April 01, 2013

Developing HTML5 Standards to Solve Fragmentation Across Multiple Devices

HTML5 has yet to become an official Web standard (that will come in 2014) but the technology touted as the ‘future of the Web’ already enables a feature-rich user experience, offering support for high-speed video and geolocation services, offline tools, touch and more.

Synacor (NewsAlert) is a provider of a digital platform that powers TV Everywhere for cable, telco and satellite operators as well as programmers and CE manufacturers. The cloud-based platform also supports games, music, sports, news, e-mail services, next-gen portals, utilities and more across multiple connected devices.

“People have access to so much content from so many different sources on so many different devices, there’s a lot confusion about ‘What do I really have access to?’” Steve Davi, senior vice president of software engineering at Synacor, explained in a TMCnet interview. “Synacor is trying to solve the problem of that fragmentation issue and doing it in multiple ways. One is providing authentication and identification across systems, the other is allowing you to have deep connections with applications that provide you access to that content. But more importantly, providing a really awesome user experience that runs across multiple devices, and in order to do that, the best technology to use is HTML5.”

A problem with HTML5 is that it’s really focused on the user experience side of things, yet when building an application to deliver video; developers have to deal with other factors as well, such as the actual video player, the different mechanisms for delivering content and DRM for protecting content. So, developers tend to write user interfaces in HTML5 and then deal with other things in native formats and languages.

“What we really want to push is HTML5 interfaces to things like DRM, on-demand video playing, access to your DVR information, so someone can just program to HTML5 and have it run on all these different devices they need to run it on.”

Davi explains that there are many different video players and capabilities, so if you want to have an interaction with that player today, such as capturing a still or a five-second clip, you have to program that specific video player to enable that. Synacor’s goal is to move the standard forward to provide a much better experience for the consumer.

In a session at DevCon5, an HTML and mobile app developer’s conference, Davi will talk about what it takes today to build an application for video and entertainment versus what we would like to be able to do in the future for HTML5.

“Today, a lot of stuff is done with Flash video players. We’re going to talk about taking that apart and if you were to do that on multiple platforms, what parts could you do in HTML5 and what could you not do,” Davi explained. The goal is to look at the areas in which users and developers would like to see HTML5 expand, and enable them to do it all.

Another area HTML5 standards are necessary is in advertising for capabilities like being able to deal with the different ad integration protocols and tracking.

“Our vision is you want to be able to build an application using HTML5 that you build it once and can deploy it on many devices in order to provide access to on-demand video content and here is where we think HTML5 falls short today that needs to be expanded upon.”

The Worldwide Web Consortium (W3C (NewsAlert)) completed the HTML5 specification in December last year, giving businesses and developers a stable target to code for. The final phase in the process will involve the specification becoming a recommendation in 2014. Until then, HTML5 will undergo a period of interoperability and performance testing.

“DevCon5 is really aimed a lot at developers and we believe one of the things we’re providing with our carbon product is an environment on which people can build applications that will fit into an ecosystem to solve the fragmentation problem. There are really two things we want to see out of this: one is spreading the word about what we’re doing and getting people excited about building applications in our ecosystem. The other is the belief that HTMl5 is the way to solve this problem and the more we can get people innovating on that and collaborating and talking about it, the more exciting solutions we’re going to be able to deliver to consumers.”

Davi’s session, “Mobilizing the Change Vision for TV,” will be held on Wednesday, July 24 at 9:30 a.m. Click here to learn more.

Edited by Brooke Neuman


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