Moving to the HTML5 Web

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2010-03-16 Print this article Print


Ted Johnson, founder of Visio and partner program manager for Internet Explorer, reiterated that top goals for the IE team were to deliver interoperable HTML5 markup so that HTML and CSS markup could be interpreted the same way and that JavaScript would run the same way. And another major goal was to deliver GPU-powered HTML5 graphics and media. "You have this piece of hardware whose whole purpose if to decode video, use that." Hachamovitch said.

Johnson said he believes the world is moving from a Web 1.0 world of content focused on HTML and CSS, to the Web 2.0 AJAX Web, and now to the HTML5 Web, which is graphically- and media rich.

Meanwhile, Johnson said Microsoft also is supporting SVG in its IE9 Platform Preview. "SVG is a huge spec; we're not doing it all in this preview but we're doing a lot of it," he said.

Johnson said Microsoft will support SVG 1.1 and in IE9 will support document structure, basic shapes, paths, text, transforms, painting, filling and color, scripting, styling, gradients and patterns, clipping and mashing, and markers and symbols. However, IE9 will not support SVG fonts, declarable animation or filter effects, he said.

Patrick Denglar, senior program manager for Internet Explorer and Microsoft's representative on the World Wide Web Consortium's (W3C) SVG Working Group, said he sees a convergence between the worlds of HTML5, CSS and SVG, and Microsoft is taking advantage of it.

"The future of SVG is Web development," Denglar said. SVG is changing with HTML5 and CSS for this next big wave of Web development."

Microsoft has been criticized for re-joining the W3C SVG working group in January of 2010, but having made any concrete statements about its plans for using the technology. Now Microsoft has made its splash, even creating a Facebook group known as IE SVG.

Both Mauceri and Weber said the IE team monitors a group of 30 sites daily to measure the browser's performance against because they represent the coding patterns of the Web -- and if the company can improve performance across these sites it becomes easier to improve performance overall. Moreover, rather than simply interpreting JavaScript. IE9 actually compiles the code with its new JavaScript engine, Weber said. This is particularly useful with multicore machines, where the first core is used to load a site and the second core is used to compile the JavaScript down to native machine code. This kind of hardware-accelerated performance is helping to set IE9 apart, Weber said.

To help speed up JavaScript performance, Microsoft delivered a brand new JavaScript engine, known as Chakra.

In a blog post about the moves, Hachamovitch said:

"To improve JavaScript performance even more, Chakra does something quite different from other script engines today. It has a separate background thread for compiling JavaScript. Windows runs that thread in parallel on a separate core when one is  available. Compiling in the background enables users to keep interacting with Web pages while IE generates even faster code.  By running separately in the background, this process can take advantage of today's multi-core machines - so, users with a Core2Duo or QuadCore or i7 can apply that power to making Web pages faster without any additional effort."

Meanwhile, Microsoft continues to take criticism for not faring well in Web standard tests such as Acid 3 and Google's Sputnik.

"As we support more of the markup our Acid 3 score will go up," Hachamovitch said. "Acid 3 is a proxy many people look at as standards compliance. But there are other ways to look at it."


Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.

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