Microsoft Want to Seperate Canvas From HTML5

Microsoft’s Eliot Graf sent an email to the mailing list on Wednesday proposing the removal of the canvas element from the HTML5 specification, instead moving it to it’s own specification.

At Microsoft, we agree with [...] creating a separate Canvas 2D API specification. We are prepared to offer editorial resources to aid in the completion of this separate specification. We have looked over Doug’s initial document, made some editorial enhancements, and are prepared to follow through in taking feedback and maintaining the specification.

We believe that some sort of accessibility API functionality is needed in the canvas element. However, the exact nature and depth of that functionality presents a dilemma that may block progress on the HTML5 spec. We also think that the Canvas 2D API may be a desirable feature used in other technologies such as SVG.

Microsoft’s suggestion was met with much sceptism and negativity from the other members of the public mailing list including Google Employee and primary editor of the HTML5 specification Ian Hickson, who replied:

I’m really not sure at this point that it even makes sense to extract the API anymore. The API intergrates pretty tightly with the rest of HTML, for example it refers to HTMLVideoElements, the HTML5 “structured clone” feature is defined in terms of canvas interfaces, and so on. There would have to be a two-way reference, which would be a maintenance nightmare, and which would just delay the progress of both documents.

However, there are also a large number of people who agree that the canvas element is not ready for inclusion within the HTML5 specification. The biggest issue with including canvas stems around accessibility. Currently there is only a very basic fallback for users who cannot view the canvas element (such as visitors using screen readers). This fallback is meant to convey the same message or same functionality as the canvas element, but in reality becomes more of a way of the developer to tell the user their current setup does not support canvas. However, there is currently a W3C task force working on these accessibility issues to bring together a solution.

Microsoft’s Internet Explorer is currently the only mainstream browser not to support the canvas element, with developers forced to use third party JavaScript plugins such as ExCanvas to get their canvas demos running in Microsoft’s browser.

Whatever the decision, it seems clear from this discussion thread that Microsoft aren’t planning to implement the canvas element any time soon. Hopefully this will change before the release of Internet Explorer 9, but we may be reliant on third party plugins for some time yet.

The whole discussion can be found on the W3 public-html mailing list.


Posted on:
October 23rd, 2009
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