Open Standards, HTML5 and the Future of ITSM
LiveTime has always been a pioneer in pushing open standards in the Enterprise. Not only are there demonstrable benefits from the customer perspective, most of which are self evident, such as interoperability and vendor neutrality, but there are also significant benefits from the perspective of the software vendor.
LiveTime has been working towards a totally new user experience for the next major release of its ITIL Service Management platform. To achieve this new level of interactivity, which rivals any desktop application, and not resort to any tricks involving plugins like Flash, Silverlight or other proprietary systems, we focused on open standards and HTML5.
The good, the bad, the ugly
One of the interesting discussions we had revolved around the support of legacy browsers, particularly IE6. With a significant number of our larger clients in the government and military we needed to assess the impact on the user base as well as the development effort required to support it.
We determined pretty quickly that the major road block in supporting modern HTML5 syntax was IE6. What we were surprised to find was just how much time was being spent in actually developing and supporting that browser on our existing framework. If you have a look at the diagram below you will see that the level of effort required to support IE6 is around 50% of overall user interface design and development. This of course has a huge impact on resources, and provides very limited gains from a user perspective.
Clearly we are not alone in this assessment and there are many campaigns and discussions around why developers should stop supporting IE6. Given the number of security flaws alone, most of our customers had already switched to Firefox or Safari, and those that persisted with Explorer were using at IE7 or later. Therefore it was an easy decision to drop support for IE6.
HTML5 and CSS3
In moving towards the new HTML5 standard we had to decide on the level of support that was actually available in the market place, while giving users the flexibility of using any browser. What is interesting is that virtually all browsers now support this upcoming standard already, except for Internet Explorer, which lacks core support for Canvas and other key elements.
With such a large number of users (albeit shrinking quickly), it is was clear we still had to provide a way to support IE7 and above. What is good for both developers and consumers alike, is how the smartphone market has been helping drive the HTML5 standard forward.
The recent news that Internet Explorer 9 will actually support HTML5 will help IE users make this transition a lot better. In the mean time, LiveTime has spent considerable effort in ensuring the more advanced UI elements degrade gracefully while providing all the advances that this new paradigm will bring.
HTML5 brings a significant number of features to Web applications that were only possible in desktop applications in the past. This includes native support for drawing on the browser canvas itself, which allows users to design interactive workflows, draw charts natively on the page, drag and drop based request and change management. There are few limits to this new technology and what it will do for your business.
With the shift to mobile computing platforms such as the iPhone and iPad as well as Googles new Web Based operating system, LiveTime is available from any device at any time. Couple this unique user interactivity with the ability to deploy LiveTime on any server or cloud platform such as Google Apps, Amazon EC2 etc, and you have a scalable ITIL Service Management platform for the future.
Our next discussion will focus on Open Standards as they relate Grid and Cloud based storage solutions with LiveTime.