HTML5 and JavaScript tools: What could (and should) Microsoft do?

HTML5 and JavaScript tools: What could (and should) Microsoft do?

Summary: I'm hearing Microsoft may be gearing up to deliver new standalone dev tools for building HTML5 client applications, and also may be adding HTML5 support to Visual Studio. Could Mix '11 be the launch pad for these efforts?

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Microsoft has been beating the HTML5 drum increasingly loudly as its HTML5-compliant Internet Explorer (IE) 9 browser approaches the finish line. Company execs have said HTML5 is central to the company's cross-platform strategy. And IE 9 is seemingly at the heart of Microsoft's tablet push.

So what is Microsoft going to do, as far as putting its HTML5 development muscle where its mouth is?

Right now, Microsoft provides a number of HTML5, CSS and JavaScript tooling as part of Internet Explorer (as of version 8). With IE 9, there will be even more of these so-called F12 tools for creating, testing and administering IE sites.

But from tips I've been getting lately, Microsoft is poised to take things up a notch -- and might even announce some of its new tooling plans at the Mix '11 conference in mid-April.

Potentially on deck are new standalone tools and libraries for creating HTML5 client applications. There also could be additional support coming inside Visual Studio -- beyond what's slated for VS 2010 Service Pack 1 -- for HTML5 and JavaScript. (The final version of SP1 is slated for some time in the first half of calendar 2011.) An aside: The Microsoft browser programmability team at the company has, as part of its charter, the creation of "Visual Studio-caliber tools for HTML5 client development across IE and Windows."

"The only tools you should have to use to do HTML/JavaScript work are the browser and a good text editor. In-browser tooling helps make this feasible," said Andrew Brust, founder of Microsoft analysis and strategy provider Blue Badge Insights.

However, Brust added, "That said, there absolutely needs to be good HTML5 tooling in Visual Studio. The trend toward markup-intensive work with ASP.NET MVC and ASP.NET Web Pages with Razor makes this all the more urgent. Since developers are starting to move away from ASP.NET WebForms server controls (which could encapsulate the HTML 5 rendering and corresponding JavaScript), developers really need the helpers to assist them in writing the new markup and script that HTML 5 requires themselves."

Brust said he could see screen-design tools for the <canvas> tag, and SmartTag dialogs or other GUIs for working with the <audio>, <video> and other new tags being appreciated by Visual Studio developers.

Scott Barnes, a former Softie and founder of FIXWPF.org, said he'd expect any new Microsoft HTML5 tooling story would "likely to have Expression Blend/Web team’s involved given their current experience in this area."

"The tooling would need to complement Adobe software more so than the way Expression Blend and Web have in the past," Barnes said, "as that’s where the hearts and minds of designers are today."

"The last time Microsoft approached these folks, they wanted to drag them across kicking and screaming to the way Blend / Web works," Barnes said. "It didn’t work and has failed miserably. This time, they need to dig deeper and work harder to complement Adobe technology in order to combine .NET and HTML5 (with PHP sprinkled in for server share)."

If Microsoft does end up fielding new tooling for building HTML5 apps, the new tools won't usurp the place of the current F12 tools, Brust said. Some devs may only need the existing tools; others may use the full set.

"IE and Visual Studio each need HTML 5 dev tooling," he explained. "And while there is certainly overlap in the feature set each should have, they do in fact serve different audiences. The IE tooling would be for general diagnostic work with HTML and script on the client; the VS tooling would be for .NET developers building substantial Web server applications that also provide HTML 5 on the front-end."

I asked Microsoft officials for comment on talk that new HTML5 and JavaScript tools may be on the docket and didn't hear back. If/when I do, I'll add any comments they provide. In the interim, what do you think Microsoft could -- and should -- do around HTML5 dev tools, going forward?

Topics: Open Source, Microsoft, Software Development

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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27 comments
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  • Disappointed

    Highly disappointed, here.<br>Does your WordPress Dashboard even work (properly would be too much to ask, I guess) ? Mine doesn't. I have to switch to compatibility mode and back in order to perform tasks on the same TinyMCE article/page editor screen.<br>Not Everyone is using MS tools for development. I'm a huge IE fan, but this time i expected it to work with simple things as the WordPress dashboard. It doesn't. I really lost faith and hope in Microsoft for this one.<br>I pity the thousands of users migrated to Wordpress.com because of Live Spaces closing. They'll all need alternative browsers installed for things to work properly. I just don't get it, why can't this job be done properly ? After all we've had enough of web design trouble because of IE6, IE7, IE8 and now encore because of IE9 ? Thanks, but NO, thanks. I'll pass. Switching to Chrome or Opera. So long, IE 9 !
    cosmintataru
    • RE: HTML5 and JavaScript tools: What could (and should) Microsoft do?

      @winfaralimite ... WordPress has always taken a stance against IE and proactively worked to make sure that IE users in the admin pages get flagged with "hey, you should use browser X." I mean, don't get me wrong, I really like WordPress and use it for my own blog, but I hate when my products tell me what I should or shouldn't use. I use it because I like it, ya know?

      Now that said, obviously make sure your WP install is up-to-date for both security and functionality updates. Failing that, on the admin pages, read the links on the WP development blogs to see where they're at with IE9 support.

      But that said, what's the big deal with turning on compatibility mode for it? That's why the feature exists-- to maintain compatibility.
      GoodThings2Life
      • Already did those

        @GoodThings2Life - IE should prove a superior philosophy and take into account the huge popularity of Wordpress and other very widespread products as well, and really work with such popular things. About the philosophy about products if you say that Wordpress should not dictate to me about not using IE9, why should IE9 dictate instead to me not to use Wordpress ?
        I can guarantee that my Wordpress site is updated every day and turning compatibility mode on and off several times on the same page to accomplish publishing an article is not a user's wild dream to be honest.
        cosmintataru
      • @winfaralimite

        @GoodThings2Life IE DOES take into account the huge popularity of Wordpress and other very widespread products. IE9 (and at least IE8 before it) maintains a list of sites that are known to require the use of compatibility mode. But, respectfully, you're running a Release Candidate, Sir. The purpose of the Beta was to iron out bugs. The purpose of RC is to get user acceptance feedback. Part of that is fleshing out the list of sites that will default to compatibility mode. Make sure to send feedback about what pages of the WP Dashboard require compatibility mode (gear icon in the upper right, last entry: Send Feedback) and rest assured, something as popular as WP will work when IE9 is RTW.
        ericesque
  • In regards to VS integration...

    Three words: BRING IT ON!
    statuskwo5
    • H5 and JS are really lossy choices for serious APP development

      It's about the time to ditch what was not designed to be an APP framework to begin with.
      LBiege
      • RE: HTML5 and JavaScript tools: What could (and should) Microsoft do?

        @LBiege I couldn't agree more. The hoops you have to jump through to make HTML work for apps is staggering.
        Yensi717
  • RE: HTML5 and JavaScript tools: What could (and should) Microsoft do?

    I would love something along the lines of Google's GWT. I heard a few years back about Microsoft Volta, but that doesn't seem to have gone anywhere. I think something for creating really fast/optimized javascript apps would be a great tools addition.
    Darkninja962
  • Where is this taking us?

    While I appreciate how advertisers are looking forward to embedding more obnoxious videos and noises into webpages, are there any real benefits to common users and application developers?

    Every time I look around, the web developers are begging that we buy yet another development tool, always promising that "this one will let us get our stuff done faster". Then after they spend 3 months learning the new tools, a few new dribbles of code start to appear. In the meantime, our plain-jane V1.0 web pages keep on doing the job with little or no fuss.
    terry flores
  • RE: HTML5 and JavaScript tools: What could (and should) Microsoft do?

    Yes, something that competes with GWT is a must.
    If Microsoft want to leverage any of the existing .NET and Silverlight developers onto the web platform (which would include iOS).
    It would be great to see a XAML translation into HTML tags with a Script# like C# translator into JavaScript.
    joeyw72
  • I want to see a new editor

    I hate how web "experts" are saying that HTML5 doesn't lend itself well to WYSIWYG editors. I'm calling them out. I say F$#%ING PROVE IT! Not doing a WYSIWYG editor is just LAZY!

    I don't want to touch code. If HTML5 is so simplified, a WYSIWYG editor should be easy to make - moreso than HTML4 and all of it's variants, including XHTML. I can't stand CMS systems. I'd rather have a good WYSIWYG editor than a CMS, any day.
    Joe_Raby
    • RE: HTML5 and JavaScript tools: What could (and should) Microsoft do?

      @Joe_Raby

      Where the H#LL's the mega-thumbs up button when ya need it!?!

      P.S. -- ZDNet, you really need to bring back the thumb up & down for individual posts, and a thumb down at the article level!!!
      Techboy_z
  • When HTML supports...

    Out of browser apps
    Data binding
    Threading
    More than two containers
    Control inheritance
    Custom containers
    Sockets
    Native support for animations
    A real language (JavaScript is a joke)
    And any of 1000+ other features.

    In other words, when it can do everything Silverlight already does, give me a call. Until then, it's a pathetic joke targeted towards HTML weenies who can't figure out anything beyond a little markup.

    Want the perfect sign of a small mind? It's someone who says anything like this... "Oh, HTML 5 has a canvas, woohoo, it can do everything now." Just how moronic are HTML programmers. Look at the size of this text box. Just why exactly did they set it to this width? All the white space to the left and right, the genius didn't even set it to the same width as the subject textbox. Perhaps they think users love scroll bars and tiny data entry windows. HTML programmers are MORONS.
    jackbond
    • RE: HTML5 and JavaScript tools: What could (and should) Microsoft do?

      OK, folks, show's over. The creature is back in his cage.

      Back on topic, I'm worried about new designers in VS. Seems like whenever they add a new one and I start to use it, the system gets a bit more unstable, and my available RAM shrinks substantially. I think it may be wiser to switch to a federation of interconnected apps as opposed to one huge app that does everything. Entity Framework app to do the design work, but only the outputs are visible in the VS project... that kind of thing.
      scH4MMER
  • Microsoft already has HTML5/JavaScript dev tools!

    Visual Studio is already getting fully integrated with HTML5. Anything else would be a bonus!
    Tim Acheson
  • IE 9 HTML5 compliance miss-assumption

    It's a common miss-assumption/urban myth that IE 9 is HTML5-compliant.

    In fact, IE 9 RC is the worst browser when it comes to supporting simple things like HTML5 forms (something really useful).

    Allmost all major browsers either have a released version (Apple Safari 5, Google Chrome 9, Opera 10) with about 80% (or more) of HTML5 forms support, except Mozilla Firefox which does have it in the current beta of v4.

    IE 9 RC is the only browser in town which supports 0% of HTML5 forms lagging behind its competitor for about a year (or in case of the CSS text-shadow property: 3+ years).
    siegfriedcw
  • Tools, tools, tools!

    <i>"The only tools you should have to use to do HTML/JavaScript work are the browser and a good text editor. In-browser tooling helps make this feasible", said Andrew Brust</i><br><br>This is ridiculous. Notepad, or a color one, is what we had all this time.<br><br>What are the secret tools that Google uses to develop Gmail and the complete Pacman game? I would like to know. I can write Pacman in Windows Forms or Silverlight, but there's no way I can do it with Ajax in Notepad.<br><br>What we need are real .NET tools that cater to RIA. Right now there's only Silverlight. ASP.NET is good only for dumb web pages with minimal scripting. If Silverlight has been dumped then Microsoft had better come up with HTML5 tools that are as good.
    kingkong88@...
  • Tools, tools, tools!

    <i>?The only tools you should have to use to do HTML/JavaScript work are the browser and a good text editor. In-browser tooling helps make this feasible,? said Andrew Brust</i>

    This is ridiculous. Notepad, or a color one, is what we had all this time.

    What are the secret tools that Google uses to develop Gmail and the complete Pacman game? I would like to know. I can write Pacman in Windows Forms or Silverlight, but there's no way I can do it with Ajax in Notepad.

    What we need are real .NET tools that cater to RIA. Right now there's only Silverlight. ASP.NET is good only for dumb web pages with minimal scripting. If Silverlight has been dumped then Microsoft had better come up with HTML5 tools that are as good.
    kingkong88@...
  • So what is Microsoft going to do?

    Asked MJF

    If history is any guide, MS will try to pervert and alter the standards and make "versions" that only work properly with the Microsoft product.
    dfolk2
    • Isn't that an Apple trick?

      @dfolk2
      I think you're confusing the two.
      Will Farrell