Browser wishlist initiative produces its summary report

Blogged by: Jon Ferraiolo on July 16, 2008 at 10:34 am

The Ajax community ranks vector graphics as top request

OpenAjax Alliance has produced a summary report of its browser wishlist initiative at:

By July 13, when the voting closed, this initiative has turned out to be a bigger success than expected. Given the amount of effort required to read and understand the vast web technology landscape, and the relatively limited time and resources available to the OpenAjax Alliance Runtime participants, we were hoping for 50 or so people to vote, which would be meaningful to establish a rough idea of what’s most important to the community.

Voting results are available at:

Here are some quick statistics:

Among all the feature requests, 2D Drawing/Vector Graphics is clearly the most desired feature by the community. It received most votes (110 people voted for it), and highest total score (842, over 10% higher than the second feature request). The second top feature request is enhanced security for cross-site scripts. The third and fourth were better APIs for scripting and styling and HTML DOM performance. Here are the top 10 features:

  • 2D Drawing/Vector Graphics
  • Better Security for Cross-site Scripts
  • Better APIs about positioning and styling
  • HTML DOM Operation Performance In General
  • Better Support for Rich Text Editing
  • The Two HTTP Connection Limit Issue
  • Better UI Layout Support
  • Native JSON Parsing
  • Persistent Connections Issue
  • Video and Audio

Here is what pops out from the voting:

  • Graphics – The top vote getter was 2D Drawing/Vector Graphics. Ajax developers today are achieving astoundingly rich graphics effects through clever techniques leveraging JavaScript, CSS, images, and whatever vector graphics features they can find (usually, SVG, VML and Canvas), but browser differences are a major pain point among Ajax developers. Mozilla, WebKit and Opera support both Canvas and SVG with good interoperability (although Mozilla does not yet support SVG animations). IE is the holdout. The call-to-action is for all browsers, particularly IE, to support both of the industry standards for 2D vector graphics, SVG (the DOM-based standard) and Canvas (the procedural-based standard).
  • Security – Web security is an important topic for leading Ajax developers. The second top vote getter was Better Security for Cross-Site Scripts (XSS), but other security requests also receiving high votes, such as Strong Cross-Site Request Forgery Protection (which it turns out was the 11th top voter-getter). The perception of the moderators is that it’s not just XSS, but that the community cares about all aspects of ensuring that the Web is secure, and in fact more secure than it is today. Recently, Mozilla has authored a proposal that might help make the Web more secure: http://people.mozilla.com/~bsterne/site-security-policy/. Note that Native JSON Parsing can be considered a security feature because without it Web developers are more inclined to use JavaScript eval() to process JSON data, which might allow for XSS attacks.
  • Better low-level CSS and DOM support for layout – Two of the top vote-getters were Better APIs for positioning and styling and Better UI Layout Support. These requests come from the widget developers within Ajax toolkit projects who design Ajax-based UI controls by taking advantage of what the browser gives them, such as DOM, CSS, images, and table layout. They often run into walls, and their jobs could be much easier (and performance much faster) if the browser included a small number of additional (relatively small) features, such as stretchable layout (e.g., flexbox in XUL) and the ability to determine the location and size of objects (and containers) within the page.
  • Performance – The top vote-getter in the performance area was HTML DOM Performance in General. In discussions over the past year with leading Ajax developers, the moderators believe that the Ajax community wants performance improvements in all aspects of the browser runtime, including DOM, JavaScript, and rendering, but DOM performance was singled out by the community because Ajax toolkit developers have found that DOM access is the top performance barrier today. The key high-level message is keep making the browsers faster, but even blazingly fast JavaScript isn’t going to help if making DOM calls is too slow.
  • Rich text editing – Various people in the Ajax community want to move desktop-like document editing into the browser. However, the contributors to this feature request did not outline a detailed strategy for how to accomplish this in future browser. The takeaway is that the Ajax community wants Better Support for Rich Text Editing , and hopefully one of the browser teams will push the envelope in this direction and send standards proposals so that the other browsers can also provide this functionality.
  • Comet (server push) – Two of the top vote-getters were The Two HTTP Connection Limit Issue and Persistent Connections Issue. The underlying requirement is that many Ajax applications, such as dashboards, require an efficient and robust mechanism for having the server send data to the client on an event-driven basis. Today, server push in Ajax is often accomplished using “Comet” techniques such as long-lived HTTP connections, but the Ajax community would prefer if server push was a native browser feature.
  • Video and Audio – Video and Audio also receiving strong support, coming in as the 10th-most requested feature.

The next step is to communicate with browser vendors. We have had calls with some of the browser vendors such as Microsoft IE team during Phase I. OpenAjax Alliance will try to get in touch (or continue) the dialog with browser vendors to convey what the community is looking for.ser vendors to convey what the community is looking for.

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