Archive for January, 2013

Canvas 2D and Real-Time Media Flow Protocol (RTMFP) Standards Contributions

In the last several weeks, Adobe has made two significant announcements about standards contributions. One announcement signaled the submission of a specification for Adobe’s Secure Real-Time Media Flow Protocol (RTMFP) to the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and the other was an announcement by the W3C of stable and feature-complete HTML5 and Canvas 2D specifications to which Adobe contributed an endorsement (as well as providing Rik Cabanier as a co-editor of the Canvas 2D spec).

The two announcements are joined by a common thread: In both cases, Adobe felt that the market and our customers would benefit from the technology in the specifications. In the case of RTMFP, Adobe made a direct contribution of technology, which we believe has value for developers as the Internet continues to develop new applications and solutions. RTMFP may help solve some of the more vexing problems in real-time and peer-to-peer communications. It was submitted under a royalty-free grant – meaning that Adobe does not stand to profit from the contribution.

In the case of HTML5 and Canvas 2D, Adobe made a significant royalty-free grant of technology to the HTML5 specification as well as associated specifications that comprised “big HTML5” (which includes all the elements associated with HTML5 , from JavaScript to CSS). Along with that, Adobe (in conjunction with Microsoft and Google) is a major contributor to the W3C editor’s fund, which provides the means necessary to hire full time W3C editors for the HTML5.1 specification. We’re not sure how the next revision of HTML5 will shake out, but we’re reasonably certain that the careful and planned releases of stable and testable technology will help the market (including our customers) achieve fuller benefits from the World Wide Web.

In both cases, Adobe is betting on the future. The technologies being offered are either proven and existing technologies (Adobe uses RTMFP in Flash and other products), and Canvas 2D is increasingly being deployed and being embraced by the market. What is different is that businesses and developers now have an available and stable specification for implementation and planning. We don’t know where the market will go – but we do know that providing a firm foundation for continued expansion makes it much easier to build for the future.

We’re also willing to bet that the increased transparency offered by standards will help make the Internet and the Web more useful and increase the numbers of users and developers. And that they, in turn, will see more and more opportunities for further development and use. And this grows the market and increases the utility of the Web for everyone.

Carl Cargill
Principal Scientist

Testing: The Third Pillar of Standards

Recently, a series of “Test the Web Forward” events have been scheduled to promote getting the community involved in building test cases for important Web standards. A few months ago, I participated in “Test the Web Forward/Paris” in Paris.  The next “Test the Web Forward/Sydney” event is scheduled for February 8th and 9th in Sydney, Australia. These events, held in various cities around the world, are open to everyone who is passionate about Web standards, and bring together developers and standards experts.

Why is testing important? When we think about “standards,” we usually think about the two initial components: (1) specifications — written descriptions about how the standards work, and (2) implementations — software that implements the specification. A suite of test cases becomes an essential link between specifications and implementations.

When it comes to standards and standardization, what people care about is compatibility — the ability to use components from multiple sources with the expectation that those components will work together. This connection is there for all kinds of software standards, whether Application Program Interfaces (APIs), rules for communicating over the network (protocols), computer languages, or smaller component pieces (protocol elements) used by any of those.

On the Web, the APIs are frequently JavaScript, the protocol is often HTTP, and the languages include HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. URLs, host names and encoding labels and MIME types are protocol elements.

The “Create the Web” tour demonstrated the relationship between specification and implementation. “Test the Web Forward” brings in test cases to ensure that the promise of compatibility isn’t empty. Building the global information infrastructure requires a focus not only on new developments, but on compatibility, reliability, performance, and security. The challenge of testing is that the technology is complex, the specifications are new, and the testing needed is extensive.

I encourage everyone who is passionate about the Web and Web standards to attend the “Test the Web Forward” event in Sydney or other related events. Get involved and help make the Web a more interoperable place.

Larry Masinter
Principal Scientist