Standardizing HTML6 through the W3C – My Trip to TPAC 2010

December 2nd, 2010

The W3C working groups, across the board, are making progress completing the important next generation of web standards, getting key specifications to last call, and a focus on defining the test suites for measuring the completeness of implementations. At the same time, there is renewed focus on innovating for the future of the web at the W3C.

I attended as a representative of Microsoft and a member of the Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) Working Group.

Once per year the W3C Community gathers together Working Groups, Interest Groups and invited guests for a week of technical discussions.

For the Technical Plenary day, all attendees gathered in one room to discuss various technical topics of “significant importance to past, present and future of the World Wide Web Consortium”. During the session, I presented a paper entitled HTML6: HTML + SVG + CSS. I talked about how as a group, the members of the W3C, represent the broader web developer community, and therefore have an obligation to serve that community by creating an interoperable Web platform and delivering it in a timely manner.

On Thursday, the CSS Working Group joined a discussion with the SVG working group to focus on complementary, but incompatible, features that crossed both CSS and SVG. There is a growing consensus that the next generation of SVG will mostly be in the context of an HTML page – something that the HTML5 specification calls out, and that is necessary to create a cohesive experience that leverages Web developers’ existing skills. There is a lot of interest and activity in the intersection of CSS and SVG. For example, some browser vendors have experimentally implemented CSS features such as transforms, transitions, animations, filter effects, and gradients. SVG has had most of these technologies for over a decade, but they are incongruent with what Web developers expect.

The SVG and CSS Working Group attendees discussed each of these areas, identified area experts as owners, and established timelines for delivering transforms (possibly combining 2D and 3D), transitions and animations, filter effects and gradients. The end goal is that Web Developers will have an interoperable set of features they can depend upon, and browser vendors will have a stable platform to implement.

The Working Groups continued with this momentum and resolved additional integration issues with SVG, CSS, and HTML.

The integration of SVG into HTML paired with CSS seems to be well defined, but would definitely benefit from more conformance tests. The Working Groups will collaborate to build tests for cross SVG, CSS, and HTML scenarios into the HTML testing infrastructure. Additionally, some browsers are investigating how to simplify the SVG DOM to make it more closely resemble the HTML DOM experience that is expected by Web developers.

We’re excited about the approach the SVG Working group, in partnership with other Working Groups, is taking to drive and complete this consolidation by applying engineering principles. These principles include establishing Scenarios and Use Cases, prioritizing features that offer focus, delivering tests together with specifications, and aligning delivery dates across feature sets. The Working Groups have tentatively agreed that we could stabilize all of these specifications by June, 2011.

It is great to be a part of the progress happening at the W3C, across a broad range of important web standards, including SVG and CSS. The large amount of activity in all the face-to-face meetings generates a lot of follow-on work. There is much for the web community and working groups to do together in the year ahead. We’ll continue to provide updates on the progress in these areas on the IE blog.

Patrick Dengler
Senior Program Manager
Internet Explorer