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September 19, 2008

The Future of Browsers

Ben Galbraith and Dion Almair from Ajaxian are moderating a conversation at NYC Web 2.0 Expo about the future of browsers.

Participants in the panel are:
Ojen - Google Chrome
Brendan - Mozilla Foundation
Chris Wilson - platform architect on Internet Explorer

What is in, and is planed, for HTML5 in the browsers?
Brendan - HTML5 is big, are actively working things into the browser.
Ojen - Credit goes to WebKit. So far Chrome didn't want to do anything with changes.
Chris - A little bit of HTML5 is in IE8, but there are some issues with the working group and making modularization a little better.

How does Mozilla keep up with big budgets like Microsoft and Google?
Brendan - advantages of being open because you get better partnering and participation.

How dead is SVG?
Brendan - it isn't dead, but did get stuck in the "rewriting the web in XML" thing. Webkit has support, Mozilla has it. Have to think of canvas vs. SVG and how it is useful.
Chris - need to focus on both SVG and canvas, shouldn't write one of them off
Ojen - remember that Ajax technology was in IE for a long time without being used

Will Firebug ever allow me to export all of the CSS?
Brendan - We are investing a lot in Firebug, so the answer is yes.
Chris - IE8 beta2 has a lot of polished tools like profiling, it is really important that all browsers have something to let the developer
Ojen - Chrome has a WebKit inspector, and the Webkit debugger tools are very good

How far is the browser away from being the OS?
Ojen - It's apples and oranges, they are two totally different things. Not clear what it means to say Chrome is competing for Windows, because the browser has to have the OS. Font rendering is an example. There are more things that could be moved into the browser, like digital sync from a camera, but the browser is not the OS.
Brendan - you see a lot a lot more people building their applications for the web, using the tools there instead of focusing on the OS-level

The choice of browsers is hell, having chrome introduced was freightening to add in to the mix with all of the other browsers I have to test. What are you doing about it?
Chris - important that the browsers all have good test suite so before release they know it meets certain criteria

How will Google Chrome better my browser experience because they know a lot about me?
Ojen - for now, address bar pings Google suggest, will be more but are sensitive to storing/sharing too much information

What kinds of add-ons will be allowed in Chrome?
Ojen - want to try really hard to learn from IE and Firefox about instabilities. Greasemonkey founder works on Chrome team
Brendan - get better isolation techniques
Chris - add-ons have been in IE for a long time, can be challenging to write because they have to be a COM object.

Are you going to support geolocation in the browser?
Chris - it won't be difficult to support once they figure out the issue with prompting the user to let their location be used by the site.

Is the IE browser for mobile going to get better?
Chris - Not on the mobile team so can't comment, but it is critical to get the browser to work consistently

Support for IE on Mac?
Chris - not a current plan, if the need is Sharepoint it's a question for the Sharepoint team, not something that would come from IE

Browsers on gaming console?
Brendan - Gecko has been ported, these days the consoles are so much like PCs it isn't a big issue
Chris - the real challenge is the different in user experience, not the technology

Will browsers have open source codecs for playing music?
Brendan - the ogg formats have been built into Mozilla, they aren't common formats but they are open source
Chris - the issue with ogg is that it isn't clear just how open source it is, if you launch and support it there might be tangential (submarine) patents that arise

Posted by mike at September 19, 2008 11:04 AM