[whatwg] Geolocation in the browser

Dave Raggett dsr at w3.org
Fri Feb 23 06:01:49 PST 2007

On Wed, 21 Feb 2007, Ryan Sarver wrote:

> Robert,
> I hear you ... the idea is really two fold -- the first part is to 
> standardize how web applications access the location information, 
> regardless of how it is determined. The second is to offer a 
> standard way of different location acquiring technologies -- GPS, 
> Wifi positioning, geocoding an user-entered address, etc -- to 
> deliver location to the browser. In this case I am proposing using 
> the NMEA standard as it is well documented and would allow for 
> compatibility with existing GPS devices.

Following on from Michael Smith's email on proosed W3C work in this 
area, I thought it might be helpful to provide a litte context.

There is a great deal of interest in location based web applications 
and the challenge is how to expose this to browsers in a way that is 
independent of how the location is determined. Web applications may 
need control over what format the information is provided, and how 
often it is updated when the device is moving.

There are obviously lots of security concerns over location and this 
is part of a broader context of giving web applications richer 
access to device capabilities. A common approach is to ask the user 
for permission each time the application is run. That raises 
usability concerns, such as is the user able to discern whether the 
application is bona fide website or whether it is a phishing site 
masquerading as a bona fide website. This is a real problem for 
desktop browsers and is likely to be an even greater challenge on 
the smaller displays on mobile devices. Walled gardens provide a 
partial solution, but don't scale to the Internet as a whole.

W3C's April 2006 workshop on transpency and usability of web 
authentication looked at some of the issues, see:


We are now planning a further workshop for June 5-6 in Dublin, 
Ireland to follow up with a broader look at the issues involved in 
declative models of distributed web applications. A public call for 
papers will be issued in the near future. An brief outline is given 


  Dave Raggett <dsr at w3.org> http://www.w3.org/People/Raggett

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