HTML5 app manifests – are we emulating failure?

There’s a good article by groovecoder called Packaged HTML5 Apps: Are we emulating failure? which argues that “URLs delivered a better experience than native desktop apps; they can do the same for mobile apps”. groovecoder shows the shortcomings of app stores and installation processes, and suggests that a manifest/ packaging format for HTML apps would be a better experience.

And it would, except we’re currently emulating failure here too. Instead of getting together and agreeing on one standard that works across browsers, there are numerous different packaging formats which force developers to choose their platforms and thus stymies interoperability.

Here we are again. Best viewed in Netscape 4 or IE4? Here’s your multimedia, ma’am; would you like it Flash, Real Audio or Windows Media?

If only there were some kind of consortium of vendors, that strove to protect and strengthen the World Wide Web to ensure it can compete against native apps and locked-down platforms. It could serve as a mechanism for agreeing interoperable standards.

This potential “Consortium for the World Wide Web” (or “CW3″ for short) could even have a middle-aged, slightly bewildered-looking Englishman as its director. I’d volunteer.

5 Responses to “ HTML5 app manifests – are we emulating failure? ”

Comment by groovecoder

I hope you read the follow-up about building an HTML5 app store. I linked to your post about the competing app manifests, and suggested a way to build an HTML5 app search engine even with the competing standards by using schema.org WebApplication/browserRequirements.

But I’m with you – I don’t understand why Mozilla (my employer) and Google are pushing on with their own manifest formats. I’m sure there are reasons, but I’m not sure what they are or why we aren’t bringing those reasons to a W3C standard discussion.

Comment by Bruce

groovecoder – yes, I did. Thanks for writing them. The central problem is, sadly, “not invented here”ism. Everyone should sit and hammer out a way to do this interoperably. I don’t much care whether the spec using XML, JSON, Bison. As HTML5 shows us, interoperability trumps spec elegance any time.

And a standard for browser extensions would be nice too!

Comment by Stomme poes

groovecoder’s post reminded me of this one that flew by the other day: http://tommorris.org/posts/8070 (“No, I’m not going to download your bullshit app”).

The argument for having app standards is of course separate from the argument that it’s anti-user (anti-people and therefore anti-customer) to require people to perform 32 separate steps while dancing on one foot and setting their hair on fire to do something that’s supposed to be “easy”.