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Re: [manifest] Utility of bookmarking to home screen, was V1 ready for wider review

From: Marcos Caceres <w3c@marcosc.com>
Date: Sat, 15 Feb 2014 13:56:28 +0000
To: Alex Russell <slightlyoff@google.com>
Cc: Jonas Sicking <jonas@sicking.cc>, Marcos Caceres <marcos@marcosc.com>, WG Webapps <public-webapps@w3.org>, Kenneth Rohde Christiansen <kenneth.r.christiansen@intel.com>, Kostiainen, Anssi <anssi.kostiainen@intel.com>
Message-ID: <251744A91689411D94135177108D686C@marcosc.com>
tl;dr: I strongly agree (and data below shows) that installable web apps without offline capabilities are essentially useless. 

Things currently specified in the manifest are supposed to help make these apps less useless (as I said in the original email, they by no means give us "the dream" of installable web apps, just one little step closer) - even if we had SW tomorrow, we would still need orientation, display mode, start URL, etc. 

So yes, SW and manifest will converge... questions for us to decide on is when? And if appcache can see us through this transitional period to having SW support in browsers? I believe we can initially standardize a limited set of functionality, while we continue to wait for SW to come into fruition which could take another year or two.  

On Saturday, February 15, 2014 at 1:37 AM, Alex Russell wrote:

> I further think that the marginal utility in bookmarking something to the homescreen (sorry, yes, I'm focusing on mobile first) is low if it doesn't have a Service Worker / Appcache associated.

Although I've not published this research yet, this is strongly backed by evidence. Nearly all applications in the top 78,000 websites that opt. into being standalone applications via "apple-mobile-web-app-capable" do not, in fact, work as standalone applications. If anyone is interested to try this for themselves, here is the raw dataset listing all the sites [1] - you will need an iPhone to test them. The data set is from Oct. 2013, but should still be relevant. Just pick some at random and "add to homescreen"; it makes for depressing viewing. 

There are a few exceptions (listed below) - but those are the exceptions, not the rule. 
> It's strictly second-class-citizen territory to have "web bookmarks" that routinely don't do anything meaningful when offline.

Yes, but there are a number of factors that contribute to this: not just offline (e.g., flexbox support is still fairly limited, dev tools still suck, cross-browser is a nightmare, even how navigation works differs across UAs!, limited orientation-locking support, etc.). 

However, to your point the data we have shows that about 50 sites in the top 78K declare an appcache [2], while there are 1163 sites that declare "apple-mobile-web-app-capable". So yeah, appcache, as we all know, is a bit of a failure. Some of the sites that declare it actually have it commented out... like they tried it and just gave up. 

Interestingly, only 10 sites in the dataset are both capable of running standalone AND declare offline:

1. forecast.io
2. timer-tab.com
3. capitalone.com
4. rachaelrayshow.com
5. delicious.com
6. forbesmiddleeast.com
7. shopfato.com.br
8. ptable.com
9 authenticjobs.com

10. swedenabroad.com

So, yeah... 10 / 1163 = 0.0085... or, :_(. 

Anyway... do you think it's ok for us to just standardize the limited things in the manifest? We could have those at LC like in 2 weeks and then spin up V2 to have convergence with SW. Better still, the SW spec can just specify how it wants to work with manifests. 

[1] https://gist.github.com/marcoscaceres/7419589
[2] https://gist.github.com/marcoscaceres/9018819
Marcos Caceres
Received on Saturday, 15 February 2014 13:57:00 UTC

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