Friday, January 27, 2012

Yahoo's HTML5 Tools

Last August I wrote about the way HTML5 would accelerate the transition of the Web from static to dynamic content, from a document model to a programming environment. Now, via Slashdot, we learn of Yahoo's plans to open-source most of their tools for publishing HTML5. Details below the fold.

These tools aim to provide a "write once, run everywhere" capability for developers of apps for the Web. Content is developed once in Javascript and HTML5. It can run in a browser, but also as an app in environments such as iOS and Android. When a user invokes an app, such as Yahoo's Livestand, what they are actually doing is invoking what Yahoo calls a "chromeless" browser, an app that is generic in the way a browser is, in that it is the same irrespective of the content. Unlike a browser, the chromeless browser provides no user interface, just a Javascript VM and a rendering engine. This downloads and runs the content, just as a browser would, but allows the content developer total control over the user experience. Yahoo's tools also address one major problem with this approach, the amount of code that needs to be downloaded and run at the client before the user experience is functional. They run the code at the server first to provide an initial, simplified user interface that runs while the full version is being downloaded and executed.

As I've been saying for some time, techniques like this are making our current approaches to collecting and preserving Web content less and less effective as time goes by. It is time to invest in some R&D.

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