How to Engage with Browser Vendors
An Offline Camp passion talk from Nolan Lawson
One of the biggest challenges facing the Offline First movement today is agreement on a set of standards that will support Offline First projects. This is particularly relevant with regard to web browsers, many of which don’t yet support key new technologies such as Service Workers. Nolan Lawson, a key contributor to the PouchDB project who’s well versed on Service Workers, recently transitioned to a job at Microsoft Edge, and has some tips on how we can best encourage browser vendors to support the functionality we need.
In his passion talk at Offline Camp California, Nolan emphasized that bug reporting is key to advocating for Offline First support, as well as all that other stuff you need from your browsers. Browser vendors want to help, but the way you phrase your requests — and highlight the broader issues at stake — can go a long way toward enabling them to do so. Here’s Nolan’s take on what’s important to share:
One of the first challenges in providing actionable feedback to web browsers is locating their bug reporting sites. Nolan has curated a quick list of bug trackers to make this a bit easier for us:
- Chrome: https://bugs.chromium.org/p/chromium/issues/list
- Edge: https://developer.microsoft.com/microsoft-edge/platform/issues/
- Firefox: https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/
- Opera: https://bugs.opera.com/wizard/
- Safari: https://bugs.webkit.org/
In the bug tracker, you can provide steps to reproduce or a live demo to help browser vendors fix the bug faster. Sites like JSBin, CodePen, or Bl.ocks (Nolan’s favorite) are very useful for helping browser vendors to reproduce the bug. You can also star or upvote an issue if it already exists, and in the case of Edge there’s a separate forum called UserVoice just for upvoting.
There is also webcompat.org, which is a site where you can file browser bugs even if you’re not sure which browser has the bug, or if it’s the website’s fault, or even if the bug is in the spec itself. (Mike Taylor from the Web Compat team at Mozilla has a fantastic talk on how to make browsers compatible for the web.)
Nolan also recommends checking out the GitHub repos for the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and the Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group (WHATWG), where most of the emerging standards for the web are being discussed. There you can go to any repo (e.g. Service Workers) and open up an issue or a pull request on the spec.
Web Workers help reduce jank; Service Workers have an additional superpower: adding offline capabilities. I debut html5workertest.com as a means of demystifying them.
Editor’s Note: Participants at Offline Camps have diverse backgrounds and interests, ranging far beyond the Offline First approach that we come together to discuss. Through short passion talks, campers share with us some of the hobbies, projects, and technologies that excite them. We offer you this taste of that passion for as a preview to our upcoming events. Learn more at the camp website or follow us on Twitter for updates.