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WebAPI: Mozilla Proposes Open App Interface For Smartphones

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the too-much-sense dept.

Mozilla 62

An anonymous reader writes "Mozilla has an idea for how it can bridge the gap between native apps and web applications: WebAPI will be developed as a set of HTML5 APIs and deliver consistent, web-based application interfaces that can be accessed by any HTML5-capable device, specifically smartphones."

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62 comments

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Yay! API sprawl! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37180752)

Yay! More API sprawl! Just what we wanted!

Re:Yay! API sprawl! (2)

sarysa (1089739) | more than 2 years ago | (#37181288)

Those Booty's (-1, Offtopic)

OhYesBooty (2444552) | more than 2 years ago | (#37180770)

I never thought it would happen to me, but it did. It happened about a week ago. I got a virus on my computer. A very bad virus that wouldn't go away unless I paid the creators $65! However, being an experienced user, I was confident that I would be able to get rid of it.

I was wrong. None of the usual solutions worked at all. They just served to waste my time and nothing more. Feeling crushed, drained, and depressed, I became a mere shell of what I once was. I was trapped deep inside a hopeless pit of despair.

That's when I found MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] . I went to MyCleanPC's [mycleanpc.com] website, ran a free scan, and it totally cleaned up my system and increased my speed this minuteness!

MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] is outstanding! My computer is running faster than ever! MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] totally cleaned up my system and increased my speed! MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] came through with flying colors where no one else could!

MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] saved my computer from a horribly frustrating virus. If you're having problems with your computer, then I recommend using MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] . It'll totally clean up your system and your gigabits will be running like new!

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Re:Those Booty's (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#37180886)

Fuck you.

Re:Those Booty's (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37180922)

I know I shouldn't be replying to spam, but I couldn't help but laugh at this:

Feeling crushed, drained, and depressed, I became a mere shell of what I once was.

Really? All this over a virus? I can't decide if I should feel sorry for the "marketing guy" that came up with that line, or wish that he should be shot.

Re:Those Booty's (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37181800)

I also find it funny that he refuses to pay $65 to the virus creator but has no beef paying for the scam that is MyCleanPC.

Re:Those Booty's (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37182444)

There is an 800 number on their site. I think we should all call and let them know how we feel about them spamming /.

Re:Those Booty's (1)

Kalriath (849904) | more than 2 years ago | (#37184598)

What, the fuck, is a minuteness.

What really matters? (2, Funny)

ifrag (984323) | more than 2 years ago | (#37180794)

I am disappoint. What I really want to know is how big the version number will be. Can we expect the release of WebAPI to start at 11.0?

Re:What really matters? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37180822)

By the time this gets released Firefox will be at 45 Beta and won't be fully stable until version 88. Luckily, you will only have to wait 3 days to reach that point.

Re:What really matters? (1)

H0p313ss (811249) | more than 2 years ago | (#37180908)

By the time this gets released Firefox will be at 45 Beta and won't be fully stable until version 88. Luckily, you will only have to wait 3 days to reach that point.

Unfortunately in those three days the system becomes self aware...

Re:What really matters? (1)

uniquename72 (1169497) | more than 2 years ago | (#37182266)

Will WebAPI break my most important apps every time there's an update?

(Seriously, fuck you, Mozilla.)

Re:What really matters? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37188634)

Seriously, you should be using the stable API (Jetpack).

Also known as .... (0)

sunking2 (521698) | more than 2 years ago | (#37180942)

How we can completely cancel out any battery life improvements of the last 10 years.

Re:Also known as .... (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#37181162)

How else would you recommend working around the $300 per year* overhead cost of developing native iOS applications and the iOS application approval process? If phone makers want to diminish their products' battery life by promoting battery-inefficient application platforms, let 'em.

* Breaks down as follows: $100 per year for the cert, $500 every 5 years for buying a MacBook Air and a copy of Windows to run in VirtualBox instead of a Windows laptop, and $250 every 2.5 years for an iPod touch on which to test iOS applications.

Re:Also known as .... (1)

Desler (1608317) | more than 2 years ago | (#37181242)

If you can't afford $300 a year then you probably should choose a different job than a professional programmer. $300 is less than a days pay for any professional programmer.

Re:Also known as .... (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#37181322)

I know professional programmers working for less than $80k. Protip: Not all of the worlds programmers live in the first world.

Re:Also known as .... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37181378)

Yeah, some of them live in America.

Re:Also known as .... (1)

Desler (1608317) | more than 2 years ago | (#37181390)

Yes, but even those programmers in the second and third world are more than capable of paying $300 a year (which is mostly inflated since you add a bunch of artificial costs that are not absolutely necessity for iOS development) for the development tools. Hell you'll pay more than for Android development since you'll be forced to buy way more than just a single device to check compatibility of your apps.

Artificial costs of iOS native app development (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#37181576)

(which is mostly inflated since you add a bunch of artificial costs that are not absolutely necessity for iOS development)

What might those artificial costs be? The $99 per year for a certificate is unavoidable outside the underground jailbreak-only ecosystem. People have criticized me for adding the price of a Mac, claiming that someone would have bought a computer anyway. So instead, I added the rough difference in price between a MacBook Air and a Windows 7 Home Premium license on the one hand and what someone would have bought otherwise (a midrange laptop that comes with Windows 7 Home Premium) on the other hand.

Not all programmers are professional from day one (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#37181502)

$300 is less than a days pay for any professional programmer.

Not all people are in a financial position to move to a place with a high concentration of employers willing to pay a professional programmer $300 per day. They have to start it as a hobby and build it up into a profession in order to build a portfolio to show to employers. They also need some source of income on which to relocate and live while seeking a job, and that source of income might not pay $300 per day.

Re:Also known as .... (1)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 2 years ago | (#37182956)

$300 is less than a days pay for any professional programmer.

I'm living in the wrong country.

Re:Also known as .... (1)

Dr Herbert West (1357769) | more than 2 years ago | (#37183792)

Well, I live in a major metropolitan area. My day rate is $500 USD.

But I don't work every day.... so yeah, dropping 400 bucks randomly on some iDevice is something I think twice about.

Re:Also known as .... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37185658)

$300 a year? I wish. Hell, I had to buy a solid gold swimming pool to hold all that cash I'm making. Never mind the accountant and personal assistants. Or buying my very own VD clinic to screen all the poon that gets thrown at me. Don't even get me started on the cost of anal beads, nipple clamps, and lube.

you're going to make me cry... (1)

kriebz (258828) | more than 2 years ago | (#37181136)

over the death of webOS again.

Not that this is overlap, but wasn't part of the point of webOS that the UIs were HTML, thus streamlining the presentation layer?

javascript sucks, it should be contained (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37181892)

Javascript would be a tolerable language for a smaller user base, but the official scripting language for web pages should be at least somewhat good. Javascript should be replaced with something better, like Python.

Re:javascript sucks, it should be contained (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37183022)

Good news everyone! I have discovered a way to run vbscript, directly in the browser!

"Like Python" (1)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 2 years ago | (#37183446)

No. There is a reason why Python is still a very minority language and Javascript (ECMAScript to be exact) is not. Javascript is good enough. For the great majority, Python is a PITA. Practicality trumps perfectionism, every single time.

"Was...were" (1)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 2 years ago | (#37183374)

Even if only 10% of the zombie touchpads in the field continue to run webOS, the loyal user base will continue to develop for it. Perhaps they are wrong or misguided...but people still buy Morgan cars and build wooden sailboats. And I, wierdo that I am, Bluetooth tether a Pre to an Android tablet and can run the same HTML5 on both.

An open API for apps? (0)

metamatic (202216) | more than 2 years ago | (#37181192)

Yeah, I'm sure Apple will get right onto that.

Re:An open API for apps? (1)

Desler (1608317) | more than 2 years ago | (#37181298)

Totally. We are still fighting Apple to support things like HTML5. Oh wait...

Re:An open API for apps? (1)

metamatic (202216) | about 3 years ago | (#37193712)

Yes, Apple's excellent HTML 5 support enables web apps to simply install an icon on the iPhone home screen and behave like real apps.

Oh, wait...

Re:An open API for apps? (3, Informative)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 2 years ago | (#37181436)

They already have one - HTML5 apps are already a feature of iOS. They predate the App Store, even.

Re:An open API for apps? (1)

metamatic (202216) | about 3 years ago | (#37193692)

HTML 5 apps can be first-class apps on the phone with icons and everything, and don't require bundling and placing in the app store, eh?

No, didn't think so.

Re:An open API for apps? (1)

jo_ham (604554) | about 3 years ago | (#37194890)

They can have icons and everything, and can be launched right from your home screen.

There's currently a speed discrepancy between apps launched this way and the exact same app navigated to from within Safari due to an older version of Webkit being used from the home-screen-launched version, due to security and sandboxing complexity (the new version is faster, but would create a security problem without a proper sandbox), but this is being fixed in iOS5.

And no, you don't have to have them bundled with the phone, or get them through the App Store.

So you "didn't thin so" because you didn;t actually do any research on the topic. Classic slashdot.

Re:An open API for apps? (1)

scuba0 (950343) | more than 2 years ago | (#37183264)

Well like the Swedish company called Ericsson who has been working on technology like this for about or over a year. See Ericsson Labs and https://labs.ericsson.com/developer-community/blog/omg-camera-still [ericsson.com] for mor information on this.

For those that do not know of Ericsson, they are very large within telecom infrastructure, and if they still do, also owns the Ericsson part in phone manufacturer Sony Ericsson.)

Altruistic, but unrealistic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37181218)

Yeah like Apple and Microsoft will adopt this... Mozilla's altruism, while nice to see, is always misguided and unrealistic.

Re:Altruistic, but unrealistic (1)

kvvbassboy (2010962) | more than 2 years ago | (#37181328)

I don't know about Apple since they are more or less part of a duopoly, but Microsoft will only stand to gain from this. A common API means easier to port functionality between platforms, right?

Re:Altruistic, but unrealistic (1)

LUH 3418 (1429407) | about 3 years ago | (#37186868)

Um, let's see...You're talking about the company that:

1. Refused to adopt POSIX standards.
2. Has its own calling conventions for C/C++ incompatible with the GNU ones.
3. Released Direct3D to try and kill OpenGL.
4. Actually had people on the OpenGL board trying to actively stall its development.
5. Tried to release J++ to compete with Java.
6. Maintained its own Java VM for years, slightly incompatible with Sun's.
7. Released C#, to compete with Java.
8. Opposed open document formats.
9. Released it's own API to compete with both CUDA and OpenCL.
10. Has had the least standard compliant web browser for years.

Those are only the cases I know about, but yeah... Sure... Judging from their track record, they'll adopt these web APIs right away... Microsoft loves interoperability...

Re:Altruistic, but unrealistic (2)

Lennie (16154) | more than 2 years ago | (#37182020)

I don't agree.

Do you think HTML5 would have existed without Mozilla.

It was Mozilla and Opera that started the WHATWG which started the work on HTML5.

Now all major browsers (IE9, Opera, Firefox, Chromium/Chrome, Safari) support large parts of the HTML5 and related specifications and are working on adding more support each release they do.

Ha! (1)

mdm-adph (1030332) | more than 2 years ago | (#37181256)

Man, Mozilla, as a mobile web developer, I wish the best for you, but get ready for disappointment.

Qt + QML (1)

larppaxyz (1333319) | more than 2 years ago | (#37181428)

Yes.

PhoneGap (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37182040)

How is this different than PhoneGap? If there is already a popular open source project that does this, why does Mozilla want to develop another?

Re:PhoneGap (2)

Salamanders (323277) | more than 2 years ago | (#37182218)

Because of http://xkcd.com/927/ [xkcd.com]
(And I agree, phonegap has this covered!)

Re:PhoneGap (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37184760)

How is this different than PhoneGap? If there is already a popular open source project that does this, why does Mozilla want to develop another?

They don't completely overlap, and they share some APIs. Here's a quick rundown:

  • Accelerometer API - Both Mozilla and PhoneGap have their own APIs. Google is trying to standardize its API via W3C.
  • Camera API / Capture API - I think Mozilla is following the HTML Media Capture spec. PhoneGap uses it's own APIs.
  • Compass API - Appears to be specific to PhoneGap.
  • Connection API - PhoneGap uses it's own API. It's unclear if Mozilla has a similar API.
  • Contacts API - Mozilla is implementing the W3C Contacts API spec. PhoneGap uses it's own API.
  • Device API - PhoneGap uses it's own API. It's unclear what direction Mozilla will take at this time.
  • Events API - Mobile device events, such as certain buttons. This appears to be specific to PhoneGap, although there may be some overlap with HTML5.
  • Filesystem API - Mozilla uses the W3C FileReader and FileWriter specs. PhoneGap uses it's own API.
  • Geolocation API - Both use the W3C Geolocation API.
  • Media API - Specific to PhoneGap, but there is probably some overlap with HTML5 and various sound API proposals.
  • Notification - Specific to PhoneGap.
  • Storage - PhoneGap uses the outdated W3C Web SQL Database API. Mozilla uses IndexedDB.
  • Telephony & Messaging API - Exclusive to Mozilla's WebAPI

Note that many of the APIs in WebAPI are already being developed as standards. WebAPI is not intended to be part of a framework, but part of your browser, so your browser's sync feature will allow you to use these apps with their data on any device. PhoneGap, while open source, appears to place less emphasis on standardizing their APIs for inclusion in all browsers and more focus on using Web technologies to build apps that are deployed via conventional app stores.

Born to Fail (2)

FlyingGuy (989135) | more than 2 years ago | (#37182066)

This will fail over time but it will fail. We can only hope it fails sooner rather then later.

The idiocy of mixing a layout specification with code is going to open us up to more and more interesting types of viri and malware.

Remember CORBA? It has never seen the light of day in any serious way. It WAS a great idea.

Why have we not learned that a layout engine is most assuredly not the right tool for the job? The amount of hacks and just plain insanity you have to go through just to get thinks to work from one browser to another is starting to make lots and lots of people just go dust off their RAD tools, eg: Delphi, Power Builder, etc and just write the damn app and call it a day.

At some point the browser will have to be so huge to support the never ending flow of committee designed API's that they will make MS-Access look like a memory efficient application.

Applications are not documents and the browser needs to get back to doing document presentation and we need to build application processor that takes in application specifications and then runs them because trying to do both has been, is and will forever be a fucking mess.

Re:Born to Fail (1)

LeDopore (898286) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185678)

I agree with your sentiment. However, when's the last time you installed a binary from a company you've never heard of? When's the last time you've visited an active website from a similarly obscure company?

The barrier to entry for web apps is so absurdly low that many companies or projects are going to use them just because it's the only way to run code on users' computers. Given web apps are here to stay for at least a certain market segment, ask yourself if WebAPI is a good or a bad thing; that's really the only question left.

Re:Born to Fail (1)

LUH 3418 (1429407) | about 3 years ago | (#37187208)

I think that the ideal compromise might be a combination of a VM (e.g.: Java, .NET or NaCl), some object sharing/serialization protocol (like CORBA or even just JSON), a distribution system (like an app store) and some low-level APIs.

Imagine if webpages were not made of HTML+CSS+JS+Images and a bunch of other files, but instead just code. You go to some URL, and each page is an app, that can run in its own window (or even spawn multiple windows). You wouldn't have to install anything, you just go to the URL, it gets downloaded and run. You could give some apps special privileges (e.g.: local file system access, webcam access) if you trust them enough.

The difference with the current web is that the apps wouldn't be constrained by HTML, HTTP, or any of those. Code wouldn't have to be written in some fixed language. It would just have to compile to the VM's low-level language. The VM could expose some low-level APIs for things like file-access, but, in my opinion, they should be kept simple (lowest common denominator) to ease portability. Right now, the JS APIs are way too complex because they're intertwined with the insane complexity of the HTML DOM, which seems unstandardizable.

What I describe sounds alot like Java applets I guess, but without being forced to be part of a browser, and with some low-level API to connect to the server, and perhaps faster loading times.

Re:Born to Fail (1)

FlyingGuy (989135) | about 3 years ago | (#37191746)

You don't have to take a binary, you can take pure text that is easily parsed and controlled. eg:

objectMyMainForm : TForm
left = 100
top = 100
width = 400
height = 200
caption = 'Application One'
color = clBtnFace
font.charset = DEFAULT_CHARSET
font.color = clWindowText
font.height = -11
font.name = 'arial'
font.style = []
PixelsPerInch = 96
TextHeight = 14
object MyButton : tbutton
left = 10
top = 10
width = 40
height = 20
caption = 'Do It Now!'
onClick = MyButtonClick
end
end

So above is one of many ways you can use the very text generated by the form designer, in this case I chose Dephi but it could be any form design tool, and that is parsed and each object instantiated. Because the button control is created within the form object we know who its owner is and in automatically inherits many of the properties of the parent ( in this case the main form ) so you can be as explicit as you like or not.

Since each of these are based upon native controls the creation is pretty much instant. Since this is just text it can be compressed and encrypted and then can be examined one the "browser" side.

The only thing you have to do is create an interpreter to handle this events. The language could be JavaScript, Pascal, Python, C or pretty much any oter language you wanted to use ( Hell make up your own ) and there are lots of FOOS interpreters out there.

RAD tools like Delphi, Power Builder, etc already have data aware controls like grids, Up Down Rollers, Pick Lists etc and pre-built methods that handle 90% of what you need to do so I don't think it is a very big stretch to make this paradigm a working viable method for application delivery since there are x-plat versions of things like QT and the like that would make this method completely useable on Windows, Linux and Mac

Re:Born to Fail (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37186788)

I remember CORBA, I bug-fix an implementation frequently. It's the only part of anything I've ever seen my large tech company get officially denounced in documentation as the most inferior of all protocols available. It's slow. REST APIs make far better sense for any purpose I've seen.

To be honest, I've been hoping for a standard non-web way to program multiple smart phones. It could be a way to clean the slate and make an interpreter that's application-only. Who cares about the performance edge, just something easy to code that's interpreted and can run everywhere.

Future past? (1)

gfilion (80497) | more than 2 years ago | (#37182552)

... WebAPI will developed ...

Ha yes, the good old future past tense. I will liked it a lot!

Mozillhate (2)

kangsterizer (1698322) | more than 2 years ago | (#37182554)

When I read the comments, even if its unrelated to Firefox, all the top ones are only pure trolling again Mozilla.
Mozillhate is the new trend I guess. If you hate, you'll get karma and support!

Re:Mozillhate (1)

supersloshy (1273442) | more than 2 years ago | (#37183614)

You must be new here. It doesn't just end with Mozilla:

* Chrome
* IE
* GNOME
* KDE
* iThings
* Nintendo 3DS/Wii (to be fair, everybody does this everywhere)
* Google+
* Facebook

What's hilarious though is that almost everything that the majority of Slashdot bashes over and over becomes successful (look at Firefox and Chrome usage numbers months after everyone started saying "people are jumping ship left and right"). This is all just "No Wireless. Less space than a nomad. Lame" all over again.

Re:Mozillhate (1)

kangsterizer (1698322) | more than 2 years ago | (#37183698)

Im just pointing out its the current hate trend.
I don't think Chrome or G+ have been bashed a lot.

Re:Mozillhate (1)

subreality (157447) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185454)

I think it started with the Awesome Bar. I like the feature but some people didn't, and being told it was "awesome" just made them feel alienated, like the Moz devs were completely out of touch.

Apple Spin (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37182688)

You commenters all sound like writers for Apple. Your group think makes me smile.

With a new API every 6 weeks (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 2 years ago | (#37182818)

And of course incompatible with the previous version

'for smartphones' = fail (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37183672)

developing something that will be out of date before it's stable.

ActiveX for iOS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37183688)

Wonderful.

Past is prologue (1)

rdean400 (322321) | more than 2 years ago | (#37184828)

The comments from the Mozilla haters seem pretty short-sighted and stupid.

Apple's first SDK for the iPhone was HTML/JavaScript based. It only failed because the renderer and JavaScript engine was pretty horrid and made it hard to produce good quality apps.

HTML5 is now pretty robust, and between PhoneGap and a UI toolkit (like Dojo Mobile) it is possible to produce good/great applications and be able to take a huge portion of code from iOS to Android to others.

In the end, the bias in software development should be to do as much code as you can in a cross-platform way, and then go native where it really suits the app's requirements. If you do anything else, you're wasting money.

So, this is hardware acceleration for HTML 5? (1)

notKevinJohn (2218940) | more than 2 years ago | (#37185010)

It sounds like this is just a series of APIs to try and make the hardware of a mobile device available to an HTML 5 application? It would be nice for HTML 5 to have hardware acceleration, and for HTML 5 apps to be able to take advantage of GPS, accelerometer, etc data, but I don't think its the right approach. Personally, I like Adobe's approach to the problem of OS fragmentation with AIR better: create and maintain client-side run-time environments (VM's) that can execute pre-compiled code to facilitate OS agnosticism in applications. It worked pretty darn well for solving the problem of writing web application with OS/Browser agnosticism, I think it could do the same for the mobile platform.

WebAPI= WebOS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37186856)

Interesting that some of the fundamentals of this idea re built in to the DNA of the recently euthanized WebOS. I was always attracted to, conceptually, at least- using Javascript, HTMl and CSS frameworks for delivering Rich client GUIs, which is EXACTLY what WebOS was designed to do. As I understand, WebOS was a pleasure to dvelop for, too bad HP/Palm couldn't make a worthwhile go of it. Better luck Mozilla!

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