[whatwg] Web Storage: apparent contradiction in spec

Linus Upson linus at google.com
Wed Aug 26 20:23:10 PDT 2009

I simply want clicking on links to be safe. In a previous thread I wrote
"safe and stateless" but I'm coming to the opinion that stateless is
a corollary of safe. Clicking on links shouldn't, either by filling my disk
or hitting my global quota, someday lead to a dialog which reads, "Please
choose what to delete so that web sites will continue to work." The
candidate delete list will be thousands long and hidden in that haystack
will be a few precious needles.
I also want to avoid any [Yes] [No] dialogs. Can I do something scary [Yes]
[No]? Can I do something innocuous [Yes] [No]? Users shouldn't be forced to
make those kinds of safety judgements. I'm guilty of instigating at least
one of those dialogs. As shamed politicians do I'll retreat to the passive
voice: Mistakes were made.

I'm not opposed to web apps manipulating files on the user's computer, but
the user should be in explicit control. I'd support <input type="open"> and
<input type="save"> that worked similarly to <input type="file">. User
agents are already registering for file types so that double clicking a file
with a certain extension can be automatically sent to an URL, perhaps
residing in an AppCache.

In addition, I'd like to see the pop-up dialogs for the location API
removed. I find the "Can I know where you are?" dialogs on the iPhone very
annoying. Mistakes were made. Perhaps we can find a way to make <input
type="location"> work well instead.


On Wed, Aug 26, 2009 at 5:14 PM, Brady Eidson <beidson at apple.com> wrote:

> I started writing a detailed rebuttal to Linus's reply, but by the time I
> was finished, many others had already delivered more targetted replies.
> So I'll cut the rebuttal format and make a few specific points.
>  - Many apps act as a "shoebox" for managing specific types of data, and
> users are used to using these apps to manage that data directly.  See
> iTunes, Windows Media Player, iPhoto, and desktop mail clients as examples.
>  This trend is growing, not waning.  Browsers are already a "shoebox" for
> history, bookmarks, and other types of data.
> Claiming that this data is "hidden" from users who are used to handling
> obscure file management scenarios  and therefore we shouldn't fully respect
> it is trying to fit in with the past, not trying to make the future better.
>  - No one is suggesting that UAs not have whatever freedom they want in
> deciding *what* or *how much* to store.  We're only suggesting that once the
> UA has committed to storing it, it *not* be allowed to arbitrarily purge it.
>  - One use of LocalStorage is as a cache for data that is transient and
> non-critical in nature, or that will live on a server.  But another,
> just-as-valid use of LocalStorage is for persistent, predictable storage in
> the client UA that will never rely on anything in the cloud.
>  - And on that note, if developers don't have faith that data in
> LocalStorage is actually persistent and safe, they won't use it.
> I've given talks on this point 4 times in the last year, and I am stating
> this as a fact, based on real-world feedback from actual, real-world web
> developers:  If LocalStorage is defined in the standard to be a purgable
> cache, developers will continue to use what they're already comfortable
> with, which is Flash's LocalStorage.
> When a developer is willing to instantiate a plug-in just to reliably store
> simple nuggets of data - like user preferences and settings - because they
> don't trust the browser, then I think we've failed in moving the web
> forward.
> I truly hope we can sway the "LocalStorage is a cache crowd."  But if we
> can't, then I would have to suggest something crazy - that we add a third
> Storage object.
> (Note that Jens - from Google - has already loosely suggested this)
> So we'd have something like:
> -SessionStorage - That fills the "per browsing context" role and whose
> optionally transient nature is already well spec'ed
> -CachedStorage - That fills Google's interpretation of the "LocalStorage"
> role in that it's global, and "will probably be around on the disk in the
> future, maybe"
> -FileStorage - That fills Apple's interpretation of the "LocalStorage" role
> in that it's global, and is as sacred as a file on the disk (or a song in
> your media library, or a photo in your photo library, or a bookmark, or...)
> The names are just suggestions at this point.
> ~Brady
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