Thursday, May 6th, 2010

Web 2.0 Expo Browser Panel

Category: Editorial

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of moderating a panel at Web 2.0 Expo on the future of browsers with Ben.

On the panel were distinguished gents. In the photo (courtesy of TechCrunch) you see (sitting from left to right): Alex Russell (Google), Brendan Eich (Mozilla), Charles McCathieNevile (Opera Software), Giorgio Sardo (Microsoft Corporation), and Douglas Crockford (Yahoo! Inc.).

TechCrunch has a detailed post on the Q&A, and then also dives into one question, responding to Joe Hewitt‘s Tweets from last week on the Web platform.

I think that Alex Russell responded fantastically. He has been a developer, dealing with the ugly underbelly of the browsers (and old ones). He is fighting to make a difference with Chrome Frame among other things. The Web has a long way to go. The last thing we want is for it to become the ghetto which Steve Jobs wants. In an ideal world, “apps” would be premium real estate, and the long tail of crud lives in the Web ghetto.

Chris Anderson scared me a little on this topic in a keynote he gave at the MarkLogic conference yesterday. He talked about having the Web be a way to engage with community and tease them into the premium options. Maybe a few free Wired articles here and there, but get the “App” for the real deal. People are used to purchasing apps, and he thinks that he can technically do more on app platforms.

However, it doesn’t have to be that way. Scribd is going HTML5 and the screenshots of their new code looks great:

As a community we need to come together again and show the world that we can deliver amazing experiences, that the Web can be THE platform (and has a role in the world of apps….) and engage with browser vendors and standards to push the Web faster. We can do it.

One other topic of conversation from the panel was IE9 and Canvas. I asked the crowd who would like to see canvas supported in IE9 (didn’t show up in yesterdays preview). 80% of the crowd put their hands up, and I am sure the other 20% just didn’t get them up in time ;) Giorgio of Microsoft himself put his hand up, which was nice. The strange comment from him was that the canvas spec is “big” which was refuted by Brendan. Microsoft has implemented SVG support which is massive in comparison, and I am sure they could wire together canvas API calls to the underlying 2d engine ;)

I would love to hear a reason from Microsoft on why they are not supporting canvas. They may have a valid reason, but I haven’t heard it yet. Dean has been open to communicating on HTML5 video on his blog, so maybe you could answer this one mate? It could be that they just haven’t gotten around to it yet and it will show up in a new preview. Let me know and I will shut the hell up.

It is fantastic that Microsoft is being more open. Giorgio showed up at the panel yesterday. Dean is blogging. Compare that to the Safari team. I would *love* to have those guys speaking…. Dave Hyatt, Maciej, etc are all amazing…. but that isn’t the Apple Way. Thanks for sitting at the table Microsoft….. and I hope it continues.

Posted by Dion Almaer at 10:39 am

4 rating from 1 votes


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Sounds like great news, is a video captured and will it be online to watch?

Comment by gossi — May 6, 2010

Where do you get the impression that Apple or Steve Jobs wants the web to be ghetto?

Working with the tools that Apple supports (Webkit, CocoaTouch, Dashcode, RoR) I don’t get that impression at all.

Comment by Jolo — May 6, 2010

Do you really think that canvas is the great and first thing to talk about? Developers are going to make really awesome particules systems, fireworks, and all sorts of absolutely incredible sound animations, with finally no interest. Graphists who are the only people with artistic background and real added value in the domain would never use a programming language to draw things on a screen.
Why not talking about video? Why not talking about interface? Why not talking about security?

Comment by p4 — May 6, 2010


I do not think that canvas is the be all. I *do* feel like it is well standardized and in every other browser. I want it in IE too so it can FINALLY be a first class citizen (better than excanvas).

To me it is an OBVIOUS feature for IE to add.


I have heard folks talking about just that. Using HTML/JS/CSS in apps is great, but he clearly thinks that “native apps” are the future. The Web is a VM after all. Just my opinion :)

Comment by Dion Almaer — May 6, 2010

@Dion – I think Apple have clearly invested in HTML5 and continue to do so, even on their most closed platform. Even the new iAds are HTML5.

The distinction that I think Apple makes for the web is security. One of the greatest things about the web is the ability to run code securely without having to give permission. On the other side of the fence, native apps with the ability to do serious damage go through them.

Now I’m not saying that there isn’t more to it. Obviously there’s money, and that plays a huge role. I just think that’s going to be the dividing line. I think they will make the web experience as good as it can be as long as there is no way for a web app to break your computer. It fits with the “can my grandmother do it” mentality they are going for.

Comment by genericallyloud — May 6, 2010

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