[whatwg] Geolocation in the browser

Dave Raggett dsr at w3.org
Sun Feb 25 09:24:01 PST 2007

To develop an effective standard, there needs to be a broad 
consensus on requirements and the proposed solution across all of 
the players. Agreement on a set of illustrative use cases can help 
to create a shared understanding as part of the process for forging 
a concensus.

I would recommend becoming a member of the W3C and joining the 
proposed Ubiquitous Web Applications working group. You would then 
be able to make contributions on use cases, requirements and 
potential solutions and work with others on developing the 
corresponding working drafts.

Note that the resulting standard could be implemented in a number of 
different ways, e.g. by browser vendors, or by third parties as 
browser extensions, or as cross-browser plugins. As I stated in my 
last email, the security considerations need to be addressed in a 
broader context than just geolocation, and we hope to discuss the 
usability implications at the forthcoming W3C workshop. The call for 
papers for that will be published in a few days time.

p.s. the potential uncertainty in location data (e.g. when on the 
boundary between two postal code areas) suggests a similarity with 
speech recognition, and the consequent idea of returning a list of 
hypotheses and associated confidence scores rather than just the 
highest ranking solution. A more detailed assessment of the 
requirements should perhaps include a study of uncertainty.

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

On Fri, 23 Feb 2007, Ryan Sarver wrote:

> Dave,
> Thanks for following up -- I echo your thoughts exactly. It's great to
> see so much momentum and support within W3 already. I would be very
> interested in the upcoming workshop -- let me know when the call for
> papers opens up.
>> From your point of view, what should the next steps be for documenting
> this and getting the ball rolling in terms of working towards
> standardization?
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Dave Raggett [mailto:dsr at w3.org]
> Sent: Friday, February 23, 2007 9:02 AM
> To: Ryan Sarver
> Cc: whatwg at lists.whatwg.org; mike at w3.org
> Subject: Re: [whatwg] Geolocation in the browser
> 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:
>   http://www.w3.org/2005/Security/usability-ws/report
> 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
> at:
>   http://www.w3.org/2006/10/uwa-charter.html#workshops
>  Dave Raggett <dsr at w3.org> http://www.w3.org/People/Raggett

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