W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-tag@w3.org > July 2014

Food for thought (resurfacing)

From: Marc Fawzi <marc.fawzi@gmail.com>
Date: Fri, 11 Jul 2014 15:07:39 -0700
Message-ID: <CACioZiuihDxLutAvsU4-5rebJvBXMmbLdy-Tp8YfuquB95Fb+g@mail.gmail.com>
To: "www-tag@w3.org" <www-tag@w3.org>
I was told that it's OK to contribute.

Here is a contribution I would like to resurface in case it got lost in the
debate about the potential for manipulation of W3C standards by certain
browser vendors which has been a very agitating/frustrating debate to
watch, and I'm sure more so for those directly impacted by it.

What if the W3C moved away from being a club of major browser vendors whose
employees get to decide the future of the web and instead the W3C would get
the browser vendors to agree to running each other's browser engine in a
runtime-selectable manner inside their UX/UI shells (think Chrome on iOS,
which runs the same engine as Safari Mobile), so that in this way users of
the web get to pick the browser with the best UX for themselves while the
web developers who builds the apps can finally get to decide which singular
engine to run their apps on thus saving them (us developers) a ton of time
that's being wasted right now making the apps work cross-browser, which the
W3C has failed to do for us (maybe billions of dollars have been lost in
developer productivity as a result, but I'm not sure how much of an
exaggeration that is. I simply know that it takes me 2X the time and money
to develop something then make sure it runs Ok on all browsers than it does
when developing for just one browser...)

IE already allows the swapping of its own browser engines which is very
useful for debugging across the various versions of IE using just one
instance of the browser and OS.

It's not only about saving time/money for developers. It solves the whole
contentious issue of who primarily gets to drive web standards by allowing
every vendor who opts into this "running multiple 3rd party and own browser
engines under their own branded UX" scheme to do whatever they want
innovation wise without being held back by so-called web standards, which,
to be fair, have worked OK for their intended context, but not OK enough to
eliminate productivity losses incurred every day by developers.

So vendors can go on and innovate like wild fire without having to agree on
standards (I know Google will probably lead the pack, but so can Microsoft
and Apple, they all have great people and tens of billions of dollars in
the bank) And standards work doesn't have to stop either as it serves a
very useful purpose as "take it or leave it" spec that vendors can try out
and then embrace and extend, drop, or not even have to bother with (if they
don't like the spec after all is said and done)

What do you guys think? Why would this be a bad idea. I'm trying to
understand how things work because my life is directly impacted by
decisions made about web standards. I work with what the W3C produces on
daily basis, and while I can pick and choose what technology to embrace it
is really frustrating when I've finally built something (say 10,000 lines
of code) and then having to discover the discrepancies and short comings
between browsers and sometimes running into "Safari or IE can't do this"
whoops moments after much code has been written. For me to test everything
on every browser it means my flow would be interrupted and without flow
it's really hard to keep building something and so I tend to do the cross
browser stuff after I have something working, and on so many occasions the
vendors who were part of the spec making process fail to implement the spec
fully or religiously, leading to a ton of time wasted.

I'm repeating the same point over and over about productivity but I think
it would also be a shift in paradigm that could benefit the vendors in
terms of productivity and making progress, so it's not just about the
developers.

I've looked at projects like node-webkit, which supposedly uses Blink now,
and it may work as the rough basis for a browser that could have multiple
browser engines. I'm not well versed in this part but I suspect that if the
idea of browser vendors "running multiple 3rd party and own browser engines
under their own branded UX" is plausible then someone well versed in this
area could develop a prototype.

You may think it has nothing to do with the W3C, but that would be very
dismissive; it could change the very premise on which the W3C is built
upon, moving it from a consensus reaching organization to a suggestion
making organization, and letting both vendors and developers have the
freedom to make their own optimized choices.

Thanks for reading this far, and I hope it has some value, at least
intellectually, something to think about... as I don't think the W3C the
way it is can last indefinitely, without losing influence, especially as
browser vendors diverge in their interests/opinions as the browser
technology becomes ever more complex.

Marc
Received on Friday, 11 July 2014 22:08:47 UTC

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