[whatwg] Proposed additions to ClientInformation interface

Ian Hickson ian at hixie.ch
Fri Jan 16 16:13:56 PST 2009

On Tue, 8 Jul 2008, Maciej Stachowiak wrote:
> I think there are two competing ideas here that are sometimes in 
> tension:
> A) Web applications are just Web pages and should be indistinguishable 
> from any other Web page.
> B) Web applications are just applications and should be 
> indistinguishable from any other (e.g. native) application.
> Obviously the Web platform has a long way to go to really achieve B, and 
> it is important to preserve the strengths of the Web in the course of 
> making Web applications give something closer to a native experience 
> (security, accessibility, ubiquitousness, platform-independence, etc).
> The way I think of standalone(*) Web applications is that they should 
> work well in the browser context, but be able to provide progressive 
> enhancement when in standalone mode. For example, native applications 
> have custom icons in the Dock under Mac OS X, but pages in a browser 
> window do not, so we let Web applications have the ability to customize 
> the icon only when running in standalone mode.
> * - When I say "standalone Web application" I am referring to mechanisms 
> like Mozilla Prism, Fluid, and Safari 4's "Save as Web Application" 
> feature.
> I am probably largely preaching to the choir here, but I wanted to give 
> the premises for our thinking.

The above makes sense to me.

> > > In support of this new area of interest, I propose two new additions 
> > > to the ClientInformation interface as follows:
> > > 
> > > First:  "readonly attribute boolean standalone;"
> >
> > I am very concerned about Web authors doing exactly this, and would in 
> > fact strongly like to encourage authors not to do this. Can you give 
> > an example of a use case where there would be a difference?
> We did not initially think there was a need for this, but multiple 
> developer requests changed our mind. In retrospect, however, they all 
> boil down to customizing the UI when the window's toolbar is not present 
> (to use the extra space on small fixed-size screens, or to add visual 
> weight to the top of the window on large screens). And this can already 
> be determined via "toolbar.visible". In fact that would do the right 
> thing even in user agents that always or never show a toolbar, so that 
> is probably the right thing to recommend.
> The other possible use case would be to avoid displaying any "save as 
> Web app" UI, but that is better handled by that feature.
> Brady, what do you think? Would toolbar.visible work ok for this?

I've specced out window.toolbar.visible.

> > Things like changing the look based on what the author knows of the 
> > "standalone mode" of their own browser is very dangerous, as it would 
> > result in things clashing with other browsers' looks and feels.
> Browsers do already report some information about the UI, and it is 
> probably better to reuse that than to invent something new that has a 
> less direct relationship.


> [...]

Do you have any implementation experience with <bb type="makeapp">?

Ian Hickson               U+1047E                )\._.,--....,'``.    fL
http://ln.hixie.ch/       U+263A                /,   _.. \   _\  ;`._ ,.
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