CAMBRIDGE, MA. -- December 11, 1995 -- The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) at MIT's Laboratory for Computer Science and INRIA has announced a major step in building a coherent World Wide Web, the universe of hyperlinked information available on the Internet. As part of a W3C convergence initiative, Consortium members IBM Corporation, Microsoft Corporation, Netscape Communications Corporation, Spyglass Inc. and Sun Microsystems Inc. have agreed to develop a common way of inserting active objects into the Web's hypertext documents. "Microsoft is pleased that W3C is driving these object standards and we are excited about our products embracing them," said John Ludwig, Vice President of Personal Systems.
The new technology allows Web documents to include not only text and images, but also to include "live" objects which move, dance, calculate, or interact with the user. "The possibilities are endless," said John Patrick,
Vice President of IBM Internet Solutions. "Your browser can learn to deal with new kinds of objects as you encounter them."
Recently IBM, Microsoft, Netscape, Spyglass and Sun had been experimenting with active objects, known also as embedded objects, or "applets", but were using different extensions to the HTML standard. Sun's "Hot Java" fired the world's imagination, showing active objects from animated penguins to simulated science experiments. Netscape has licensed Java technology and will be releasing it in future Netscape products. Microsoft's "Internet Explorer" includes animated graphics where heretofore only still images were possible; and objects such as spreadsheets and graphs from other applications are planned.
Until recently, however, there were no standards for inserting active objects. Therefore documents written for one browser would not work with another. The recent W3C announcement sets a course for global adoption of active objects, quelling fears of fragmentation of the Hypertext Markup Language standard. "This will open the door to an even more productive and exciting Web. Content providers will have a new dimension for their creativity," said Dale Dougherty of Songline Studios.
The HTML standard leaves the door open to multiple present or future object languages and object systems. "Web technology does not constrain, it enables," said the Consortium's Director, Tim Berners-Lee. Publishers will be able to make the same object available, for example, as an OLE object and as a Java applet; and an appropriate one can be chosen automatically as the document is loaded.
The W3C was created to develop common standards for the evolution of the World Wide Web. It is an industry consortium run by MITs Laboratory for Computer Science and INRIA. Services provided by the Consortium include: a repository of information about the World Wide Web for developers and users; a reference code implementation to embody and promote standards; and various prototype and sample applications to demonstrate use of new technology. To date, the Consortium comprises more than 90 organizations.
Now in its third decade, MITs Laboratory for Computer Science (LCS) is dedicated to the invention, development and understanding of information technologies expected to drive substantial technical and socio-economic change. The LCS has helped information technology grow from a mere curiosity to 10 percent of the industrial worlds economies by its pioneering efforts in interactive computing, computer networking, distributed systems and public key cryptography. LCS members and alumni have started some thirty companies and have pioneered the Nubus, the X-Window System, the RSA algorithm, the Ethernet and spreadsheets.
INRIA, the National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Control is a French public-sector scientific institute. INRIA is made up of five Research Units located at Rocquencourt (near Paris), Rennes, Sophia Antipolis, Nancy and Grenoble. The transfer of research results is one of INRIA's main assignments, in addition to its fundamental and applied research in information processing, control and scientific computation.
Java and Hot Java are trademarks of Sun Microsystems, Inc. Internet Explorer is a trademark of Microsoft Corporation.
See WD-insert for the current working draft of the INSERT specification.