Don Melton on Debug 69

I was hoping we’d hear from Don Melton on the idea that Safari is the new IE and he didn’t disappoint. For those that don’t know Don is the man that started the WebKit and Safari projects at Apple. He’s also a former Netscape developer so he’s been around the web and web browsers for a very long time. If you have some time go listen to Debug 69, it’s a bit explicit, Don like to drop the F-bomb, but it’s also very informative.

Two things stood out about how the Safari team approaches development of new things. They really care about security and battery life, since mobile is now king. It’s apparent they introduce features quite a bit more slowly than Google. That fact goes a long way to explaining why Google forked WebKit to create the Blink project. They wanted to move faster and felt held back by Apple’s WebKit team.

UPDATE: 7/25/2015 – I sent a link to Mr. Melton via Twitter and he graciously took the time to come read this post, which I really appreciate. Afterward he provided some excellent feedback. Here’s a correction to the statement above:

Something I’ve been an advocate for is the implementation of the ECMA CLI in all web browsers. It was interesting to hear Don talk about the idea of Web Assembly, which is the new push to make languages that convert down to JavaScript so you can write in multiple languages on the web (which is why I’m a fan of a CLI implementation, we could have C# on in the browser, nifty.) Don’s take made me reevaluate my position. Why not let websites be websites and let applications be applications? Both need HTTP and the web. I’m a fan of web services and that is definitely the new backbone of any application development today. A lot of applications, be it in the browser, or native, depend on web services to do their job. The application I work on daily is no exception. At Agrian we have a web application and a native iOS App backed by a web service. The native application was created because Agrian wanted to create the best user experience they possibly could, not to mention provide a great offline experience. Our application is used by farmers that are often out in the country side, and often without connectivity. Changes are cached and synchronized when the farmer has a connection. It provides a good experience all thanks to the ability to save while offline and push changes to our web service when the time is right. Wow, sorry, went off the rails there.

The point is, I’m not sure making the web browser do everything you can do on the desktop is the right thing to do. Let the web be the web. If you want to do a native application embrace the platform and do the best possible job you can for your users. This holds true for Android or iOS. Both provide great SDK’s built to take full advantage of the platform.

Go forth and create.

Apple Google

Is Safari the new IE?

Duct Tape, fixer of all things!Nolan Lawson: “It’s tempting to interpret this as a deliberate effort by Apple to sabotage any threats to their App Store business model, but a conspiracy seems unlikely, since that part of the business mostly breaks even. Another possibility is that they’re just responding to the demands of iOS developers, which largely amount to 1) more native APIs and 2) Swift, Swift, Swift. But since Apple is pretty good at keeping a lid on their internal process, it’s anyone’s guess.”

The web is ever changing and evolving as is the mobile development community. Here we have a web developer that’s dying to take advantage of new technologies but is stymied by Apple’s lack of support for a set of open standards. Do I think this is deliberate on Apple’s part? Well, yes and no, but I don’t think it’s malicious. I think it’s a matter of priorities.

Compare and contrast Apple and Google. Apple is about creating and selling hardware with the best user experience it can possibly provide. That means investing in the native experience. On the other hand we have Google who is all about the web and web technologies. They spend their time investing in the web. It makes complete sense for both companies to invest in the thing they believe in. It’s part of their DNA. They can’t help but do what’s right for their respective platforms.

It is interesting to note Google forked WebKit into Blink a couple years back. You gotta wonder if Google believed Apple was moving too slowly when it came to standards adoption. It seems a reasonable conclusion.

I’d love to hear from Don Melton on the subject. Don was the guy that started the Safari and WebKit projects at Apple. He would know better than anyone why Apple is doing what they’re doing. Having worked on some large projects in my past life I feel pretty confident in saying it’s a matter of company priorities. Pretty simple really. You have to put resources where it makes sense for your company.

Apple will come around. They have to. The web will eventually mature to the point that it can compete with native applications. When that happens the browser will have to become the new operating system.