Apple, Google, Microsoft and Mozilla aim for a more cohesive web

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Apple is working with browser developers Google, Microsoft, and Mozilla to make web design technologies more consistent regardless of which browser a user relies on.

When is a standard not a standard?

The problem is that some browsers handle web technologies in different ways. This could give rise to the adage: “When is a standard not a standard?” When it’s a web standard.

But when it comes to developers, especially enterprise developers trying to create consistent web interfaces across platforms, products, and browsers, it becomes a painful sticking point. It seems browser developers have a growing understanding of this, hence the new group.

The goal of the Interop 2022 alliance is to determine how web standards are implemented by these different vendors. It follows similar work that took place as part of the Compat 2021 consortium.

The latter has achieved some success: “The progress we’ve made collectively in 2021 has been incredible, and with greater vendor participation and an even wider range of interoperability areas to address, we look forward to seeing how far we’ve come. ‘where the web platform will evolve this year,” wrote Daniel Libby, Microsoft Edge Senior Software Engineering Manager.

What is Interop 22?

The goal of the project is to try to ensure that web applications based on these standards work and look the same across the dynamic forest of different devices, platforms and operating systems. Hopefully, one day web developers can be sure that the experiences they deliver are consistent for all users.

“The hope is that we can move towards a future in which we know how to make these domains interoperable, update the relevant web standards for them, and measure them with tests like we do with priority domains,” said Mozilla.

Interop 2022 tests 15 web platform specifications and three features that are not yet fully developed. What’s tested includes cascading layers, color spaces, CSS color functions, scrolling and more. Improvements in all of these areas will likely be welcomed by developers, users, and platform operators.

You can view the current results here and view the testing dashboard here.

Why Interop 2022?

Simply put, it only looks at user experience/design, rather than peering deeper into browser code. This means that browser developers don’t need to unlock access to core features to competitors, which they almost certainly prefer not to do.

Interestingly, this attempt emerges as a group of web developers have come together to complain about the limitations of WebKit in iOS development. Specifically, they complain that developers of other browsers have to use WebKit, rather than their own technology. Industry watchers point out that Apple is unlikely to approve this request, not only because it could accentuate Safari’s limitations, but also because it could affect hardware performance, security and lifespan. drums.

This may or may not be relevant to Apple’s involvement in Interop 22, but anything that allows different browsers to work more consistently probably helps mitigate criticism.

What Apple said

Writing on the WebKit page, Apple Evangelist for Web Developer Experiences Jen Simmons said:

“All of these technologies are important to Apple and to everyone working on WebKit. We care deeply about the health of the web and interoperable implementations of web standards. We welcome working with our colleagues at the many web standards organizations and Interop 2022 to make the web as interoperable as possible. Because that’s how websites and web apps will work best for the people who matter most – the everyday people who use the web to live their lives.

Critics of the company will note that Apple hasn’t accelerated the implementation of certain web APIs that could help developers build web apps to compete with native iOS apps. Apple isn’t the only one lagging behind in implementing certain standards, of course – Google has also stumbled, particularly when it comes to privacy.

All the same, it looks promising that major browser developers are discovering that the jaw is beating war on war. Perhaps we would all have benefited from learning this lesson more thoroughly in school.

In related news, Apple has also released Safari Technology Preview 141. It includes a range of enhancements including Web Inspector enhancements, web animation fixes, CSS fixes and new behaviors, and JavaScript improvements , WebAuthn and more.

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Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

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