W3C steps toward animated Web

The World Wide Web Consortium releases the first public working draft of the Document Object Model, or DOM.

World Wide Web Consortium released the first public working draft today of the Document Object Model, or DOM.

The DOM specification aims to turn elements on a Web page into objects. In such an environment, Web designers can use languages such as HTML, XML, and scripts to manipulate and update those objects without bringing data down from a server. Some examples include changing colors, updating calculation tables, and changing font sizes on the fly.

Today's release only covers core functionality, but the DOM working group will subsequently release drafts that specify how such languages work within DOM. Even though DOM is the basis for dynamic HTML, today's draft doesn't mention it specifically.

"Dynamic HTML is a marketing term used by some vendors to describe a combination of HTML, style sheets, and scripts that allows documents to be animated," said W3C spokeswoman Sally Khudairi.

Both Netscape Communications and Microsoft support their own versions of dynamic HTML in their latest 4.0 browsers. Those versions, however, currently contain many incompatibilities, so designers trying their hand with the new techniques have to choose either a Navigator or Internet Explorer audience. They also risk having to retool their work once the evolving specification becomes a standard, which probably won't happen until 1998.

Later drafts will also cover events, security, and style sheets, according to the W3C.

Members of the DOM working group include ArborText, Grif, IBM, Inso, Microsoft, Netscape, Novell, the Object Management Group, SoftQuad, and Sun Microsystems.