TPAC/2011/Web Content Interoperability

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Web Content Interoperability Challenges

  • Proposed and Led by: Bryan Sullivan

The Challenge

  • There is a somewhat accurate perception among developers, that developing for the Web (especially for mobile devices) is freakin' hard, compared to developing for native platforms.
  • Web content interoperability issues are often at the core of developer difficulties.
  • Web content interoperability will greatly affect the potential of HTML5-based app ecosystems which target a wide diversity of devices and service contexts.
  • Such interoperability issues are a key inhibitor of the Web applications market, even without the performance and high-end graphics limitations of current Web user agents compared to native applications.

W3C Responds!

  • W3C is taking steps to address Web browser/content interoperability challenges, through the Web Testing Activity, which will include a combination of tactical focus on test documentation, test production, and testing frameworks, and strategic focus on the overall value of W3C testing for Web application ecosystems.
  • In this manner, the immediate needs of W3C for alignment and further development of test methodology can be combined with progress toward creating a living compliance testing environment which benefits a wide diversity of needs across the Web application ecosystem, including W3C, Web user agent and platform vendors, developers and developer initiatives, service providers, and supporting services (e.g. test/certification providers).

The goals for this discussion are:

  • Frame some overall objectives for Web content interoperability
  • Introduce how this relates to the proposed W3C Testing Activity
  • Start a dialog on how to collect key interoperability issues, ensuring participation of that all those that are impacted:
    • Users
    • Developers and content providers
    • Web user agent and tooling vendors
    • Service providers

[Vidhya Gholkar] +1 I think we need to understand what "developers" find difficult and how much can really be addressed by testing. Some of it comes down to education, knowledge base and skills. Also when it comes to content: "being everything to everybody" is a big task (i am referring to the changing fashions, devices, OSs etc etc)!

[Bryan Sullivan] A draft intro and session discussion outline is available at Suggestions for inclusion in the discussion are welcome, especially any input on key content interoperability issues faced by developers.

Results of the Session

For the minutes captured on IRC, see

The panelists for this session included:

  • Kai-Dietrich Scheppe, Deutsche Telekom
  • Wilhelm Joys Andersen, Opera
  • Claudio Venezia, Telecom Italia
  • Soonho Le, SKT
  • Bryan Sullivan, AT&T

Comments Captured by the Panel

  • Interoperability is an issue not just for Web browsers. It affects all types of devices that implement Web technologies, including e.g. factory devices that use XML.
  • W3C should seek to create specs that are clean, small, and orthogonal.
  • Authoring tools are essential, to help developers address the complexities of the Web development environment.
  • The ability of authoring tools to support features needs to be considered when the features are specified.
Comments by Kai
  • there is an expectation of cross-browser identical design with single pixel accuracy. The idea that harmonious design within each browser outweighs this expectation is not really supported by product management.
  • Interoperability issues create high costs in tests, due to the necessity to check everything very detailed.
  • content providers cater to the lowest common denominator in terms of using Web technology in order to address as many users as possible and keep effort to a minimum
  • the set of supported browsers is close to the newest versions only, due to this approach of content development
  • features that might make life easier for consumers cannot be used as long as there isn't broad support in the browser community

Next Steps