Notes from State of the Browser

Notes/live blog from The State of the Browser – unedited!

Web vs. Native – @mahemoff

“Will apps kill websites” – this month

  • Facebook 2011 backing HTML5, whilst investing in native apps - instagram
  • Instagram has no website (yet uses the web)
  • Platforms, apps or otherwise, still using web infrastructure – via RESTful services
  • Web – dev experience – boils down to view source + browser => already going
  • UI capabilities still suck on the web – doing it consistently, with smooth effects is HARDDDD
  • Offline doesn’t matter so much?
  • Dev experience can be tricky for developers – maybe not the smoothest or more compatible tech. ie. the localStorage “issue”.
  • Device integration is lacking – but will specs like WebRT solve this? Will Google resist these kinds of specs – why aren’t they leading this or is there a politic play whereby Chrome Book doesn’t require “apps”?

Were WebApps are lacking

  • Single sign is hard
  • Intention
  • Device access
  • Background processing…native apps are able to proactively schedule task in the background – web doesn’t have this at all yet (WebRT/thing?). Notifications / geo-fencing(?) / syncing. Background seems like one of the worst/highest level of requirements we need to compete web vs. native

The Challenge – what we need to do

  • Advisory, like html5ple.se and some guidance – it’s kinda like the 90s again where there was a fuck load of JS libraries. Native has one way on the web, we have many ways and polyfills to get around issues.
  • Web Apps should have support from the browser for single sign on – is this WebID (was BrowserID), etc?
  • Developers need to contribute to “moving the web forward” – speak to the browser vendors. But isn’t part of the problem “Fucking Apple”, they don’t talk to anyone – nor do they release at any reasonable rate so developers
  • Think about how web vs. native – web should remember your log in, application state – it shouldn’t appear to boot from scratch each time, but this is where we should be using localStorage, and back doesn’t destroy state!!! Ajax + history api.

Questions

  • Is the point: browsers don’t matter – the web does…?
  • Should the browser just be the webview?
  • “You’re not on a fucking plane” – but then do all devs know how to build apps like gmail where it’s insanely quick because they know how to work the mobile device?
  • AppCache is not a replicatement for localStorage – far from it.
  • Is there a larger problem that the browser (and a pro) exposes data if the user wants to get to it. It makes SSO harder because of security, etc?
  • Web vs. Native seems like two issues: browser and the web. Browsers being the limitation.

No app is an island – @paul_kinlan

Overview of some technology in browsers – “we’re moving faster than ever before”.

  • CSS regions – makes print designers super happy – in that the reflow is correct.
  • CSS filters – take that Instagram – using same technology as WebGL under the hood?
  • Web Components – shadow DOM is the “component code”. Web Components do look really interesting because we’ve been re-writing components all the flipping time, but it seems to boil down to
  • WebRTC – gives us the stream (though gUM is part of it), allows us to use a stream of video data (though god knows what format it’s in if we wanted to capture it…).
  • And a fuck load more APIs: Gamepad API, battery, pointer lock, etc.

To the point: “tunnels and bridges”…All tunnel creation is bespoke (IRL), in that working across the web with things like oAuth is hard, and could well go horribly wrong.

Bridges are different: common patterns are part of the process.

Future of web app dev – is “client to client” – “bridging”.

Intents

  • No oAuth – because you’re handing over?
  • Integrating the “top 5″ APIs is hard, because a) they’re all fucking different, and b) what about when they shutdown (delicious), c) what about when you don’t integrate the users’ favourite service?
  • Intents offers your list of services for the intent, user selects the service, and the service then returns the content in an open way - without the developer having to support all these services.
  • Intent lets me send and receive => communication.
  • Proposing an <intent> tag
  • The content-type on the params determine the response kind, example: var params = { type: 'video/mp4', data: blob, transfer: [blob] };
  • You can also establish communication channels (like P2P?) using Channel API and using ports.
  • Can play today, Paul has written a polyfill with decent x-browser support (IE8 upwards).

Questions

  • What about defaults? Chicken and egg – the user is new, do you offer default services? Is this even a problem?
  • How do services register their action handlers?
  • Really not keen on the action="http://webintents.org/share" – why the dependency?
  • Doesn’t the startActivity/postResponse assume a persistent page or new tab or even background services? // No – it appears as just a popup, whilst my current page remains open.
  • Are other browsers implementing Intents? Equally is Google starting to introduce it in their own apps, Google Drive for instance.

The web as it should be – @thebeebs

  • Text Shadows weren’t fast enough for IE9 – the GPU was used for fonts, but the shadows were poorly performing (and equally on canvas – super poor performance even though it’s all hw accel).
  • First half of talk: IE sucks – yep – MS know it. IE9 is supposed to be the new flagship. Honestly, still lacking, but IE10 is a good second step.
  • 8 week launch cycles with previews. 12 weeks with IE10.
  • Now collaborating (not more, but for a change).
  • IE10 moving to “smallest chrome” – what about “Chromeless”?
  • Ironically IE10 is touch, yet IE9 isn’t!!!
  • Working on and contributing the CSS grid specification – combination of row/column. Are other browsers picking this up?
  • IE10 is the delivery platform – within the browser and via the Metro application platform.
  • IE10 appcache, data storage, etc. Basically where it should be.
  • http://thebeebs.co.uk/prepare – compatibility indicator via a script include on your site – for debugging – things like userAgent sniffing, etc.

Questions

  • When is IE10 going to be available on mobile?
  • Once beyond the beta cycles, and in production ready, what about updates beyond that time? Do we have to wait another year?
  • Is win.js implementing the standards – like File IO – is that going to use the standards, rather than the old school WSH type API – that’s utterly bespoke to Windows? The advantage of PhoneGap is that it relies on a standard, so ultimately, one day in the future, you can pull PhoneGap out and it should work. Can I pull out win.js and move to another platform?
  • Touch – is this the standards based touch events?
  • Debugging tools?
  • Is IE10 the high street brand to the fashion industry? In that by the time IE10 comes out, Opera, FF and Chrome will be 12 months ahead. I guess this isn’t a problem – if IE supports “HTML5″ it means it’s serious business – I guess good for general web sites.
  • Seriously – why can’t I install IE10 on my Mac directly? Or Linux? Sure, Apple don’t port Safari to Linux, and the Windows port is pretty horrible, but they’re arseholes anyway. // Response: No, they’re developing for their platform – to be fair – Apple to do the same.

Broken HTML5 promises – are we ‘appy? – @codepo8

  • Apple is crippling the mobile browser. True, examples include WebGL, storage, audio, etc, etc, etc.
  • Christian is asked at Mobile Congress is mostly around how do I protect my code, how does it compare to HTML5 – UX & performance.
  • HTML5 has to be a marketing term – so it won’t ever be ready because it encompasses a mass of technology ranging from true HTML5 to CSS to Node.js!
  • Tooling is lacking. Dreamweaver type tools, but all the way to Final Cut type tools – i.e. to compose amazing interactive sites. Current offerings: html.adobe.com and Sencha Architech…
  • Christian successfully takes the piss out of @thebeebs and @mahemoff, who’s next?
  • DRM is important to real companies. They have to protect their content.
  • What about “native” performance? Zenga released a scroller library - and discussion said it works better if it was written for iOS only. Turned out that it was just the form value feedback that was slowing it down. (canvas scroller).
  • Re: HTML5 is ready – did we pull it off? No, there’s more questions than answers right now. Those answers are hard (but isn’t a lot of this for the browsers to answer for us as developers?).
  • Christian says we’re just keeping ourself busy with other things - like demoscene or abstractions or random arguments like the semi-colons (2nd reference – end on 3 pokes!). Why is Google and MS releasing demos the canvas demos, etc. (Surely they’re appealing to developers to get them on board).
  • Talking about browsers stats. Me: honestly, these global stats don’t matter, the client user stats matter.
  • Patents: even when we can simulate or re-create the effects but patents are killing innovation.

But “enough with the bitching”. Amen.

  • Mozilla is a fully open organisation.
  • “Kick ass” devtools. I hope he’s not referring to Firebug because I really don’t agree – the new devtools are a great step forward, but still way behind.
  • MDN being supported not just by Mozilla – by people like Paul Irish from other browser vendors. An excellent web resource for teaching.
  • More teaching from Mozilla and free access: mozparty, hack arcade, hackasourus, etc.
  • Gladius – open source (on github) Mozilla supported game platform (that won’t be bought by another company and open!).
  • C++ to JS conversion with Emscripten (WTF!?)
  • Are we mobile yet – a visualisation of current state of mobile support, with direct links to the bugs – so go shake a stick to get them fixed.
  • Contributing lots of new specifications: battery, camera, vibration, SMS sending – and all baked in to Boot 2 Gecko.
  • Christian demos a B2G which appears fast. My own copy is slow, but I suspect the hardware is a huge factor.
  • b2gbuilds.org for getting nightly builds. Nexus S, Galaxy SII and Galaxy Nexus flash image “coming soon”.
  • Lots of events being run in Mozilla’s open space – also open for drop in working.
  • Wants people to make things that work.

Questions

  • Why is UX coming up? Surely the OS should provide the UX for these elements, buttons, etc.

2 Responses to “Notes from State of the Browser”

  1. Remy, great notes. I posted some comments on your questions.
    http://softwareas.com/state-of-the-browser-2-web-vs-native

  2. [...] – but until then it’s probably worth reading the Twitter stream from the day or reading Remy Sharp’s notes (they’re pretty awesome). Steve (who provided the sketch notes in my recap from openMIC13) [...]

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