Welcome!

Java IoT Authors: Liz McMillan, Carmen Gonzalez, Elizabeth White, Nate Vickery, Pat Romanski

Related Topics: Java IoT, Microservices Expo, IoT User Interface

Java IoT: Article

Book Excerpt: Introducing HTML5

HTML5 marks a groundbreaking change in how we interact with the browser

HTML5 is a draft specification for the next major iteration of HTML. It represents a break from its predecessors, HTML4 and XHTML. Some elements have been removed and it is no longer based on SGML, an older standard for document markup. HTML5 also has more allowances for incorrect syntax than were present in HTML4. It has rules for parsing to allow different browsers to display the same incorrectly formatted document in the same fashion. There are many notable additions to HTML, such as native drawing support and audiovisual elements. In this chapter, we discuss the features added by HTML5 and the associated JavaScript APIs.

Beyond Basic HTML
HTML (Hypertext Markup Language), invented by Tim Berners-Lee, has come a long way since its inception in 1990. Figure 1-1 shows an abbreviated timeline of HTML from the HTML5Rocks slides (http://slides.html5rocks.com/#slide3).

Although all the advancements were critical in pushing standards forward, of particular interest to our pursuits is the introduction of JavaScript in 1996 and AJAX in 2005. Those additions transformed the Web from a medium that presented static unidirectional data, like a newspaper or book, to a bidirectional medium allowing communication in both directions.

JavaScript
JavaScript (née LiveScript and formally known as ECMAScript) started as a scripting language for the browser from Netscape Communications. It is a loosely typed scripting language that is prototype-based and can be object-oriented or functional. Despite the name, JavaScript is most similar to the C programming language, although it does inherit some aspects from Java.

Figure 1: HTML timeline

The language was renamed JavaScript as part of a marketing agreement between Sun Microsystems (now Oracle Corporation) and Netscape to promote the scripting language alongside Sun's Java applet technology. It became widely used for scripting client-side web pages, and Microsoft released a compatible version named JScript, with some additions and changes, because Sun held the trademark on the name "JavaScript."

AJAX
AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) started a new wave of interest in JavaScript programming. Once regarded as a toy for amateurs and script kiddies, AJAX helped developers solve more complex problems.

At the epicenter of AJAX is the XMLHttpRequest object invented by Microsoft in the late 1990s. XMLHttpRequest allows a website to connect to a remote server and receive structured data. As opposed to creating a set of static pages, a developer was empowered to create highly dynamic applications. Gmail, Twitter, and Facebook are examples of these types of applications.

We are currently in the midst of another JavaScript renaissance, as the major browser makers have been using the speed of their JavaScript engines as a benchmark for comparison. JavaScript as a primary programming language has found its way into server-side web components, such as Node.js, and mobile application frameworks, such as WebOS and PhoneGap.

Bridging the Divide
Even the best of standards takes a while to gain uptake. As a means to not let the lack of features limit innovation, Google created Chrome Frame and Google Gears (later, simply Gears) to bring advanced features to older browsers.

Google Gears
Google Gears, which was initially released in May 2007, has come to define some of the advanced features of the HTML5 draft specification. Before the advent of HTML5, many applications used Gears in some way, including Google properties (Gmail, YouTube, Doc, Reader, and so on), MySpace, Remember the Milk, and WordPress, among others. Gears is composed of several modules that add functionality more typical of desktop applications to the browser. Let's take a moment and talk about some of its features.

In its first release, Gears introduced the Database, LocalServer, and WorkerPool modules. Gears' Database API uses an SQLite-like syntax to create relational data storage for web applications. The data is localized to the specific application and complies with generalized cross-site scripting rules in that an application cannot access data outside its domain. The LocalServer module enables web applications to save and retrieve assets to a local cache even if an Internet connection is not present. The assets to serve from local cache are specified in a site manifest file. When an asset matching a URL in the manifest file is requested, the LocalServer module intercepts the request and serves it from the local store.

The WorkerPool module helps address one of the prevalent problems with JavaScript-intensive websites: long-running scripts that block website interaction. A website by default has a single thread to do its work. This is generally not a problem for very short, bursty actions (such as simple DOM manipulation) that return quickly. Any long-running task, such as file input/output or trying to retrieve assets from a slow server, can block interaction and convince the browser that the script is unresponsive and should be forcefully ended. The WorkerPool module brought the concept of multithreading computing to the browser by letting your WorkerPool create "workers" that can execute arbitrary JavaScript. Workers can send and receive messages to and from each other, provided they are in the same WorkerPool, so they can cooperate on tasks. Workers can work cross-origin but inherit the policy from where they are retrieved. To account for the fact that several properties such as Timer and HttpRequest are exposed by the window object, which is not accessible to workers, Gears provides its own implementations.

Another API of interest is the Geolocation API. The Geolocation API attempts to get a fix on a visitor by using available data such as the IP address, available Wi-Fi routers with a known location, cell towers, and other associated data.

Google ceased principal development of Gears in November 2009 and has since shifted focus to getting the features into HTML5. Thankfully, all these features we've discussed found their way into HTML5 in some shape or form.

Chrome Frame
Chrome Frame is a project that embeds Google Chrome as a plugin for Internet Explorer 6 and higher versions, which have weak HTML5 support. Chrome Frame is activated upon recognition of a meta tag. Chrome Frame currently does not require admin rights to be installed, thus opening opportunities on systems that are otherwise locked down. You can find more information about Chrome Frame at http://code.google.com/chrome/chromeframe/.

Getting Things Done with WebSockets and Web Workers
One of the additions to HTML5 is APIs that help the web application communicate and do work. WebSockets allow web applications to open a channel to interact with web services. Web Workers permit them to run nontrivial tasks without locking the browser.

WebSockets
WebSockets allow applications to have a bidirectional channel to a URI endpoint. Sockets can send and receive messages and respond to opening or closing a WebSocket. Although not part of the specification, two-way communication can be achieved in several other ways, including Comet (AJAX with long polling), Bayeux, and BOSH.

Listing 1 shows the code to create a WebSocket that talks to the echo server endpoint. After creating the socket, we set up the functions to be executed when the socket is opened, closed, receives a message, or throws an error. Next, a "Hello World!" message is sent, and the browser displays "Hello World!" upon receipt of the return message.

Listing 1: WebSocket Code for Echoing a Message

var socket = new WebSocket(ws://websockets.org:8787/echo);
socket.onopen = function(evt) {  console.log("Socket opened");} ;
socket.onclose = function(evt) { console.log("Socket closed");} ;
socket.onmessage = function(evt){ console.log(evt.data);} ;
socket.onerror = function(evt) { console.log("Error: "+evt.data);} ;

socket.send("Hello World!");

Web Workers
Web Workers are the HTML5 incarnation of WorkerPools in Google Gears. Unlike WorkerPools, we don't have to create a pool to house our Web Workers. Listing 2 shows the code to create a simple worker and set a function for it to execute upon receipt of a message. Listings 1-2 and 1-3 show the HTML code for creating a web page with a Web Worker that displays the current date and time on two-second intervals.

Listing 2: Web Page for Requesting the Time

<!DOCTYPE HTML>
<html>
<head>
<title>Web Worker example</title>
</head>
<body>
<p>The time is now: <span id="result" /></p>
<script>
var worker = new Worker('worker.js');
worker.onmessage = function (event) {
document.getElementById('result').innerText = event.data;
} ;
</script>
</body>
</html>

The associated JavaScript worker.js file is shown in Listing 3.

Listing 3: Worker.js File for Getting a Date and Time

setInterval(function() { w
postMessage(new Date());
} , 2000);

In the two listings, we see that workers can send messages using postMessage() and can listen for messages on the closure onmessage. We can also respond to errors and terminate workers by passing a function to onerror and executing terminate(), respectively.

Workers can be shared and send messages on MessagePorts. As with other aspects of the Web Worker spec, this portion is in a state of flux and somewhat outside the needs of the examples in this book. Therefore, using SharedWorkers is left as an exercise for the reader to investigate.

Application Cache
Application Cache provides a method of running applications while offline, much like the LocalServer feature in Gears. A point of distinction between the two features is that Application Cache doesn't use a JSON file, using a flat file instead to specify which files to cache. A simple manifest file to cache assets is shown in Listing 4.

Listing 4: Sample Application Manifest

CACHE MANIFEST
# above line is required, this line is a comment
mygame/game.html
mygame/images/image1.png
mygame/assets/sound2.ogg

The Application Cache has several events it can respond to: onchecking, error, cached, noupdate, progress, updateready, and obsolete. You can use these events to keep your users informed about the application's status. Using the Application Cache can make your game more tolerant to connectivity outages, and it can make your users happy by letting them start game play quicker (after the assets are cached). Also, if you choose, Application Cache can be used to allow users to play your game offline. Don't worry too much about it right now. In Chapter 11, "Publishing Your Games," we discuss using the Application Cache in more detail.

Database API
At present, there are multiple ways to store structured data using HTML5, including the WebSQL API implemented by Webkit browsers and the competing IndexedDB API spearheaded by Firefox.

WebSQL API
WebSQL provides structured data storage by implementing an SQL-like syntax. Currently, implementations have centralized around SQLite, but that isn't a specific requirement.

There isn't a "createDatabase" function in WebSQL. The function openDatabase optimistically creates a database with the given parameters if one doesn't already exist. To create a database name myDB, we would need to make a call in the form:

var db = openDatabase("myDB", "1.0", "myDB Database", 100000);

where we pass "myDB" as the name, assign the version "1.0", specify a display name of "myDB Database", and give it an estimated size of 100KB. We could have optionally specified a callback to be executed upon creation. Figure 2 shows the content of the Chrome Developer Tools Storage tab, after executing the preceding line of code.

Figure 2: Storage tab showing a created database

In the window to the right, we can run arbitrary SQL code, as shown in Figure 3, where we created a table, inserted some information, and ran a query.

Figure 3: Storage tab showing SQL statements

Although not universally supported, the specification does call out the existence of both asynchronous and synchronous database connections and transactions. Our current example creates an asynchronous connection; to create a synchronous one, we would call openDatabaseSync with the same parameters. After the initial connection, there is no distinction when it comes to database transactions besides calling transaction(...) for read/write transactions and readTransaction for read-only transactions.

A word of caution: Synchronous connections are not well supported and, in general, you should structure your code to run asynchronously.

IndexedDB API
IndexedDB stores objects directly in object stores. This makes it easier to implement JavaScript versions of NoSQL databases, like those of the object databases MongoDB, CouchDB, and SimpleDB. At the time of this writing, the implementations of the APIs weren't synchronized and used different naming schemes and strictness to the specification. The Internet Explorer implementation requires an ActiveX plugin. I encourage you to check out http://nparashuram.com/trialtool/index.html#example=/ttd/IndexedDB/all.html to see some examples in action on Firefox, Chrome, and Internet Explorer. The Chrome code in most cases will work seamlessly on Safari.

More Stories By James Williams

James Williams is an experienced developer and speaker who has given presentations all over the world on Java, user interfaces, and Google Wave. He is the creator of SwingXBuilder, a DSL for creating user interfaces using SwingX components, and a co-despot of Griffon, a framework to make rich applications using Groovy. James is based in the San Francisco Bay Area and you can follow his blog at http://jameswilliams.be/blog

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
The essence of data analysis involves setting up data pipelines that consist of several operations that are chained together – starting from data collection, data quality checks, data integration, data analysis and data visualization (including the setting up of interaction paths in that visualization). In our opinion, the challenges stem from the technology diversity at each stage of the data pipeline as well as the lack of process around the analysis.
What a difference a year makes. Organizations aren’t just talking about IoT possibilities, it is now baked into their core business strategy. With IoT, billions of devices generating data from different companies on different networks around the globe need to interact. From efficiency to better customer insights to completely new business models, IoT will turn traditional business models upside down. In the new customer-centric age, the key to success is delivering critical services and apps wit...
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo 2016 in New York and Silicon Valley. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place Nov 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 17th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty ...
Designing IoT applications is complex, but deploying them in a scalable fashion is even more complex. A scalable, API first IaaS cloud is a good start, but in order to understand the various components specific to deploying IoT applications, one needs to understand the architecture of these applications and figure out how to scale these components independently. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Nara Rajagopalan is CEO of Accelerite, will discuss the fundamental architecture of IoT applications, ...
The 19th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Containers, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit y...
In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Bruce Swann, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Adobe, will discuss how the Adobe Marketing Cloud can help marketers embrace opportunities for personalized, relevant and real-time customer engagement across offline (direct mail, point of sale, call center) and digital (email, website, SMS, mobile apps, social networks, connected objects). Bruce Swann has more than 15 years of experience working with digital marketing disciplines like web analytics, social med...
There are several IoTs: the Industrial Internet, Consumer Wearables, Wearables and Healthcare, Supply Chains, and the movement toward Smart Grids, Cities, Regions, and Nations. There are competing communications standards every step of the way, a bewildering array of sensors and devices, and an entire world of competing data analytics platforms. To some this appears to be chaos. In this power panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists will discuss the vast to...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with the 19th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world and ThingsExpo New York Call for Papers is now open.
As cloud and storage projections continue to rise, the number of organizations moving to the cloud is escalating and it is clear cloud storage is here to stay. However, is it secure? Data is the lifeblood for government entities, countries, cloud service providers and enterprises alike and losing or exposing that data can have disastrous results. There are new concepts for data storage on the horizon that will deliver secure solutions for storing and moving sensitive data around the world. ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Enzu, a leading provider of cloud hosting solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Enzu’s mission is to be the leading provider of enterprise cloud solutions worldwide. Enzu enables online businesses to use its IT infrastructure to their competitive advantage. By offering a suite of proven hosting and management services, Enzu wants companies to foc...
SYS-CON Events announced today the How to Create Angular 2 Clients for the Cloud Workshop, being held June 7, 2016, in conjunction with 18th Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Angular 2 is a complete re-write of the popular framework AngularJS. Programming in Angular 2 is greatly simplified. Now it’s a component-based well-performing framework. The immersive one-day workshop led by Yakov Fain, a Java Champion and a co-founder of the IT consultancy Farata Systems and...
Customer experience has become a competitive differentiator for companies, and it’s imperative that brands seamlessly connect the customer journey across all platforms. With the continued explosion of IoT, join us for a look at how to build a winning digital foundation in the connected era – today and in the future. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Nguyen, Group Product Marketing Manager at Adobe, will discuss how to successfully leverage mobile, rapidly deploy content, capture real-time d...
IoT generates lots of temporal data. But how do you unlock its value? How do you coordinate the diverse moving parts that must come together when developing your IoT product? What are the key challenges addressed by Data as a Service? How does cloud computing underlie and connect the notions of Digital and DevOps What is the impact of the API economy? What is the business imperative for Cognitive Computing? Get all these questions and hundreds more like them answered at the 18th Cloud Expo...
In his keynote at 18th Cloud Expo, Andrew Keys, Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise, will provide an overview of the evolution of the Internet and the Database and the future of their combination – the Blockchain. Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that ContentMX, the marketing technology and services company with a singular mission to increase engagement and drive more conversations for enterprise, channel and SMB technology marketers, has been named “Sponsor & Exhibitor Lounge Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York. “CloudExpo is a great opportunity to start a conversation with new prospects, but what happens after the...
SYS-CON Events announced today that 24Notion has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York, New York. 24Notion is full-service global creative digital marketing, technology and lifestyle agency that combines strategic ideas with customized tactical execution. With a broad understand of the art of traditional marketing, new media, communications and social influence, 24Notion uniquely understands how to con...
The demand for organizations to expand their infrastructure to multiple IT environments like the cloud, on-premise, mobile, bring your own device (BYOD) and the Internet of Things (IoT) continues to grow. As this hybrid infrastructure increases, the challenge to monitor the security of these systems increases in volume and complexity. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Stephen Coty, Chief Security Evangelist at Alert Logic, will show how properly configured and managed security architecture can...
When it comes to IoT in the enterprise, namely the commercial building and hospitality markets, a benefit not getting the attention it deserves is energy efficiency, and IoT's direct impact on a cleaner, greener environment when installed in smart buildings. Until now clean technology was offered piecemeal and led with point solutions that require significant systems integration to orchestrate and deploy. There didn't exist a 'top down' approach that can manage and monitor the way a Smart Buildi...
SYS-CON Events announced today BZ Media LLC has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. BZ Media LLC is a high-tech media company that produces technical conferences and expositions, and publishes a magazine, newsletters and websites in the software development, SharePoint, mobile development and Commercial Drone markets.
WebRTC is bringing significant change to the communications landscape that will bridge the worlds of web and telephony, making the Internet the new standard for communications. Cloud9 took the road less traveled and used WebRTC to create a downloadable enterprise-grade communications platform that is changing the communication dynamic in the financial sector. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Leo Papadopoulos, CTO of Cloud9, will discuss the importance of WebRTC and how it enables companies to fo...