W3C Report Updates Web Applications on Mobile Standards

3 minute read
Anthony Myers avatar

W3C Report Updates Web Applications on Mobile Standards
Developing Web applications for a dizzying array of mobile device types is a problem the World Wide Web Consortium has been standardizing for years, and the group has published the tenth version of its standards for mobile Web apps on mobile.

HTML 5.1 + API Updates

This version of the updated standards is the first issued since February, and changes include updates to HTML 5, and First Public Working Drafts on several types of APIs. Working drafts are early milestones of a Working Group progress, and there are a total of six published in this update. This fact alone is proof of how quickly mobile technology changes, and how far away we are on so many standards.

Besides the introduction of the Public Working Drafts, other standards have moved further along in the standardization process. The last step before a final review by W3C members is a Proposed Recommendation, and the Standards for Web Applications on Mobile: current state and roadmap report has two of them.

One is for touch events, a critical standard due to the enormous popularity of touch screen devices, and the other is for Web storage. The Web storage standard proposes using either a sessionstorage or localstorage attribute instead of browser cookies for certain use cases.  

Additionally, three other standards have moved up to the stage just below the Proposed Recommendations, and these are called the Candidate Recommendations. These proposals are ready for testing, and once feedback is generated they can move on or be sent back to the previous stage for reworking. Standards in the Candidate Recommendations in this report include HTML Media Capture, Pointer Events and Resource Timing. 

Editors Drafts (New Proposals)

When a new idea pops up for a proposed standard, it is submitted as an Editors Draft, and this means there is no standing in terms of standardization yet. The drafts are submitted by specification editors, and then they move along the W3C Recommendation track (outlined above).

Learning Opportunities

In this latest report, two specifications have been entered as Editors Drafts, one for the NFC API and one for Level 4 Media Queries, a CSS Media Query to detect the type of pointing device. As Editors Drafts, these specifications will be modified, changed, rejected or made obsolete, so they have a long way to go to become standards. 

Taken all together, these updates show how far behind we are on standardizing even the most basic levels of Web app development for mobile devices. We don't even have standards yet for touch or Web storage, two of the most widely used technologies in mobile apps. While these two specifications are close to a final review, they are not yet W3C standards, and that means organizations are likely even further behind on implementing them.

As it is, we might have to wait another few months before they are up for final review, and then another few months after that to be adopted. Only then will we see leading organizations begin adopting them in full.

Image credit: violetkaipa / Shutterstock

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