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Q&A: The Now and Future Web

Philippe Le Hégaret leads the W3C Interaction Domain, which develops technologies in areas such as HTML and CSS. He recently spoke with Dr. Dobb's Jonathan Erickson.

Dr. Dobb's: Do we really need Web standards?

Le Hégaret: The most fundamental Web technologies must be compatible with one another and allow any hardware and software used to access the Web to work together. By publishing open, nonproprietary standards for Web languages and protocols, the W3C seeks to avoid market fragmentation and thus Web fragmentation.

Dr. Dobb's: Will HTML 5 be as fundamental to Web development in the future as HTML has been to date?

Le Hégaret: Yes, HTML will remain part of the fundamental Web technologies for many years. HTML 5 is introducing several new features to enhance the Web as a platform, allowing easier development and deployment of Web applications.

Dr. Dobb's: Will the "Semantic Web" be a parallel universe to the Web, or will it become a standard part of it?

Le Hégaret: The W3C vision is for one Web, so the Semantic Web is a standard part of the Web because it is based on Uniform Resource Identifiers, or URIs. The Semantic Web allows data to be shared and reused across applications, enterprises, and community boundaries.

It's about common formats for integration and combination of data drawn from different sources, as well as about the language for recording how the data relates to real-world objects.

Dr. Dobb's: So in that regard, "mobile web" shouldn't differ much from the desktop "World Wide Web" we're familiar with?

Le Hégaret: Today, many more people have access to mobile devices than access to a desktop computer, especially in developing countries. Again, the W3C's vision is for one Web, so effectively, no, the "mobile web" is not any different from the desktop Web, although it provides for a different user experience. The mobile web allows access from anywhere and requires Web authors to take into account the physical differences between the mobile and desktop interfaces. W3C has developed best practices for mobileOK Web sites.

Dr. Dobb's: How important is social networking in terms of the Web?

Le Hégaret: Many of the social networking interactions today are done through the social Web. It is very important to understand the systems and technologies that permit the description and identification of people, groups, organizations, and user-generated content in ways that protect privacy and are technically extensible. The W3C has active work in these timely and relevant areas.

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