In 2012, W3C WAI started work on “IndieUI” – Independent User Interface – to make it easier for developers to create applications that respond to user input in a cross-platform way that does not depend on specific types of devices. Today the IndieUI Working Group has published a First Public Working Draft of IndieUI: Events 1.0. For an introduction, please see the IndieUI Overview.
IndieUI: Events focuses on common types of user interface interactions that are controlled in different ways across platforms. It provides an intermediate layer between device- and modality-specific user interaction events, and the basic user interface functionality used by web applications. IndieUI: Events focuses on granular user interface interactions such as scrolling the view, canceling an action, changing the value of a user input widget, selecting a range, placing focus on an object, etc. With IndieUI: Events, these user intentions can be inferred from hardware- and platform-specific user interactions through the keyboard, mouse, speech, or touch input. Host platforms can map these interactions to defined events, and then web developers won’t have to worry about the specifics of how users provide input, and can focus just on the user intent.
In addition to simplifying aspects of the user input model, IndieUI: Events is also important to broaden how users can interact with web applications. Some users use assistive technologies (AT), which include auxiliary hardware or software that work along with the users’ computer or smartphone to facilitate interaction. For instance, a person may use a screen reader to present web content in speech and support input without visual feedback from the device; a person who does not type can use a speech-controlled interface instead of a keyboard and mouse. There is a wide variety of AT available, making it nearly impossible for web applications to be designed to work with all of them – but with IndieUI: Events, apps can work seamlessly with AT without needing to know how the AT works.
Please take a look at IndieUI. This First Public Working Draft is one of the best times to review IndieUI: Events and influence its features. The Working Draft is developed enough to show the general approach, but is not yet feature complete. The IndieUI Working Group has documented a set of requirements, although they may not yet be comprehensive. The Working Group is now reviewing requirements and known technical issues in order to mature this technology. Your input on this Working Draft is important to this process. We welcome your comments on the current draft requirements, in addition to the First Public Working Draft of IndieUI: Events. To comment, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org (comment archive). We’d like comments by 22 February 2013 so the Working Group can process them in time to prepare the next Working Draft.
In addition to sending comments via email, I encourage you to consider joining the Working Group, particularly if you can contribute on implementation specifics, such as device manufacturers and browser vendors. This allows a deeper level of engagement on the specifics of this technology.
If you want to check out in-progress updates, you can check out the publicly visible editors’ draft of IndieUI: Events.