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Mozilla man blasts Apple and Google for HTML5 abuse

'Only Microsoft gets web standards'

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Mozilla open source evangelist Chris Blizzard has unloaded on both Apple and Google for abusing the HTML5 moniker, confusing netizens everywhere, and undermining the slow march towards truly open web standards.

Blizzard is so peeved at Apple and Google that he even goes so far as to lavish praise on Microsoft for its belated embrace of open standards.

Like so many others among the browserati, Blizzard is fuming over Apple's new "HTML Showcase" site. The site purports to demonstrate Apple's love for web standards, but in the end, it does much the opposite.

"These web standards are open, reliable, highly secure, and efficient," the site says. "The demos below show how the latest version of Apple’s Safari web browser, new Macs, and new Apple mobile devices all support the capabilities of HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript." But then it gives the impression that Apple is the only browser maker backing such standards.

The site goes on to say that "not all browsers offer this support." Which is true. But today's Chrome, Firefox, and Opera do offer extensive support for the same standards, and Apple has barred these — and all other non-Apple browsers — from accessing the demos:

Error message from Apple's HTML5 promotion page

Apple pretends other browsers don't like HTML5

Echoing Opera's Haavard Moen, Blizzard rips Steve Jobs and cult for its double-dealing, accusing the company of giving the false impression that only Safari has embraced open standards. "That’s right," Blizzard writes, in describing the screenshot above. "If you’re not on Safari, then Fuck You. Aside from the incendiary language I’ve used to help you understand how it feels the real underlying message here is that if you don’t have access to Safari then you must not have access to HTML5. Wait, only Safari supports HTML5??

"Nope, lots of browsers do. A huge percentage of the world does have access to standards like HTML5." And he points to a site that details HTML5 support built into Firefox, Chrome, and Safari.

Blizzard accuses Apple of commandeering HTML5 to suit its own agenda. "Basically they are saying internally 'omg, no one thinks we support html5, we need to prove them otherwise! We’ll put up tests! Demos! The world will then know and we can go back to being perceived as actually leading the WebKit project which is also made of puppies and rainbows!'" he writes.

"So you end up with sites like this. Sites that entirely miss the point of the web, interoperability, standards and html5. The demos that they put up are just filled with stuff that Apple made up, aren’t part of HTML5 and are only now getting to the standards process."

Part of the problem, Blizzard says, is that so many others have already applied the HTML5 moniker to so much more than HTML5. Apple's simply following the trend, shoving things like CSS under the HTML5 umbrella. And here, Blizzard lays much of the blame on Google, who first took hold of the HTML5 name at its annual developer conference in the spring of last year.

"The big problem is that html5 has come to mean a lot of things, mostly thanks to Google. They’ve basically been riding that and flogging it and making it their own. (That and performance — simple, great marketing messaging. I appreciate it, even if the dishonesty of it makes my blood boil)," Blizzard says, referring to Google's constantly claiming that Chrome is the fastest thing on the planet.

Google, it seems, is the real villain of his piece. "It’s a shame that the main victim here turns out to be Apple, given that the king of these tactics is Google, but hey, Apple managed to come out with something that was so brash and misleading it deserves a good tear-down," Blizzard writes.

In an aside, he claims that at this year's Google I/O developer conference, Mountain View "managed to take Native Client and the Chrome Store and make it all sound like it was part of html5." And he has a point. This spring, at Google I/O, the company certainly nudged the open web forward in open sourcing its VP8 video codec under a royalty-free license. But it also dropped Native Client and the just announced Chrome App Store — two technologies tied to Google's Chrome browser — into its sweeping discussion of HTML5 as the future of the web.

With Native Client, Google is actually bypassing the standard web stack, encouraging developers to build native code applications that run in a plug-in currently offered only by Chrome. And the Chrome App Store takes web applications into Apple iPhone store territory. The day of Google's announcement, Mozilla's Jay Sullivan called for the net to embrace an Open Web App Store.

"Web developers are expressing interest in an app store model for the Web that would enable them to get paid for their efforts without having to abandon Web development in exchange for proprietary silos, each with their own programming language and SDK, variable and sometimes opaque review processes, and limited reach," Sullivan said in a blog post.

"Supporting the needs of Web developers in their efforts to develop websites and apps that aren’t bound to a specific browser and work across the Web is core to Mozilla’s public benefit mission."

But even when it comes to the open standards, Blizzard says, Apple and Google are missing the point. It's telling that of all the browser-makers out there, Blizzard reserves his praise for, um, Microsoft. "The most important aspect of HTML5 isn’t the new stuff like video and canvas (which Safari and Firefox have both been shipping for years). It’s actually the honest-to-god promise of interoperability," he writes.

"Even stodgy old Microsoft, who has been doing their best to hold back the web for nearly a decade, understands this and you’ll see it throughout their marketing for IE9. (Their marketing phrase is 'same markup' – watch for it and you’ll see it everywhere in their messaging). The idea that the same markup, even with mistakes, will be rendered exactly the same. HTML5 represents the chance for browsers to work together and find common ground."

Apple is actually working against this mission. And in its own way, Blizzard says, Google is too. ®

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