Browser diversity

— 3 minute read

With Edge officially scrapping its own engine in favour of Chromium, the community has had a mixed response. That comes as no surprise as we tend to be polarised with these sort of things.

I have found some of the takes fascinating. These takes have been both reasonably positive and understandably wary. I am very much in the wary camp—even when there are clear positive opportunities, in the eyes of an optimist.

The main reason I am wary is that I have a lot of mistrust of Microsoft and Google even before this situation, so I’m naturally not going to embrace them being in close cahoots with each other. Not just this relationship, though because as others have articulated better than I ever can, there’s a huge worry about a lack of diversity with web browsers. Some will say “this is great because we can concentrate on other stuff, rather than browser bugs”, whereas others see the dangers of browser engine monopolisation. I do too and can’t believe some aren’t panicking after the Internet Explorer monopoly and subsequent support nightmare are only reasonably recent history.

Eric Meyer sums up how I feel:

“Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it. Those who do learn history are doomed to watch it repeated by those who didn’t.”

Tweet from January 2017

It’s a quote that’s not directly related to this situation but I do feel like a bit of reading up on the Internet Explorer monopoly alone should have even the most short sighted amongst us worried.

I also think that we’re in another cycle of “just build X into the browser” with React being the most recent framework of choice. Why not have a browser monopoly cycle to go with it? Again, the same quote from above applies.

Uh oh, AMP permalink

I often jokingly link AMP to the era when almost every consumer accessed the internet with those pesky AOL CDs. Note how I say “internet” and not “the web”, because that proprietary, corporate land-grab couldn’t be further from the principles of the web.

The thing is, with a key competitor to Google now giving up and embracing Chromium, what’s to say they won’t also embrace Google’s other pet open source project, AMP? What if they also give up on Bing? It all starts getting a bit “AOL” at that point.

Support Firefox permalink

I’ll say it bluntly: we must support Firefox. We can’t, as a community allow this browser engine monopoly. We must use Firefox as our main dev browsers; we must encourage our friends and families to use it, too.

Yes, it’s not perfect, nor are Mozilla, but we can help them to develop and grow by using Firefox and reporting issues that we find. If we just use and build for Chromium, which is looking likely (cough Internet Explorer monopoly cough), then Firefox will fall away and we will then have just one major engine left. I don’t ever want to see that.

I’ve tried to use Firefox before and given up way too easily, so I pledge now to use it as my main dev browser and talk positively about it as much as I can on here and Twitter.

Will you join me? I hope you will, because we can make a positive impact on this situation as a community.

Hi 👋, I’m Andy — an educator and web designer

I produce front-end development tutorials over at Front-End Challenges Club and Piccalilli. You can sign up for updates on Piccalilli to stay up to date with its progress.

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