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Archive for the ‘Weekly Review’ Category

WHATWG Weekly: Stream API and better autocomplete

Thursday, December 15th, 2011

James Hawkins proposed the intent element in a way that brings back memories of HTML4. Happy to be reminded we are over SGML now. This is the WHATWG Weekly.

Better autocomplete

Overnight a complete proposal for better autocomplete appeared on the WHATWG Wiki, apparently already experimentally implemented in Chrome (prefixed). It proposes a new autocompletetype attribute that takes values such as birthday and cc-number. The advantage over ECML is that changes only need to happen on the frontend. The backend can stay the same.

File API

Adrian Bateman proposed to remove the readAsBinaryString() method from the File API standard. Everyone else seems to be on board so it will likely go away soon. Thanks to ArrayBuffer the method became useless.

He also proposed a new argument for createObjectURL() to indicate the resource will only be used once and can then be garbage collected.

Stream API

Sort of analogous to Blob objects a new Stream object has been proposed by Microsoft and it comes with a bunch of friends too so you can interact with it. Combined with XMLHttpRequest this will allow streaming data to the server or downloading large amounts of data and processing it as it comes in.

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WHATWG Weekly: Encoding woes and WebVTT

Monday, December 5th, 2011

If you want to contribute to the WHATWG Blog or Wiki, join IRC (#whatwg on Freenode). We had to shut down user registration unfortunately due to excessive spam. Welcome to another WHATWG Weekly. If it were themed, this would be about Sinterklaas.

Encoding problem

In response to Faruk Ate?' plea for defaulting to UTF-8, David Baron explained the platform encoding problem. The problem is that currently the default encoding varies per user (depending on locale primarily) and sites rely on locale-specific default encodings. Such sites visited by a user using a Dutch computer and a user using a Chinese computer, will render differently. In particular, their byte streams will be decoded using a different encoding. The implication is that the web is less global than it should be. How exactly we are to overcome the platform encoding problem, without everyone explicitly opting in to an encoding using <meta charset=utf-8> (please do so if you are a web developer), is still unclear. Ideas welcome!


Revision 6837 made it possible for WebVTT to be published as a standalone Living Standard. It will primarily be developed by the Web Media Text Tracks Community Group on the mailing list. WebVTT is the platform's captioning and subtitle format (for HTML video) and its development can be tracked on Twitter via @webvtt.

Video conferencing

The same revision that let WebVTT be published as standalone document, removed everything related to peer-to-peer connections and video conferencing. The W3C Web Real-Time Communications Working Group forked our work in WebRTC 1.0: Real-time Communication Between Browsers and we (the WHATWG) are okay with them working on it instead.


My colleague Karl has been blogging again on the W3C Blog, read his summaries from the weeks of November 14 and November 21.

Yours truly added native JSON support to XMLHttpRequest. Just set responseType to "json" and response will give you a JSON-decoded object once fetching is done.

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WHATWG Weekly: Subscribe to the specification & XMLHttpRequest merger

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

Next to @WHATWG, we now have +WHATWG. Hopefully ?WHATWG is next. Not to dispair, WHATWG Weekly will remain right here, without funny characters preceding it.

HTML is big, so follow what interests you!

Ian Hickson announced a new system on the mailing list that allows people to subscribe to specific sub-topics in the HTML specification, such as <canvas> or the HTML Syntax and Parsing sections. You can do so right from the specification itself. If you are interested in topics that are not yet a sub-topic, please let us know.


XMLHttpRequest is now developed as a single specification again, to reduce confusion, and make it easier for everyone to look at the same copy. Some subtle changes have been made as well, such as allowing responseType to be set before invoking open(), and restrictions on synchronous usage outside a worker context are planned. Synchronous in the main thread is bad, and you will not find any new XMLHttpRequest goodness there real soon now.


Because not everyone writes sites in a way that prevents future specifications from breaking them, Cameron McCormack has thought up a proposal that should help to make API design less restrictive. Karl Dubost pointed out that using GET when you mean POST is a bad idea.

Ryosuke Niwa is still working on the UndoManager and DOM Transaction specification and posted about a re-introduced AutomaticDOMTransaction interface. He also announced an updated draft and summarized the changes thus far.

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WHATWG Weekly: <time> police!

Monday, November 21st, 2011

You can now put a fullscreen in your fullscreen. Brought to you by Fullscreen. This is the WHATWG Weekly, not quite weekly, but you are still welcome.

<time> police

Revision 6827 introduced the new time element. The one that also allows for years, yearless dates, durations, and so on. It is based on extensive research by Tantek Çelik. That same Tantek is now battling the <time> police HTML WG co-chairs to get everything synchronized again. I am not privy of what is going on, as it happens behind closed doors.

find() and findAll()

Half a decade later we finally might get the short names for querySelector() that we actually wanted. Or not, it remains to be seen how compatible they are. In any event, Jonas Sicking started a thread on findAll()'s return value. An ECMAScript Array with some extra features.

WHATWG email

Ojan Vafai proposed a tabindexscope attribute for better control of tabbing behavior in a widget that is part of larger application. A little before James Graham suggested constructors for HTML elements. new HTMLButtonElement(), you name it. Michael A. Puls II briefly explains the difference between plugins and native support when it comes to attributes. Gavin Kistner found an oversight in data URL origin determination due to added support for CORS.

Kinuko Yasuda started a long thread on how drag-and-drop of folders is to be supported in the platform. Jonas Sicking suggested nothing much new is needed for that, though Glenn Maynard foresees problems reusing the current API. And on it goes.

Rafael Weinstein suggested a template element that would have special parsing behavior. Basically making the nested elements not do anything (e.g. not fetch images, execute scripts).

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WHATWG Weekly: TPAC 2011

Thursday, November 10th, 2011

A long week
Filled with people and meetings

Last week the W3C held its yearly TPAC conference. See Unorganization for an impression of the event written by me. Karl wrote down some technical details. What follows is my brief technical takeaway.

<time> and again

The time element comes back and its new design will be heavily influenced by the research done on the Time element wiki page. In short, the API will be removed, and support for years, months, birthdays lacking a year, and durations will be added.

The remainder of the discussions in the HTML WG were by and large non-technical (or rabbitholing about the longdesc attribute), leading yours truly to suggest that maybe we should call it a day and move on to the next thing.


Several meetings were had on components (formerly XBL) trying to get a sense of where we should be heading. Although not everyone could be present at every meeting, some progress was made. Components with a public API will likely be required to inherit from a single element type and components will always be bound in an asynchronous manner to ensure developers will not rely on them being synchronously bound.


The new mutations model for the web was hashed out among the people working on it and the other day I put the mutations IDL in DOM4 as a start for the new standard.

Living Standards

It was my impression that people operating at various levels of the W3C were more open for change. To improve standards development similarly to what we are trying to do within the WHATWG. It remains to be seen what comes out of it, but it encouraging to see that this is a topic of conversation, with Tim-Berners Lee and Jeff Jaffe (W3C CEO) actively participating.

W3C License

Despite that all the text of the W3C HTML5 is available under a license that permits forking (namely the WHATWG text), the W3C Members keep denying the W3C HTML WG’s desire for a license that allows forking. People were puzzled.

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