Through the peculiar dynamics of Web standard politics and the open-source programming cooperation, Microsoft is helping Google with support for a feature to let browsers flexibly handle input from touch screens, mice, and pens.
Monday, the Redmond-based company announced on the Blink mailing list that it's planning to write a version of its Pointer Events technology for Blink, the open-source browser engine project at the heart of Google's Chrome browser. The move came on the eve of Google I/O, the developer show where Chrome and Chrome OS share the developer spotlight with Android, Google+, Glass, and other technologies.
The interface, which uses the same approch as in Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8, already is built into Internet Explorer 10. The World Wide Web Consortium last week promoted the Pointer Evetnts specification to "candidate recommendation" status, an important step on the path to standardization.
Scott Blomquist, senior development lead for the Microsoft Open Technologies subsidiary, explained Microsoft's motivation for adding the support to Chrome:Microsoft already had built a test version of Pointer Events support for WebKit, the browser engine project from which Blink diverged earlier this year.
Pointer Events elegantly unifies the interface for different input technologies (mouse, touch, pen) thereby simplifying developer workload and code complexity. Furthermore, it automatically addresses common coding challenges for increasingly ubiquitous device types that allow multiple types of input at the same time. It provides a future-proof abstraction that will allow Pointer Events-enabled web pages to leverage any new input technologies with little if any modifications at all. The API is already supported by Internet Explorer.