HTML5 live: Rocking the boat – and causing a ripple

Today was the HTML5 live conference in London, England. In this one day conference around 150 attendees learned the why of HTML5, and how to implement it in the current work environment.

As Mozilla’s representative I was asked to give a talk on how we are faring as a movement when it comes to HTML5. In the talk Rocking the boat – and causing a ripple I discussed the necessity to take HTML5 away from something to build cool demos in to be used in day to day products so we can find and report bugs. I also covered a few of the issues that are cropping up like “best viewed with browser X” products and trying to impress users by listing the technologies used rather than just using them to improve the overall experience. In the end we also list some of the new technologies and products Mozilla is working on to make the web a real application platform that has the same access that native applications have.

The slides are embedded below and use a modified DZSlides as the system. Focus on them and use the cursor keys to navigate. Display bullet points by pressing space and show and hide the notes by pressing N. Alternatively you can also see the slides a simple web page.

The audio recording of the talk is available at

About Chris Heilmann

Evangelist for HTML5 and open web. Let's fix this!

More articles by Chris Heilmann…


  1. pd

    As an everyday web developer who continually has to punch through the shortcomings of the web, it’s insulting to me that people such as yourself carry on the hype that the web is – or will soon be – as powerful as desktop apps. When the fundamental UI building blocks of most modern applications are not trivial to implement, such as tabs, you must be kidding yourself to think the web is approaching the simplicity of where Visual Basic was 15 years ago!

    Forms widgets are still terrible. In fact where Mozilla is concerned it’s laughable that the very UI platform it’s built on – XUL – hasn’t had some of the simplest form controls until recently – and only then when the one single person bothered to implement therm – Neil Deakin!

    HTML5 has more goodies for game developers (WebGL), Flash types (SVG, canvas etc) and graphic designers (Web fonts, CSS candy) than it has for anybody who simply wants to rapidly develop a rock-solid, no-frills, secure web application.

    Where’s the <calendar> tag? Where <tab> tags? Where in hell is the state of in-browser rich text editors these days? Why don’t browsers support a simple text editing subset of functions? Why don’t text input fields strip those evil Microsoft Word special characters? Why doesn’t the browser save a user’s content in between sessions by default? These are fundamental to so many web applications yet developers have to keep hacking around YAJSWidget by anonymous person X who has decided to stop supporting it years ago but a vendor Y is locked in since version A(ncient).

    Oh and here’s a huge one. Why can’t browser developers put their mind to preventing us having to use these stupid catchya widgets!??? How hard is it to assign each browser instance and page load a unique anonymous 32 bit string that server-side software can read without the user being able to edit it? One comment per string per X minutes. Easy! Allows for multiple users to comment yet limits spam comments to 12 an hour max.

    The most simplistic thing that browser developers could do for your every day web developer is to incorporate JavaScript libraries into the browsers. Why can’t I call functions from jQuery natively in any browser without forcing the user to download the library every time? Why do jQuery UI developers have to spend endless hours building merely a handful of widgets? It’s a disgrace!

    Stop hyping high-level “HTML5” this that and everywhere. Focus on real everyday needs!

    October 20th, 2011 at 04:12

    1. Robert Nyman


      Thanks for an extensive comment.

      There are many things to touch on here, but let’s start with why we talk about the web and its possibilities. Mozilla is about empowering people in the world, and have the Internet based on open technologies and standards, without being owned or controlled by just a single company. HTML and related technologies are the only ones that offer us that, and we believe that is the way forward.

      If the web will be like desktop apps? I don’t know. In some aspects it already is, it some it definitely isn’t. Then we have the enormous spectrum of mobile devices, with very varying user experiences.

      With forms, and especially HTML5 Forms features, Mozilla has sort of taken a back seat with implementations, since a) The specifications have still left some things to be desired, and b) It has been very unclear how these will be stylable.

      When it comes to a richer user experience in the form of WebGL, SVG, canvas etc, I believe all those are necessary to meet a strong need out there. At the same time, I completely agree that we need more focus on more everyday things that that have a broader usage, like proper ways to do layouts, tabs and so on. And I hope that will happen too, I don’t think one thing necessarily has to exclude one another.

      I don’t necessarily think web browsers should start implementing JavaScript libraries, since it would be a maintenance and consistency nightmare. I rather believe the DOM and various APIs have to dramatically increase. JavaScript libraries have always mainly been meant as an interim solution, till native support and standards have gotten better.

      And trust me, I’ve been working as a web developer a long time and I do feel your pain. Thank you for sharing, and I sincerely hope the future will, over time, help the web to constantly evolve into something better.

      October 21st, 2011 at 01:13

Comments are closed for this article.