According to Mozilla engineer Vladimir Vukicevic, Internet Explorer isn’t adapting to the next generation of web standards fast enough, so he’s going to have to do it himself.
Vukicevic has been working to introduce HTML 5 graphic canvas elements to Firefox. As we mentioned in our preview of Firefox 3.1, canvas elements introduce the ability to render two dimensional, and soon three dimensional, graphics directly through web pages without a download. The graphics are part of the next-generation HTML 5 standard, and it’s something Opera and Safari have already implemented.
The problem is the leading browser on the internet, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, doesn’t support Canvas elements and have announced no plans to support it in the future. If you were a Mozilla developer behind a cool new feature and you knew people weren’t going to use it until the leading browser on the web implemented it, you might feel tempted to lend the other browser a hand.
Vukicevic did exactly that. His ActiveX component adds the ability to see Canvas elements in Internet Explorer exactly the same way Opera, Safari or Firefox 3.1 users will. According to Vukicevic’s blog post:
“Canvas is just one piece of the full modern web platform, but because it’s so self-contained, it lets us experiment with pushing the web platform forward even for browsers that have fallen behind (or that might not be interested in an open web).”
The code isn’t finished yet. There are still some graphic implementations needed to bring the feature up to standard. Even more daunting, there are installation issues with Vukicevic’s solution:
“Currently, the experience is pretty crappy… In theory, with the right signatures, the right security class implementations, some eye of newt, and a pinch of garlic, it’s possible to get things down to a one-time install which would make the component available everywhere.”
Still, this is great news for Internet Explorer fans. HTML 5 technology aims to bring multimedia elements, such as audio, video and graphics to your browser without depending on third-party media solutions. The standard, if implemented among all browsers, allows web developers the tools needed to ensure the same user experience no matter what browser you choose to use.
For the rest of us, it means a seamless and rich multimedia experiences in our favorite web pages — no more missing plug-ins or add-ons.
However, Internet Explorer hasn’t been very open to adapting to developing standards as Opera, Safari and Firefox has. In part, this is because it is pushing its own .NET based technology, including its Silverlight multimedia browser plug-in, to achieve the same goal. Pushing adoption of its technology instead of web standards such as HTML 5 (using the weight of Internet Explorer’s leading market share) means the company has more power to influence the future of emerging internet technology.
This is where Vukicevic’s add-on is so unique. In a way, it forces Internet Explorer to play along with the web standards community without its direct involvement. In turn, web developers will be more apt to use the technology. And if all browsers use the same standards, it means rich internet multimedia for all.