W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-html@w3.org > September 2007

Latest proposal for offline web app API

From: Ian Hickson <ian@hixie.ch>
Date: Fri, 21 Sep 2007 10:36:07 +0000 (UTC)
To: whatwg@whatwg.org
Cc: public-html@w3.org
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.62.0709211018260.21662@hixie.dreamhostps.com>


Based on discussions in response to previous proposals in this and other 
forums, I have written a new proposal for offline web app APIs. The idea 
here is to allow existing applications to be retrofitted with a script 
layer that enables the applications to work offline, while supporting 
multiple instances running different versions, being safe against buggy 
author-provided client and server code, allowing for both replacement and 
transparent updates, not having any increase in the page load time in any 
case, and being reasonably easy to develop for.

Note: Some people in public-html@w3.org suggested that this would be an 
area that we should not be working on. However, two separate browser 
vendors as well as a browser extension developer group have independently 
contacted me requesting support for this _in person_, as well as by e-mail 
and over IRC, and in two of those three cases have actively been writing 
experimental and shipping code to add support for such a feature. This is 
amongst the highest level of demand I've ever seen for a feature in this 
spec (the last feature with this level of demand was probably <canvas>). I 
think it is imperative that we work to obtain a consensus on a single 
specification for this to enable interoperability on this quite important 
feature, otherwise we'll see quick fragmentation in this space. I believe 
HTML is the right place to define this due to the tight integration of any 
solution here with the loading and browsing context aspects of the current 
HTML5 spec, as should be obvious from the proposal below.

Also, this proposal depends on changes to the database API to support 
implicit transactions and named and versioned databases per domain, as 
well as being a motivator for introducing a threading-like worker model 
(similar to Gears' WorkerPool) that can be "joined" from multiple browsing 
contexts that share an origin. Both of these are likely to be forthcoming 
changes to HTML5 based on feedback received to date, so it seems safe to 
assume these changes will be present while designing this offline Web apps 
feature. These features are assumed to be the solution for dealing with 
updating of database schemas in the presence of multiple running 
instances.

Anyway, here's the proposal (v0.3):


An application cache has:

 * A manifest URI by which the cache is identified.

 * A set of one or more resources with URIs and full HTTP headers and
   bodies (the cache).

 * A set of zero or more strings representing URI prefixes, each
   mapped to a URI found in the cache (the fallback pages and their
   opportunistic caching patterns).

 * A set of zero or more URIs that are not in the cache (the
   online-whitelist set).


Browsing contexts are associated with application caches. A browsing
context with a parent browsing context is always associated with the
same cache as its parent browsing context.

When a top-level browsing context is navigated, the browsing context
must be associated with an application cache, as follows:

 * If the resource in question is being fetched via GET and is in one
   of the application caches:

      The user agent must pick an application cache from the shortlist
      of those caches that contain the specified URI, and associate
      the browsing context with it.

      The resource kept in that cache must then be examined. If it is
      an HTML resource and, when parsed with an HTML parser with
      scripting disabled, it has an "application" attribute, or, if it
      is an XML resource and, when parsed with an XML parser with
      scripting disabled, it has an "application" attribute, and that
      attribute doesn't match the URI of the cache selected, then
      unassociate the browsing context with that cache, and continue
      as if no cache could be found.

 * If you're offline, and any of the caches have fallback pages
   associated with a pattern that matches the URI of the resource
   being fetched, then:

      The user agent must pick an application cache from the shortlist
      of those caches that contain patterns that match the specified
      URI, and associate the browsing context with it.

      The UA must then use that page, but pretend that it came from
      the original URI. The page can work out which URI it is
      impersonating using the document.location API.

 * Otherwise:

    * If you're online, do the appropriate thing.

    * If you're offline, inform the user of the problem.

Then, the document must be loaded. If, during load, an application=""
attribute is found, then, if a cache with that manifest URI already
exists, then, add the resource URI to that cache, and associate the
browsing context with that cache. If no cache exists for that manifest
URI, then create a cache for that manifest URI, and add the resource
URI to that cache. (XXX How do we handle <?xml-stylesheet?> PIs? XXX)


The process for picking an application cache is as follows:

  * The user agent must pick the application cache, of those that are
    shortlisted, that the user most likely wants to see the resource
    from, taking into account the following:

     - which application cache was most recently updated

     - which application cache was being used to display the resource
       from which the user decided to look at the new resource

     - which application cache the user prefers

    (Obviously if only one cache is shortlisted the choice is
    trivial.)


When a subresource load is initiated by a browsing context that has an
associated application cache, the user agent must proceed as follows:

 - If the resource is being fetched via GET, and the cache's manifest
   and the resources it points to has been fully downloaded, and the
   cache does not contain a mention of the specified resource (not
   even in the online whitelist), then fail the load.

 - Otherwise, if the resource is being fetched via GET and the cache
   contains that resource, then return the cached resource.

 - Otherwise, if you are online: Hit the network to fetch the
   resource. Do not store the resource in the cache.

 - Otherwise, fail the load.


If a browsing context is associated with a cache, then run the update
process asynchronously as soon as the load of the resource starts.

The update process is as follows:
 - If the cache already existed before loading the resource, then:
    - set the offline state of every top-level browsing context that
      is using this cache to 'checking'.
    - fire a checkingupdate event at every top-level browsing context
      using this cache.
    - if not canceled, display UI saying that a check is in progress.
 - The given manifest must be fetched.
 - If this results in a 4xx or 5xx error, or a DNS error, or returns
   something of the a MIME type other than text/cache-manifest, or
   the manifest fails to get parsed, then:
    - if the cache was just created, then unassociate the browsing
      context with the cache, and just ignore the offline stuff.
    - if the cache already existed, then set the offline state of
      every top-level browsing context that is using this cache to
      'idle' and fire an 'updateerror' event to them all.
    - if not canceled, mention error to user somehow.
    - abort these steps
 - If the download was successful but the manifest hasn't changed
   since the last time it was fetched for this cache, then:
    - set the offline state of every top-level browsing context that
      is using this cache to 'idle'.
    - fire a noupdate event at every top-level browsing context using
      this cache.
    - remove any ui indicating that an update is in progress.
    - abort these steps
 - Download the data from the manifest.
    - set the offline state of every top-level browsing context that
      is using this cache to 'updating'.
    - fire an updating event at every top-level browsing context using
      this cache.
    - if not canceled, show ui that update is in progress, and keep
      updating this ui when progress events would have fired (below).
    - if the cache was not just created: create a new cache.
    - for each file listed in the manifest as needing to be cached,
      fetch the file into the new cache, using the old cache as a
      cache if a new cache wasn't just created, honouring expiration,
      ETag, last-modified, etc. (Send progress events during this.)
    - if a new cache wasn't just created, also do this for each file
      listed in the old cache that matches the opportunistic caching
      pattern in the new manifest. (Send progress events during this.)
    - if a new cache wasn't just created, also do this for each file
      listed in the old cache that was added to the cache using the
      addition API. (Send progress events during this.)
    - for each file listed in the manifest as being a fallback page,
      download the fallback page in the same way as above, and store
      the prefix URI in the cache. (Send progress events during this.)
    - for each online-whitelisted URI in the manifest, store the URI
      in the cache for future reference.
    - if anything results in a 4xx, 5xx, or DNS error, then:
      - if the cache was just created, then unassociate the browsing
        context with the cache, and just ignore the offline stuff.
      - if the cache already existed, then set the offline state of
        every top-level browsing context that is using this cache to
        'idle' and fire an 'updateerror' event to them all.
      - if not canceled, maybe tell user somehow.
      - abort these steps
 - Update the instances of the app.
    - set the offline state of every top-level browsing context that
      is using this cache to 'update ready'.
    - fire an updateready event at every top-level browsing context
      using this cache.
    - if not canceled, tell user update is ready (the page is expected
      to either call location.reload(), or the API to swap the new
      cache in, but both could be delayed, e.g. to wait for the user
      to finish the current task).

The above algorithm mentions that progress events have to be sent --
this means that an 'updateprogress' progress event must be sent at
every top-level browsing context using the cache while the download is
progressing.

Any file can be listed in the manifest, but the fallback patterns must
match same-origin restrictions.


API:

Provide methods and/or properties for the following:

 * Add a resource to the cache. The resource persists (it's a
   permanent addition to the manifest.)

 * Remove a resource from the cache that was added using the
   aforementioned API.

 * Invoke the update() algorithm.

 * Check the current status of the updating: 'idle', 'checking',
   'updating', 'update ready'.

 * Swap in the newest cache without a reload.


(When I write up the feature in the HTML5 spec I will reply in more detail 
to the actual feedback received on the WHATWG list and posted on the 
HTMLWG wiki, so if I haven't covered something here that was sent to one 
of those locations, I will still address it later, fear not.)

-- 
Ian Hickson               U+1047E                )\._.,--....,'``.    fL
http://ln.hixie.ch/       U+263A                /,   _.. \   _\  ;`._ ,.
Things that are impossible just take longer.   `._.-(,_..'--(,_..'`-.;.'
Received on Friday, 21 September 2007 10:36:16 UTC

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