The Importance of Open

By eweek  |  Posted 2005-12-25 Print this article Print

Source"> Do you feel that there are enough people focused on building Web technologies that will support that sort of advancement?

If you look at the technology thats available to browsers now, not only have the browsers matured but the standards behind them and html as well. You have scalable vector graphics for example, which has been around for a while now, and that gives you a very different sort of feel, a very exciting dynamic feel to a Web site. Theres AJAX and xForms, and these are the type of standards that are maturing and people are really picking them up.

So, theres more technology out there which is going to make both the reading and input of data much more powerful. It would be a mistake to think that the browser is a static well-defined object as it is now. I think well see a lot more development in that area.

Firefox faces uphill battle, analysts predict. Click here to read more. With Firefox and open source, you have a technology that people can take and modify to better suit their needs or preferences. Has the growth of Firefox impressed you, versus the more closed commercial models from Microsoft and Apple?

Youre not going to get me to comment on the browser wars, but remember that we had browser wars in cycles with different people being feared as the outright winner in the past and things can change remarkably quickly. What Id say is that its healthy for the Web to be supported by a selection of open-source and commercial software.

A lot of people really want to have an arrangement to provide them with the software that is maintained, and to pay for that support. So, theres a place for the commercial software makers. But the open-source community is absolutely essential for the development of the Web. Thats very important to maintain a healthy community.

Security has become such a major issue in the browser space. What do you think needs to be done to help solve the problems related to securing widely-distributed technologies better?

The question of security has got a lot of different facets. There have been software flaws in some browsers which have been regrettable, and some operating systems without which there would not have been the same virus scams, particularly not the sort of spam-born virus which has taken off through various software bugs. Fixing the holes in the operating systems which led to that is really important.

Looking at the recent spate of phishing attacks, that really brings to the fore the importance of the browser acting as the users agent, or of the user understanding who they are really talking to online. And security there has got a lot to do with the user interface. When youre looking at the banks Web site and wondering if it really is the banks Web site, how does the browser let you know that? If you click on the little padlock a couple of times you might find out who the certificate is actually made out to, but thats not really working.

Were actually going to get some people together at the W3C to talk about making the browser really report carefully to the user whats going on, and making it much more clear who theyre really talking to. We have the technologies for having a secure channel, and we have the technologies for signing certificates. Core technology for security is there, we need to finish up by getting that into the user interface to inform the end user better.

Is that the greatest shortcoming of todays commercial browser technologies? Or is there another pain point that jumps out at you?

Theres a rather long document on the WC3 site about common user agent problems (laughs). Not having a letterhead licensing certificate is the biggest one, but weve talked about that.

Next Page: Whats new with browsers?


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