W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-closingthegap@w3.org > February 2013

Re: “Closing the gap with native” headlight project

From: Jo Rabin <jo@linguafranca.org>
Date: Thu, 14 Feb 2013 10:42:13 +0000
To: public-closingthegap@w3.org
Message-Id: <D8104687-EFD5-43FF-A70C-359ABA36BFE1@linguafranca.org>
Hey Dom

Hello everybody, in response to Dom's request for us to step forward from the shadows and introduce ourselves, explain our interest and so on … 

… well, I'm Jo, of relevance to this list I'm currently Chair of the Core Mobile Web Platform Community Group (CoreMob CG) [1]. Other stuff I do summarised on LinkedIn [2]

What's my interest? 

Apps have entered the popular consciousness on mobile and are seen as the natural way of delivering products and services in a way that is somewhat baffling given the apparently opposite trend on desktop. I do, occasionally, download desktop "apps" but usually my needs are accommodated by Web sites. Companies that are perfectly happy with a Web presence on the desktop seem intent on not having a Web presence on mobile, because "they have gotta have an app".

One of the things I do is co-organise Mobile Monday London. We run an annual debate on HTML5 vs Native. It gets to be a bit challenging to find a new angle on this, year on year, but last year I decided to promote the event by making an unfavourable comparison between Native vs. HTML and Fine Dining vs Fast Food [3]. Having set the scene in this way, it's perhaps unsurprising that the result of the debate was in favour of apps [4].

So to the mindshare point, there is work to be done. But being a literal-minded engineer I'd like promotion to be backed by facts. And in the opinion of the Coremob CG the facts fall short. In our recently published "Coremob 2012" [5] we show that never mind deficiencies of implementation, we lack relevant standardisation to support a simple range of mobile use cases. So it would appear, at present, not to be possible to contemplate development, using Web technology, of some of the simple use cases we present. It should be noted that the use cases are suggested by a survey of actual native apps.

This is a parlous situation, and is made worse, in my view, when one considers that the use cases suggested are not particularly mobile in their motivation. Yes, we look at location and use of the camera, but no, we don't look at what in my view are more strongly mobile redolent use cases, such as use in a retail environment, which would presuppose bar code scanning, payment mechanisms and other quite mainstream technology requirements. These things are essential for the mobile Web to be commercially interesting.

From a Coremob perspective, we're currently at the point where we've delivered what amounts to a problem statement. Coremob now needs to decide what it is to do next. This question is enriched by noting that Testing (previously a significant part of the CG's charter) is now to become a mainstream and centralised area of focus within W3C, much to be welcomed. As chair, I would like to think that the CG in some continuing form serves both to inform the deliberations of this project and to take some outcomes from it to progress further.

I've tried, and failed, to keep this short. So I won't go on to explore, as I would like to, what we mean by mobile, anyway, and how what we are trying to achieve, in my view, is a cross-platform or perhaps a Contextually Responsive Web. I will also not mention, for now, that W3C processes being centred around "what members feel they want to do" is not ideally suited to progressing a coordinated agenda which of necessity spans a number of different fields of activity and working groups.

Irrespective of concerns of that kind, perhaps a rallying cry might be: "The Web is /for/ mobile, stupid!" I hope that this headlight project might progress an agenda of that kind.


[1] http://www.w3.org/community/coremob/
[2] http://uk.linkedin.com/in/jorabin/
[3] http://www.mobilemonday.org.uk/2012/09/html5-vs-native-24-september.html
[4] http://www.mobilemonday.org.uk/2012/09/html5-vs-native-fast-food-vs-fine-dining.html
[5] http://coremob.github.com/coremob-2012/FR-coremob-20130131.html

On 12 Feb 2013, at 09:48, Dominique Hazael-Massieux <dom@w3.org> wrote:

Sent from my iPad
> Hi all,
> Thanks again for showing interest in the “Closing the gap with Native”
> headlight project (see background on headlight projects [1]).
> The premise of this project is that in the world of mobile devices,
> native applications (based e.g. on iOS or Android SDKs) are gaining
> greater mindshare among users and developers compared to Web apps; we
> want to look at what needs to happen to ensure the Web remains a strong
> platform on these devices.
> One of the specific goals of this project will be to deliver at the
> latest by July a list of prioritized tasks that W3C should fund, for
> approval by the W3C management. 
> One of my personal goals will be to look at where W3C has a specific
> role to play and a greater chance to succeed in influencing the world,
> but of course that shouldn't prevent us as a group to look at what other
> (non-w3c) initiatives would be needed to achieve our more general goal.
> Before we're able to make such a list of prioritized tasks, I think we
> need to have a clear picture of where we think we're getting behind
> native apps, what we're already doing to catch up, which space the Web
> has a natural advantage to native apps. We'll also need to consider what
> trade-offs are required to catch up, and whether these trade-offs are
> worth it.
> I think we also need to agree on some common terminology to avoid
> hitting classical ambiguities with terms such as "Web apps" or "hybrid
> apps".
> I've started doing some work in that direction in the W3C wiki:
> http://www.w3.org/wiki/Closing_the_gap_with_native on which I welcome
> feedback.
> But as a first step, I would certainly appreciate if the various people
> on this list could introduce themselves, explain their interests on the
> project, and maybe give a rough idea of what they think the problem is,
> and where they think most of needs are.
> Dom
> 1. http://www.w3.org/wiki/Headlights2013
Received on Thursday, 14 February 2013 10:42:43 UTC

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