Some bits about web

Diary of an Engine Diversity Absolutist

In all of these cases, the back pressure that gives wide review any force, beyond a moral high ground, is the fact of multiple implementations. To put it another way, why would implementers listen to wide review if not for the implied threat that a particular feature will not be implemented by other engines?

So yes, I absolutely think multiple implementations are a good thing for the web. Without multiple implementations, I absolutely think that none of this positive stuff would have happened. I think we’d have a much more boring and less diverse and vibrant web platform. Proponents of a “move fast and break things” approach to the web tend to defend their approach as defending the web from the dominance of native applications. I absolutely think that situation would be worse right now if it weren’t for the pressure for wide review that multiple implementations has put on the web.

Microsoft’s release of its new, Chromium-based, Edge browser has sparked renewed concerns about the rapidly decreasing diversity of browser engines. “All browsers becoming Chrome” is problematic in many ways, but while having bigger contributors like Microsoft in the Chromium project could actually help steering the project away from its Google-centric agenda, the issues intrinsic to relying on a single implementation remain open.

via torgo.com
January 27, 2020

Software disenchantment

Death to Electron!

Modern cars work, let’s say for the sake of argument, at 98% of what’s physically possible with the current engine design. Modern buildings use just enough material to fulfill their function and stay safe under the given conditions. All planes converged to the optimal size/form/load and basically look the same. Only in software, it’s fine if a program runs at 1% or even 0.01% of the possible performance. Everybody just seems to be ok with it. People are often even proud about how much inefficient it is, as in “why should we worry, computers are fast enough”:

Software engineering shifted from craftsmanship to being an industrial process without learning any lesson from other… industries.

Now it’s easy to hate on Electron’s inefficiency or blame overengineering becoming standard practice in “modern” software development, but if we really want to tackle the issue, we should focus on changing the perception of the underlying economics that push businesses to accept the tradeoffs between performances and the ability to ship products faster. Nothing comes for free, and today’s competitive advantage is tomorrow’s technical debt.

It’s totally acceptable to build products that are “good enough”, but we should never stop challenging how good is good enough.

via tonsky.me
September 24, 2018

The Scientific Paper Is Obsolete. Here’s What’s Next

It’ll be some time before computational notebooks replace PDFs in scientific journals, because that would mean changing the incentive structure of science itself. Until journals require scientists to submit notebooks, and until sharing your work and your data becomes the way to earn prestige, or funding, people will likely just keep doing what they’re doing.

It is incredibly depressing that we live in a world where scientific knowledge is still shared mostly by means of PDF documents, but the title of this article is misleading at best. The future of science communication will not be built on yet another proprietary document format. On the other hand, the Web platform has all the technical capabilities needed to create any sort of “computational” papers, but it still lacks appropriate authoring tools to empower scientists to do it by themselves.
The reports of the scientific paper’s death have been (unfortunately) greatly exaggerated.

via theatlantic.com
April 17, 2018

A Brief History of JavaScript

Netscape Navigator

It all happened in six months from May to December 1995. Netscape Communications Corporation had a strong presence in the young web. Its browser, Netscape Communicator, was gaining traction as a competitor to NCSA Mosaic, the first popular web browser. Netscape was founded by the very same people that took part in the development of Mosaic during the early 90s, and now, with money and independence, they had the necessary freedom to seek further ways to expand the web. And that is precisely what gave birth to JavaScript.

Nice post on the history of JavaScript, or how a scripting language that was initially designed and developed in a few weeks has become one of the most successful programming languages of all time.

via auth0.com
January 23, 2017
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