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W3C TAG advice to the RICG

From: matmarquis.com <mat@matmarquis.com>
Date: Mon, 23 Sep 2013 12:59:46 -0400
Message-Id: <B63A5FD9-B039-41CD-8084-EE8D19E6000B@matmarquis.com>
To: www-tag@w3.org
W3C TAG,

Speaking on behalf of the RICG, I wanted to thank you all for your advice. We’ve taken some proactive steps since Marcos sent over your write-up:

> 1. The TAG recommends that the RICG continue to formalize and popularize
> polyfills that meet their use cases, like  
> [Picturefill](https://github.com/scottjehl/picturefill) (and not wait for browser  
> makers to implement their specification). Reaching critical mass with polyfills
> should help convince browser makers that a solution should indeed be standardized  
> for the benefit of end-users, even if it takes a few more years.

Fortunately for us, this one is self-sustaining: Scott Jehl’s Picturefill has proved to be hugely—and increasingly—popular. The project has over three hundred and fifty forks, and is being added to the Drupal 8 core. Exciting stuff!

> 2. The TAG recommends that the RICG discourage developers from directly using
> the `<picture>` element or `srcset` on the Web before the solution is
> standardized and widely available in browsers. This is to avoid conflicts. If
> browsers do end up exposing srcset, they should only do so behind a user
> settable flag until there is wide consensus that that is the right solution for
> the Web platform.

We’ve definitely been doing so—we’ve been careful not to position Picturefill as a “prollyfill,” while there is a branch of the project that functions as such (strictly for academic purposes). Instead, we’ve been actively encouraging developers to make use of the `picture` _pattern_ by using the branch of Picturefill that uses `div`s and data attributes to mimic the markup pattern.

> 3. The TAG recommends polyfilling a solution based on Web Components and
> encourages the RICG to reach out to high profile polyfill implementations (e.g.,
> x-tags and polymer) to have their solution integrated into those libraries. This
> should assist with the proliferation of responsive images solutions in the
> medium term.

We had a few false starts while getting the hang of Polymer/X-Tags, but the team from National Geographic has allowed us to adopt their X-Picture project as the official RICG solution: https://github.com/ResponsiveImagesCG/x-picture

It’s a project with a great deal of thought and active development behind it already, and now that we’ve pulled it into the RICG “family” we’ll be able to get a lot more eyes on the code.

> 4. Given 1 and 3, the RICG should continue to monitor usage of the solutions in
> the wild and continue to refine their specification based on that.
> Experimentation is critical to the refinement of a solution (see
> http://extensiblewebmanifesto.org/).

We’ve been doing our best to monitor usage of `picture`-like patterns in the wild, using data from webdevdata.org. I’d love to find a better way of measuring the way the developer community is “trending,” as webdevdata.org generally pulls from the Alexia top 10,000 sites, the vast majority of which are non-responsive. We’re actively searching for a better way to quantify the popularity of the `picture` pattern—as I’m sure you all know well, standards discussions live and die by hard data.

I want to thank you guys again for your help, and we’re excited to see where things are headed with the X-Picture project! I’d love to discuss our ongoing progress with you all.

Sincerely,
Mat Marquis
Received on Monday, 23 September 2013 16:58:02 UTC

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