[whatwg] RWD Heaven: if browsers reported device capabilities in a request header

Boris Zbarsky bzbarsky at MIT.EDU
Tue Feb 7 13:38:17 PST 2012

On 2/7/12 3:59 PM, Matthew Wilcox wrote:
> Fair enough. This then becomes a cost/benefit issue. But there's nothing to stop this working if the user's default is an opt out and a prompt is given to allow. In exactly the same way that things currently work for geo-location data. Right?

Maybe.  That's pretty intrusive UI...  and I'm not a UI designer.

>> Just wait until UAs start shipping with JS disabled for certain domains by default, just like they're already shipping with other capabilities turned on or off with certain domains by default.
> I browse with NoScript and regularly come across people that haven't coded site's responsibly (it drives me nuts). While I applaud this notion because it'll bring more attention to the issue - i highly doubt it'll have any impact on the larger spectrum of sites. JS is now relied on and if certain UA's deliver a broken web-page to users, the users are just going to blame the software, not the website. Why? Because the site works in every *other* browser, including their old ones...

I did say "certain domains".  Think "script disabled for Facebook Like 
buttons by default".  ;)

> They should be. But at the same time a hell of a lot of people have read that FaceBook watches their every move, and yet happily continue to use it. Users don't weigh the issue in the same way we do.

A lot of them don't true.

> Agreed! It's still my inclination to default to more permissive things though. If people build poor sites, users stop going, the site fails, and either the author learns (I hope) or switches to a job with less requirement on skill level. It's like in business - if you're not providing a decent product, you don't survive. The government doesn't just disallow people from making rubbish with the resources they have.

A problem comes when "too big to fail" sites are coded somewhat 
incompetently.  Things like Google's web properties, Yahoo, Microsoft, 
eBay.  Heck, CNN (which is coded _very_ incompetently, imo).  For sites 
like that, the user is more likely to switch browsers or even devices 
than to use a different site...  Sometimes there is no "different site": 
if MSDN breaks in your browser, what alternate documentation repository 
will you use, exactly?  If you use gmail and it breaks in your browser, 
then what?

Plenty of people have been producing websites of .... varying quality 
... for a decade or more and surviving just fine.

> In that case I completely agree. But the answer is educate them to test the right thing.

This is a _huge_ undertaking.  We (Mozilla) don't have the manpower for 
it; we've done evangelism and education in the past, and it's _very_ 
labor-intensive.  Opera has literally dozens of people working full-time 
on this sort of thing and they say they don't really have the manpower 
for it either.

The real answer needs to be to build things that are easier to use right 
than to use wrong, because developers will almost always choose the path 
of least resistance.  And I can't blame them.

> Ooo, interesting. OK, doesn't SPDY allow pushing content and open connections? Can't we hijack that? And, given that any and all new info is triggered by a request of some sort, why wouldn't the browser send updated headers with those requests? (Again, may be a daft question, I am not familiar with how this stuff works on any real level of detail)

I'm not familiar enough with SPDY to comment intelligently.

> Interesting example. OK, how could this be fixed? Could hooks not be provided for JS so that the site author could watch for these changes and re-request as needed?

That might be the right way to go, yeah...  Now we're getting somewhere.  ;)


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