OCDA's member rolls and that could limit the group's effectiveness in the long run. Still, given the pure economic clout of these organizations, whether they like it or not, it would seem to be in cloud vendor's best interest to at least acknowledge the group's goals and work with them to come up with a set of options that can work for everyone.

For now, at the very least we have starting point for discussion of these issues. That in itself is a positive move, but it can't stop there if it is to be successful. Member companies have to stay engaged and companies have to work closely with the cloud vendors to establish reachable goals while keeping pressure on them to provide what they feel they need to operate successfully in the cloud.

Photo by Shoes on Wires on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons License.
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