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Conference Presentation: Web Standards and The Future of The Web

I had the opportunity to speak at the Meet The Makers conference in San Francisco recently. The subject of the panel discussion was Web Standards and the Future of the Web. Though the format of the discussion was more an open "interview" style discussion, I put together a few slides showing some of the future directions in browsing technology from and Netscape. The goal was to assemble material that could be easily shared in around 5 minutes.

Presentation Outline

Below are some of the broad themes of my talk.

Look How Far We've Come

Early in the talk, I discuss how far along the implementation of standards has come. The adherence of major browsers to the W3C DOM lends itself well to a world in which web applications can be written using the standards and expect to run well on standards compliant browsers. I showed a demo of one such web application.

The Amazon Books Demo is the artist's impression of what Amazon's website might look like if it were entirely done in XML and CSS. The demo works well in IE 5.5 SP2 and above, and on any version of a Netscape Gecko-based browser such as Netscape 7. Note that I'm using meaningful data such as a book tag and an author tag, and on that meaningful data I'm performing data-driven operations in JavaScript (DOM Core API).

SOAP: Web Services and User Agents

Netscape 7 already offers a low-level Web Services API (based on SOAP) and this API is exposed to web-page served JavaScript. You now have a SOAPCall object (and you can make invocations of the sort var access = new SOAPCall( )). What does Web Services mean in the context of a web browser? I present a demo of an imaginary web application of a status reporting tool, which makes calls via the low-level SOAP API to a well known Web Service -- the Google Web Service for spell checking. We see such SOAP calls as an innovation in web browsing. Such APIs give us a chance to make lightweight data-driven connections to backends. A data-driven connection is not hampered with presentational information, and can be lightweight and fast.

The presentation doesn't go into details about the actual code used. Far more instructional references on the SOAP API in Mozilla can be found in the references section.

Caveat Emptor:

Namespaces and User-agents

Lastly, I presented the notion of how XML allows formats useful to a variety of other people to be rendered by capable user-agents. This part of the demo requires the CrocZilla browser on Windows, which is a build of the Mozilla browser that supports both inline SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) and inline MathML (Mathematics Markup Language). Note that Netscape 7 supports MathML, but not SVG. The demo running in CrocZilla shows HTML, MathML, SVG, and even CML (Chemistry Markup Language) existing in one document. The CML support on parade here comes to us via CrocZilla's support for SVG, XBL (XML Binding Language), and CSS. The point here is the potency of SVG's dynamic rastering capabilities, and the future that this allows in terms of various formats in meaningful XML, which can then be styled with the standard XML styling mechanisms (CSS or XSLT) and manipulated via DOM. Observe how the image of the lion scales on the client side -- it's all markup! This image is thanks to Steve Bowen's innovations on the skeeter-s site.


You can view the HTML based slide presentation I used. You can find navigation hyper links to move between slides on the bottom of each slide. These slides are composed of Valid HTML and CSS and were designed to be shown using a browser which fully supporting CSS positioning (especially the right and bottom CSS properties on absolutely positioned elements).