Mozilla CEO: The browser has a long way to go

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Firefox 3.5 is one of the self-proclaimed 'modern browsers' based on HTML 5 – but what does that actually mean and what is the real status of HTML 5 as a standard? To Mozilla CEO John Lilly, it’s more about stepping stones and building blocks than one over-arching standard. "When I talk about 'modern' browsers, it’s fast JavaScript, it’s sophisticated graphics, it’s offline storage, it’s all the same things Google have said. Geo[location] – I’m not sure geo is required to be a modern browser, although we like it. I think that we've got a bunch of these standards now and when you start to put them together, you get a really powerful package. We prefer smaller, more fundamental building blocks as standards. Canvas is a great one – it’s a standard but it’s not on the '65%' browser, on IE."

So where does that leave HTML 5, which Google often talks about as though it was already approved? "I think HTML 5 is more of a collection of things that have gotten traction for a little while and gotten good consensus through WHATWG (which is probably the most effective Web working group). You do the best to try to figure out what the fundamental building blocks are going to be and implement systems and then standardise as you go, or standardise a little afterward. I think that we now have a set of standards that are coalescing into HTML 5. But I think HTML 5 as a thing, as a whole entity, that’s a pretty long time coming."

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