Why the death of EdgeHTML is bad for the Internet

December 7, 2018
Master 15 posts
Followers: 7 people
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Why the death of EdgeHTML is bad for the Internet

Master 15 posts
Followers: 7 people
December 7, 2018

Imagine this… there’s three big banks in the world.  That’s it.  A huge, for-profit, commercial bank that controls most of the money in the world, a second, scrappy for-profit bank that’s trying to compete with that first bank, and a third non-profit bank that has a tremendous amount of support and love from the community, but doesn’t have the pockets of the for-profit banks.  Now imagine that scrappy bank goes under.  Competition suffers.  More pressure is put on the non-profit.  The largest bank gains more power over the world’s currencies.  Choice goes away.  The giant bank can charge whatever they want because really… what are your other options?

A similar scenario is happening online.  This week, Microsoft announced that it was going to shutter EdgeHTML in favour of Chromium in future upgrades and versions of Windows 10.  This is not good for the Internet at large.  As much as I rely on Google, I no longer trust them to stay true to their “do no evil” mantra of the early 2000’s.  With Chromium being the lions share of the browser engines available, that choice, freedom, and motivation to innovate goes away a little more.

Remember this madness?

(In my best old man voice) Of course you don’t you little millennial bast’id with your social media, and your always online, and your stupid hairdos… get off my lawn!  Let me give you a little history lesson.  Back in the day, there were basically two browsers:  Netscape and Internet Explorer.  When Microsoft really pushed IE hard in the faces of computer users everywhere, they pleased the developer community by making cool new features that flew in the face of W3C standards.  This caused a lot of websites to build two versions; an IE version that was cooler and more cutting edge; and a Netscape version that didn’t have all the new hotness.

A major issue with that scenario was that until a major competitor came along (in the form of Firefox to compete with IE 6) there was no real reason on Microsoft’s part to innovate the browser.  As time went on, IE became more bloated, and unable to keep up with emerging standards to the point where it imploded and had to be rebuilt from the ground up with the EdgeHTML engine.  However, now that Microsoft has chosen to shutter EdgeHTML, and Chromium and Mozilla are the only two major browser engines available, history seems doomed to repeat itself.  Indeed, it’s already happening with some developers focusing their development on Chrome speculative features that aren’t ratified by the W3C.

So how does this tie into ColdFusion?

It’s pretty simple actually… I don’t want to go back to the Netscape/IE days.  Building disparate versions of sites for different browsers sucked.  Hard.  I do want standards that get adhered to… and I don’t want Google to be the gatekeeper of those standards.  I want those standards certified by an independent, not-for-profit organization that’s doing it out of passion; not out of a sense of how much additional PII they can glean from their users.  I want Adobe and ColdFusion to know how to build their future products to adhere to internationally ratified and accepted standards; not what some commercial enterprise decided they could push out in their latest release that isn’t supported anywhere else.

As much as I dislike IE, and wanted to see it die, Edge gave me hope that the spirit of competition would help drive innovation.

 

Comments (4)
2018-12-10 18:35:02
2018-12-10 18:35:02

I have so many feelings on this, I don’t know where to start.

When I think of Edge, I think of Microsoft’s attempt to unify the Windows Desktop and Windows Phone user interfaces. Edge has always been that hard thing to use for me.

Edge has always been behind Chrome and Firefox in terms of standards compliance, features, ease of use. You name it, it is bad.

~~~~

Firefox OTOH, is doing OK but not great. We are now in the situation where 80% of the people on the Internet will soon be on same browser. That might make it easier for programming because their will be fewer targets, but I can see it a slowing down innovation.

If Chrome does something in a certain way, then that will be the way that it is done.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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James Mohler
's comment
2018-12-10 20:17:17
2018-12-10 20:17:17
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James Mohler
's comment

Agreed… and that’s why I think it’s bad overall.  I remember a time when I said “can’t we all just use the same browser?”  I don’t think that’s good for innovation.

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James Mohler
's comment
2018-12-11 17:03:57
2018-12-11 17:03:57
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James Mohler
's comment

I’m old like you, and I remember the days of the browser wars and how Microsoft won using their windows monopoly. And I took part in the Firefox revolution to “take back the Internet”. I still remember rejoicing the day when overall IE usage dropped below 50%. Ah, the old days…

As far as Edge moving to Chromium. I hear your fear, and I have seen other people express the same apprehension. But one point to remember…Edge is going to be using Blink, not Chromium. Blink is just a rendering engine. Microsoft will still have to build all of the other stuff that makes up a browser. That said, I can hear you thinking “But Blink is where the rubber meets the road, as afar as web development and standards”. And this is true, but it is also an open source project. If Microsoft feels they don’t like the direction that Google heads down the road, they can easily fork Blink and sidestep the bad stuff. </2 cents>

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yacoubean
's comment
2018-12-12 16:52:07
2018-12-12 16:52:07
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yacoubean
's comment

I was there but I must have been in a different part of the war. I was leading a team of 4 developers (5 total). It was a job for two people, but we had to have five. Why? Netscape 4’s CSS implementation was so bad, we couldn’t use it. We were littering our pages with font tags everywhere. Our code base was 50% bigger than needed, it was slower because it was bigger. We had to spend more time testing because everything had to be set one by one.

I was once asked if we could theme our site because a customer wanted it themed. I said with CSS it would be trivial, without it, all 5 of use would be tied up for 1/2 year and rollouts would be painful. In those days, I could not wait for Netscape 4 to go away. It held up progress for years.

~~~~~

These days, I have the same feeling with IE 11. The sooner it goes away the better. (It is not as bad as Netscape 4)

 

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