The future of the browser – London Conference 2011

How best to spend your Saturday as listening to uber geeks talking about the future of the browser!

After having listening to presentations from Google Chrome, Mozilla and Opera. (the absence of IE was not  due to their lack of ambition to continue operating as the leader in this field – to the biggest disappointed of a lot of the programmers present – but to family problems) below is what I – as probably the least geek in the room – took away from the show.

HTML5

With no exception, all the presentations were dominated by the wonders of html5.

The key examples given were the easy of creating forms and the use of canvas.  These have been in the spotlight for a while but the emphasis seems to have been put on how to automate the process of bridging the gap between html5 and not compatible browsers (i.e : most of them). Tools such the www.modernizr.com came up a number of times in the discussions.

Some fascinating demos were shared of what people now can do with css3 without using any javascripts.

I highly recommend watching the Mozilla presentation for more info and demos here http://www.vimeo.com/21402112

Upgrading

Upgrading browsers came across as a big headache for a number of reasons. The ‘secret upgrade’ way of dealing with the problem was clearly the preferred choice. (despite the fact that a couple of years ago people would have been horrified by the prospect of not being fully aware of what is happening on their computers). This has been happening with Google Chrome and there was a promise from Mozilla that it is coming on Firefox too.

Mozilla just launched Firefox 4 and ‘hopefully’ they are expecting to launch 5 during summer and 6/7 imminently.  If you do the maths, This will very quickly lead to v100, which did trigger cynic smiles on some faces.

Developers vs. IT Dinos

Though the place was packed with young developers, there were some more senior people in the room (credit to them), whom identified themselves as IT Dinosaurs. They were mainly heads of IT of big originations. Clearly, their biggest headache did not lie in the latest build ons of the various browsers but how to keep up to date with all the changes including upgrading internal systems. Inevitably, the cost of upgrades became a very sensitive subject but –understandably – the two worthwhile responses from Mozilla were 1. They cannot do much about it 2. People should compare the cost of upgrading with the extra cost of maintaining (development, admin etc.) out of date systems.

Have you heard of China and India??

Of course, we just chose to ignore them. (This is the time to check the percentage of your visits coming from BRIC counties)

It was quite frightening to see how narrow minded we still are. Lot of the websites are still only developed and tested for browsers popular in Western countries.

It is quite shocking but only in China, 155 million people  still uses IE6!!!

And the winner is…

Voted by 150 developers, Google Chrome came on top as the preferred browser out of all by quite a big margin followed by not surprisingly Firefox, Safari and … IE.

The ABSOLUTE winner is…

Having said that, Blackberry did come out as the absolute winner, they successfully identified what truly MATTERS to the ‘browser population’!!!! ‘BEER’. Putting their card behind the bar, definitely did the trick.

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