On the one year anniversary of the HTML WG (March 7, 2008), IE8 beta 1 has been released. Firefox 3 beta 4 has been published on March 10, 2008 and the beta 5 will have a code freeze on March 18. WebKit of Apple is being built almost every days. Opera 9.26 Final has been announced on February 20, 2008. What all these products have in common?
Their implementers are part of the HTML WG and they started to implement pieces of HTML 5 in the alpha or beta version of their products. It is important because it helps to improve the specification, to discover what are the difficulties when implementing, to detect early the discrepancies and try to settle on a common ground.
Anne van Kesteren (Opera) has recently published IE8: The Bad and has described a few issues that he identified in IE8 beta 1. One of the topic was ARIA, which is mechanism for improving accessibility of Web applications, specifically the ones relying on dynamic content. The discussion between developpers has popped up first on W3C Members only mailing list (w3c-wai-pf), then a message from Simon Pieters (Opera) appeared on the public www-archive.
Simon Pieters (Opera) said:
Please ask if there’s something that is unclear from those points.
Chris Wilson (Microsoft) replied:
Actually, Anne’s post was not very clear about the ARIA point as well as others.
Thanks, this is much more helpful. Offhand I don’t know what caused this, a developer is looking into it.
Anne van Kesteren (Opera) engaged:
In IE8 you can do
element.ariaDisabled = true
This is not possible in any other browser. In other browsers you are required to do
To which Chris Wilson (Microsoft) replied:
Yup, that’s clear now. (To be more clear – the latter works in IE as well.)
I’m giving the details of this thread because when developing Web standards nothing is really perfect. People try, experiment, readjust their implementations depending on the feedback they receive. It also shows that it is a lot easier to fix things when people help you understand the issues.
Product developers sometimes try to extend the features which are given in a specification. For example, it seems that Mozilla already extended canvas API. At the origin, Canvas API was a creation of Apple. Now it is specified in HTML 5 WD (2008-01-22). XMLHttpRequest was created by Microsoft and it is also now described in a W3C Working Draft.
It is encouraging to see W3C as forum where people can discuss, innovate and share issues.