Microsoft is debuting on Tuesday HTML5 Labs, a test and sandbox site for developers to experiment with early draft specifications of emerging HTML5-based technologies.
Managed by the Microsoft Interoperability Strategy Group, the HTML5 Labs site is where Microsoft will prototype early Web standard specifications from standards bodies such as World Wide Web Consortium, which is shepherding HTML5. With the HTML5 specification and associated technologies, developers gain standards-based mechanisms for adding multimedia capabilities to Web applications as well as functionality such as bidirectional communications.
“These prototypes will help us have informed discussions with developer communities and give implementation experience with the draft specifications that will generate feedback to improve the eventual standards,” said Jean Paoli, general manager for interoperability strategy at Microsoft, in a blog post. “It also lets us give the community some visibility on those specifications we consider interesting from a scenario point of view but which are still not at the stage where we can consider them ready for official product support.”
Initial prototypes available on the site include:
IndexedDB, which is a W3C draft Web specification for storing large amounts of structured data in the browser. It uses indexes that allow for high-performance searches on the data.
WebSockets, which is a technology designed to simplify complexity around bidirectional, full-duplex communications channel over a single TCP socket. It can be implemented in browsers and Web servers and can be used by any client or server application. The WebSockets API is currently being standardized by the W3C.
“So please experiment with these prototypes and tell us and other working group participants whether the APIs are usable. We are making them available to help improve the final specifications,” Paoli said.
On the HTML5 Labs site, Microsoft warns that the specifications are unstable and will change.
Microsoft plans to support HTML5 in its upcoming Internet Explorer 9 browser. Through HTML5 Labs, developers gain a stable foundation to build their experiences on IE9, according to Microsoft.
“With many HTML5 technologies still under active development, our approach is to give developers better choices and avoid false dichotomies around standards support. The IE9 browser has site-ready HTML5 support that developers and consumers can depend on,” said Dean Hachamovitch, Microsoft corporate vice president for Internet Explorer, in a blog post. “We will also offer developers HTML5 Labs for more experimental technologies still under development. By clearly separating prototype implementations from mainstream browser product ones, we can avoid many negative consequences.”
While Microsoft’s Silverlight rich Internet application technology is seen as a competitor to HTML5, Microsoft nonetheless has plans for both Silverlight and HTML5.