Better Mobile Browser Debugging

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Better Mobile Browser Debugging

For the second year in the row, Sencha is asking for better mobile browser debugging and profiling. Chrome's remote debugging feature can now run on RIM's BlackBerry PlayBook, and there is no reason others can't follow it, Mullany said in a blog post. Scriptable debugging/profiling would greatly assist mobile application QA, something that's currently a painful task in mobile Web app (and framework) development, he added.

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Background Services

Sencha's Mullany also wants more capabilities for managing multiple resources and handling background tasks. Google's Chrome again is leading on implementing these OS-y type services, Sencha said. Web notifications are in working draft, and Mullany is looking for broader implementation in 2012.

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Contacts API

Mullany said developers want contacts access without needing to use a shell API. There's a spec from Nokia and others, but too few implementations.

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Right-Sizing Images

Mullany said that while src helps developers deliver the right image size to any mobile device, it's a solution "for something that should be solved in standards." At one point in recent years, there apparently was a proposal to enable this at the HTTP layer. However, with today's cloud environments, where developers often don't get to tweak their Web servers and traditional HTTP is the only tool available, "this won't fly. It needs to be added to either HTML or CSS. We're hoping the CSS4 Images standard now in 'pre-draft' form will get some love and attention this year."

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Last year marked the end of WebSQL, Sencha's Mullany said, but IndexedDB is not ubiquitous yet—on the desktop, Safari has yet to ship it. Also, it's not on mobile. Until then, developers are forced to create their own shims on top of local storage and WebSQL to get cross-browser offline data storage. IndexedDB would be welcomed this year.

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WebGL Everywhere

For Mullany, finding that WebGL is ubiquitous would be a nice turn of events. He's hoping that in 2012, Microsoft's IE10 will support WebGL, and that it is everywhere in the mobile world as well. With Apple's iOS planning to support WebGL only within iAds—for now, anyway—it could be a while before it's broadly available.

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Web Intents: Standardization, Support

Web Intents is a great way to enable Web applications to hand off tasks to one another, without knowing beforehand who and what the offloading Web app is. Invented by Paul Kinlan, from Chrome, and inspired by Android's intents system, Web Intents allow Web applications to collaborate on tasks. Sencha's Mullany wants "a speedy standards track draft and good interoperable Firefox and WebKit implementations by the middle of the year."

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Better Offline Caching

HTML5 cache manifests work well for basic offline application support, but to be used, developers need to know ahead of time what their assets are, declare them in a file and link the file into their pages. In addition, mobile browsers especially have had idiosyncratic and at times buggy interpretations of cache manifests, so Mullany and Sencha are looking for a more dynamic, easier caching mechanism—preferably one that includes JavaScript APIs.

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HTML5 Audio Quality

According to Mullany: "While long-playing HTML5 audio works in most places, short-form audio, particularly for the features that games need, is lacking." Developers are looking for ways to synchronize audio with video or animations, multi-channel and mixing, and there are several early-stage drafts to create standards for richer media handling. He is hoping that by the end of the year, there will be solid desktop support, with some standardization in the second round of working drafts.

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HTML5 Media Implementations

Web browser support for media caption and other HTML5 media technologies remains elusive, despite there being some support for photo uploads in Android, Mullany said. Given this, mobile Web developers in particular must wrap their Web apps in a shell to get device API access. Camera access is the top reason HTML5 developers gave for deploying to native rather than Web. Given Apple's leadership in almost every other area of the mobile Web, "it remains a glaring omission for Mobile Safari," he said.

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