Learning more about Pointer Events as the W3C publishes Last Call Working Draft

February 27th, 2013

On Tuesday February 19, the W3C published the Pointer Events specification as a Last Call Working Draft, a significant milestone in the path towards standardization and interoperability. Begun a little over 3 months ago, the specification aims to help developers more easily enable a new generation of Web experiences that work across input devices, such as touch, pen, and mouse. We’re pleased with the progress thus far in the W3C and wanted to share some of the latest resources available to help you build sites and applications for touch, pen, and mouse input using the APIs available in IE10 today.

Learning about touch-first Web design and Pointer Events

Pointer Events represent a new way to approach input in sites. As such, we want to help developers learn about the technology and how to build compelling experiences with it. Through our engagement with documentation, program manager Rob Dolin has added an extensive new primer that walks through Pointer Events and provides basic examples on how to get started.

Additionally, I was pleased to have the opportunity to speak at W3Conf in San Francisco, CA about touch-first design and Pointer Events. If you weren’t able to attend, the talk is available to watch online. This talk covers basic touch-first guidelines, and introduction to Pointer Events, and a walkthrough of migration from mouse events to Pointer Events.

If you’re not inspired yet to try out Pointer Events, here’s a few great Web experiences that use Pointer Events for a touch-first experience, with more to come in the future:

Using Pointer Events Today

IE10 supports Pointer Events (vendor prefixed) and enables you to take advantage of the millions of touch enabled Windows 8 devices in the market. “Same markup” continues to be our goal, and standardization is just one of the ways we’re helping make that a reality. In addition, Microsoft Open Technologies, Inc. (a subsidiary of Microsoft) has been collaborating with the WebKit community to produce an open source prototype patch of Pointer Events for the WebKit project. Web developers can take this early prototype for a spin using a Chromium build with Pointer Events released by AppendTo.

To further help Web developers take advantage of Pointer Events today, David Catuhe from Microsoft France has developed a JavaScript polyfill, called HandJS, to support Pointer Events in multiple browsers. Developers can include the script library in their page and write to the Pointer Event model to get the full experience of Pointer Events in IE10 and a graceful emulation in other browsers. David also has a demo to help you get started.

We look forward to the road ahead in standardizing Pointer Events as the Working Group moves towards the next milestone, Candidate Recommendation.

— Jacob Rossi, Program Manager, Internet Explorer