Perspectives on the Evolution of HTML


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This was my presentation at HTML5 DevConf this year, focused on the past, present and future of HTML, from someone who's been involved since 1996!

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  • Some perhaps best forgotten (SMIL)It’s not about me
  • At this point in time, it’s important to note, Doug Crockford had never heard of Javascript!
  • It seems odd to talk about separation of content and presentation in 2013!
  • lower case and upper case was a big deal!
  • Enough said.
  • What’s missing?Where are Xpath and Xquery? RDF?This specification is a kitchen sink full of technologies for the Web. – what wg website
  • All of the original golas of modularization have been achieved.HTML5 is a reasonably straightforward advance of the ideas in the modularization schemeEvery Web page is converted to XHTML and parsed that way
  • “A Riddle, Wrapped in a Mystery, Inside an Enigma”Can’t we do better than this?Seriously.
  • This isn’t exactly news, but combined with all of the other changes discussed here, it’s starting to be real.
  • Applications need programming interfaces. DohChanges at the Protocol LevelSPDY, QUIC, JSON, MoreA New Threading ModelWebWorkers are much more powerful than we yet realizeA New Application-based Development Model
  • Perspectives on the Evolution of HTML

    1. 1. erspectives on the Evolution of HTML Daniel Austin PayPal, Inc. HTML5 DevConf Oct. 23, 2013 V 1.1
    2. 2. My Love-Hate Relationship With HTML • Originally an innocent physicist • I became involved in the WWW, and it’s been all downhill ever since • Member of the HTML WG @ W3C since 1996 (with some gaps) • Member of 14 other W3C Working Groups since 1998 – XML Core, XSLT, Web Services Architecture, Web Performance, and a lot of others
    3. 3. HTML’s Evolution XHTML 2.0 (2006 HTML 5.1 (2016) What WG Draft (2009) HTML 5.0 (2014) 2005 Source: Vlad Alexander 2010 2015 HTML 6? (2020) 2020
    4. 4. The Browser Wars (1996) • JavaScript and CSS and Divs, Oh My! • Not to mention JSSS and <layer> • A time of much innovation and change • But nobody won
    5. 5. The Role of HTML as a Display Format (1998) • From W3C’s Future of HTML Workshop 1998 • HTML modeled on PostScript • Argued for better layout • Targeting specific devices • Horribly Embarrassing: – HTML+CSS+JS slideshow didn’t work! • The paper later proved to be influential
    6. 6. The Role of HTML as a Display Format (2013) Source: Andy Gryc, QNX
    7. 7. The Arrival of XML • ‘Bringing Rationality’ to the WWW • Naive Thinking: 6 months (!) • Never Intended to ‘kill HTML’ XML Core XSLT XLink XSchema
    8. 8. XML’s Impact on HTML Wins Losses • XHTML is probably the most successful spec ever • Improved the overall quality and reliability of the WWW • XML remains central to the Web’s architecture • Xquery/Xpath/Xlink/XSD/ XSLT not as successful • Verbosity and parsing not well-suited for mobile devices • JSON rises as an alternative
    9. 9. How the Sausage Was Made • ‘XMLifying’ HTML was a huge task… • …and led to a lot of heartache • Compromises had to be made; no one was satisfied • 1999: HTML 4.01 • 2000: XHTML 1.0 • 2001: XHTML 1.1 (Modularization) …and then a long break
    10. 10. Standards Take Forever 11 Years, 3 Months, 22 days!!!
    11. 11. The WhatWG and the Why • After Modularization was completed, HTML had a mid-life crisis • Everyone wanted more from HTML, faster • XHTML 2.0 Wasn’t Working, so we got HTML5 • Eventually, the spirit of reason prevailed, and WhatWG and W3C continue to live happily ever after
    12. 12. Current State of the HTML 5 Spec Specification FPWD LC CR PR Rec HTML5 N/A 2011 Q2 2012 Q4 2014 Q4 2014 Q4 HTML 5.1 2012 Q4 2014 Q3 2015 Q1 2016 Q4 2016 Q4
    13. 13. A Federated Model for HTML Core HTML5 Canvas 2D This is XHTML 1.1 HTML Markup Web Workers HTML Media Web Sockets IndexDB Web Storage Source: Sergey Mavrody c. 2013
    14. 14. The Co-Evolution of HTML, JS, CSS, and XML XML Core XSLT XSD Xpath/XQuery Document Object Model Javascript… JSON… Source: Sergey Mavrody c. 2013
    15. 15. My Own Reasoning on Modularization Modularization Worked HTML5 is Fully Modularized
    16. 16. The Contraptionary Nature of the Web “The amazing thing about the Web isn’t how well it works, but that it works at all” George Bernard Shaw “This specification is a kitchen sink full of technologies for the Web.” WhatWG HTML5 Web site
    17. 17. Tower of Babel: A Problem We Have Yet to Solve
    18. 18. Mobile Technology is Driving HTML’s Evolution • HTML5 is designed for mobile – Most new users are mobile users • Many of HTML5’s coolest innovations came from mobile considerations • This may require leaving hypertext and documents behind
    19. 19. The Line Between Applications and Documents is Blurring • Convergence at the hardware, software, and standards levels – Chromebook, Firefox OS – Native application performance still considerably better than browser+HTML – HTML5’s Web Storage, IndexDB and WebWorker specs are largely aimed at providing application functionality to HTML
    20. 20. The Rise of the API • This is a straightforward consequence of the separation of functionality and appearance, no mystery here • A significant proportion of HTTP traffic is for application traffic • Often JSON and/or HTML5 fragments • Paradoxically often still document-based (REST) • Together with other trends, allows us to move toward a more application-based development model
    21. 21. Predictions for the Future of HTML The Bar to Entry Will Get Higher XHTML Isn’t Going Away Applications Will Rule Hypertext is Past It’s Sell-By HTML Will Continue to Metastasize
    22. 22. What About WWW Values? • Are We Making the Bar Too High? – We want the Web to be for everyone • Can We Move Beyond Our Origins (and Still Retain the Spirit of the WWW?) • Can We Continue to Evolve Naturally? – The Co-evolution of many interlocking standards is a daunting task Are We Making the World a Better Place?
    23. 23. About:HTML “…a single user-interface to many large classes of stored information such as reports, notes, data-bases, computer documentation and on-line systems help” WorldWideWeb: Proposal for a HyperText Project Berners-Lee & Caillau, 1990
    24. 24. See you at HTML6 DevConf! Daniel Austin PayPal, Inc. HTML5 DevConf Oct. 23, 2013 @daniel_b_austin