Here I want to outline a few specific features which will challenge the boundaries of the web as we know it. And then I’ll explain how the web community can meet those challenges.
Tip of the Iceberg
In 2009, I gave a talk at London Web Standards on eight features of HTML5 you won’t see, features such as offline storage, geolocation, and history API.
The web has traditionally been a visual medium. As Jen Simmons observes here, even when it’s not visual, we use the word “Screen Reader” to emphasise its visual foundations. While it’s moved from text to images to fancy graphics and multimedia, those things are still visual elements on the page. Yet all of the above are not about elements on the page. That’s where technology is headed. So is it even sensible to handle these things through the web?
On a technical level, what makes the web incredibly powerful is the DOM concept. DOM is sync’d to UI. Update the DOM and it changes the user-interface. Change the UI and the DOM updates. The programmer doesn’t have to facilitate this bidirectional sync; it just happens.
Of course, at a higher level, the web is about open standards. That’s really what sets it apart from iOS, Android, and .Net. There’s no single vendor in charge. Something like the Java Virtual Machine comes close, but the web stack stands out as a more balanced control system. If there are to be standards for things like vehicle APIs, the web is attractive as the best stab at a neutral ground with real developer buy-in.
For this reason, the web can successfully move beyond the visual medium without losing what makes it the web in the first place.