W3C's Web Storage technology goes live

The World Wide Web Consortium offers a richer alternative to Internet cookies

The World Wide Web Consortium has finalized its specification for Web Storage, a technology that would give Web applications more flexibility in storing data on user machines.

Now that Web Storage is an official specification, browser makers and Web application developers can deploy the technology without worrying about changes to the API (application programming interface), or about being liable for potential patent infringement.

The W3C's Web Applications (WebApps) Working Group shepherded the W3C approval of the standard, after it was first developed by the Google engineer Ian Hickson and the Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group <a href="http://www.whatwg.org/">(WHATWG)</a>.

Web Storage works a bit like HTTP session cookies, which can store user data on the user's machine for a Web site for extended user sessions, such as those for online purchases.

Web Storage offers a number of advantages over cookies though. It provides programmers with a richer programmatic interface. It makes it easier for a browser to support multiple sessions at the same site simultaneously. It also offers the ability to store megabytes of information on the user's computer, which could be handy for storing a user's email box, or documents that the user authored.

"One of the nice properties of Web Storage is that is a relatively simple specification from a feature and API perspective," wrote Arthur Barstow, co-chair of the WebApps Working Group, in an email interview.

For more complex offline storage needs, Barstow recommended the W3C's <a href="http://www.w3.org/TR/IndexedDB/">Indexed Database API</a>, now in development.

Unlike many Web standards, Web Storage attracted a lot of interest early on from browser makers. It is already supported in Internet Explorer (back to version 8), Firefox, Opera, Chrome, and Safari.

With Web Storage, Each site has its own storage area on the user's machine. Material is stored as key/value pairs, where each key is a string. The data itself must be in the string format as well. Each type of browser sets its own limit of how much data could be stored on the user's computer, ranging from 5MB to 25MB.

Web Storage also provides some functionality to aid in user privacy. It provides a way to delete data after a certain period of time and restricts access to the data to just the websites that created the storage area. Domain name spoofing can be prevented by the use of Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocol.

The work is not yet finished. The group still has to reduce the high overhead of using the storage mutex (mutual exclusion) object, which was designed to avoid race conditions.

The group also has to address a number of outstanding security issues. For instance, different services all sharing a single domain name could snoop on each other's stored data. Service providers could also share user data on a machine without the user's knowledge, which could encourage surreptitious user tracking.

The W3C is a standards organization that publishes open standard protocols and guidelines to ensure the long-term growth of the Web. It is headed by Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee and CEO Jeffrey Jaffe.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is Joab_Jackson@idg.com

Tags Languages and standardsapplication developmentsoftwareWorld Wide Web Consortium

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Joab Jackson

IDG News Service

Comments

Comments are now closed.

Most Popular Reviews

Follow Us

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Latest News Articles

Resources

Best Deals on GoodGearGuide

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?