State of The Browser 2012

Yesterday I got up early and headed down to London for State of The Browser 2012. The event was really great and I thought I would just summarise some of the thoughts from the main talks here.

Web vs Native: it ain’t over ’til it’s over

Michael Mahemoff (@mahemoff)

Michael gave a great talk about how native apps still dominate their HTML5 counterparts. Despite the great work being done by some browser vendors to open up more native services to HTML5 apps (Chrome Canary now has a Battery API) web is still way behind native and that is limiting the scope of what web developers can achieve.

The talk also focused on the challenges surrounding UI, offline and background processing that arise when building HTML5 apps. These issues need to be resolved quickly if HTML5 is going to be a real competitor to native apps.

The slides can be found here:

No App is an Island

Paul Kinlan (@paulkinlan)_

Paul’s presentation ran with the theme that web apps should be able to talk to each other without the need for developers to write loads of code. This follows on from the work that Paul is doing on Web Intents.

Android developers don’t have to worry about creating integrations to share content, they simply fire a share intent and the OS takes care of the rest. Browsers should be doing this and later on in the Q&A all of the other browser representatives admitted that they recognize this as a problem and are working on solutions.

I personally follow Paul’s vision of an interconnected app ecosystem and really hope that Web Intents (or an equivalent) makes it’s way into browsers soon.

The Web as it Should Be

Martin Beeby (@thebeebs)

Unfortunately Martin’s presentation was plagued with all sorts of technical problems but hats off to the guy as he still managed to power through. I was interested to see what Microsoft is doing in the web space so it was a shame the demos didn’t work.

Martin spoke about Microsoft’s vision for the web and how they are pulling web technologies into the development environment of native app developers in Windows 8. This means that web developers will be able to use their existing skills in HTML, CSS and JS to create ‘native’ apps for Windows 8. The Microsoft engineers have created a JavaScript library for interacting with native APIs, which is awesome! I think Google are working on something similar for Android.

Overall the fact that Microsoft seem to have stepped up their game within the web space is very encouraging. But sorry folks, still no plans for WebGL 🙁

Broken HTML5 Promises – Are we ‘appy?

Chris Heilmann (@codepo8)

Chris’ talk focussed on were HTML5 is today and what we have got left to do in order to really give native apps a run for their money. He spoke about his experiences at the recent Mobile Web Congress in Barcelona and how many of the execs he spoke to were more concerned about getting short term wins than building meaningful apps.

It’s sometimes easy to forget that there is still a lot of work to be done on HTML5 and a lot of this work is convincing decision makers in businesses that HTML5 is a viable option when it comes to building apps.

Chris also mentioned the Boot to Gecko project were Mozilla are creating a phone OS that consists of a browser running directly on top of a Linux kernel (+ drivers of course). I hadn’t heard about this before but it looks really awesome, I can’t wait to get my hands on a demo device.


All round it was a rather good day out. I’m interested to see what will be happening with web technologies in Windows 8 going forward and how the web vs native battle will play out over the next year or so.

%d bloggers like this: