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StaffIncremental BloggerWill HTML5's canvas tag save ink in the browser?

Will HTML5’s canvas tag save ink in the browser?

The Tablet PC doesn’t support ink in the browser. That’s the way it’s been since Day 1. However, there’s no doubt that many people spend a large part of their time in the browser so even if they have a Tablet PC with inking capabilities it’s not going to do them much good in terms of the browser itself.

In the meantime people can use ActiveX controls for inking in IE or possibly an ink-enabled plug-in in Firefox or even a custom program in Flash or Silverlight. This is a starter. However, none of the solutions are very sophisticated and nothing’s even close to being a standard. There are no ink standards yet.

There is one other alternative: HTML5. HTML5 is a committee driven standard that may or may not work out. The goal is to take the browser a step closer to being an agreed upon application framework. And within that framework is one little tag called “canvas” that might become the real key to ink in the browser. Why? Because the canvas is intended to support vector graphics–which ink has essentially become a part of–save for the original ink designed for the Tablet PC.

Unfortunately, the one big player here, the IE team, isn’t sold on canvas yet. And Chris Wilson of the IE team and part of the HTML5 working group doesn’t see canvas in Microsoft’s plan for its next gen browser, IE8.

That’s too bad. Ink is going to take awhile to coallesce around a standard and as a foundation to that standard, there’s going to need to be something like canvas first.

Of anyone, you’d think that Microsoft would be leading here. But it’s not. I guess Microsoft sees Flash and Silverlight as the graphics intensive leaders for the near term. That’s probably I wise guess. However, that should not preclude graphics capabilities in the broader sense.

What I’d like to see the Tablet team revisit ink on the browser. Scratch that. I’d like to see the IE team step up and start thinking about ink as a first class citizen. With Microsoft’s experience with XAML and Silverlight this should be a natural.


canvas looks like a useful feature, it’s not in Microsoft’s plan for IE8.

Loren Heiny (1961 - 2010) was a software developer and author of several computer language textbooks. He graduated from Arizona State University in computer science. His first love was robotics.

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