Decoded Chats – third edition featuring Chris Wilson on JavaScript and Web Standards

At the Microsoft/Mozilla Progressive Web Apps workshop in Seattle I ran into Chris Wilson and took the opportunity to interview him on Web Standards, JavaScript dependency and development complexity.

In this first interview we covered the need for JavaScript in today’s web and how old-school web standards stand up to today’s needs.

You can see the video and get the audio recording of our chat over at the Decoded blog:

Monica saying hi

Chris has been around the web block several times and knows a lot about standards and how developers make them applicable to various different environments. He worked on various browsers and has a high passion for the open web and empowering developers with standards and great browsers.

Here are the questions we covered:

  • A current hot topic that seems to come up every few years is the dependency of web products on JavaScript, and if we could do without it. What is the current state there?
  • Didn’t the confusion start when we invented the DOM and allowed for declarative and programmatic access to the document? JavaScript can create HTML and CSS and give us much more control over the outcome.
  • One of the worries with Web Components was that it would allow developers to hide a lot of complexity in custom elements. Do we have a problem understanding that modules are meant to be simple?
  • Isn’t part of the issue that the web was built on the premise of documents and that a nature of modules needs to be forced into it? CSS has cascade in its name, yet modules shouldn’t inherit styles from the document.
  • Some functionality needed for modern interfaces seem to be achievable with competing standards. You can animate in CSS, JavaScript and in SVG. Do different standard working groups not talk to each other?
  • Declarative functionality in CSS and HTML can be optimised by browser makers. When you – for example – create animations in JavaScript, we can’t do that for you. Is that a danger?
  • A lot of JavaScript enhancements we see in browsers now is enhancing existing APIs instead of inventing new ones. Passive Event listeners is a great example. Is this something that will be the way forward?
  • One thing that seems to be wasteful is that a lot of research that went into helper libraries in the past dies with them. YUI had a lot of great information about animation and interaction. Can we prevent this somehow?
  • Do you feel that hacks die faster these days? Is a faster release schedule of browsers the solution to not keeping short-term solutions clog up the web?
  • It amazes me what browsers allow me to do these days and create working layouts and readable fonts for me. Do you think developers don’t appreciate the complexity of standards and CSS enough?

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