[whatwg] Why won't you let us make our own HTML5 browsers?

Fred Andrews fredandw at live.com
Fri Jul 27 06:52:28 PDT 2012

On Tue, 19 Jun 2012 11:56:04 +0200, Chaals McCathieNevile <w3b at chaals.com>

> On Fri, 08 Jun 2012 05:05:11 +0200, Mark Callow <callow_mark at hicorp.co.jp>
> wrote:
>> On 08/06/2012 06:09, Ian Hickson wrote:
>>> The dire warning doesn't work. I'm just saying that's the direction that
>>> operating system vendors have been going in; that disallowing it in the
>>> browser case is not a different direction, it's consistent with the
>>> industry's direction as a whole.
>> The platform providers want control so they can extract money from
>> application developers;
> Sure. Although in most cases they are not in a position to enforce this.
> You *can* choose another browser - or even make your own. If you don't,
> then you're failing to keep your side of the freedom bargain ("the price
> of freedom is eternal vigilance")
>> they do it under the guise of safety & security so people will go along
>> with it. Governments get control over people in the same way.
> The comment is sometimes true. It is also true that users get very upset
> *at the browser* when it permits things to happen that they hadn't
> expected. The same-origin security policy that is rampant on the Web is
> clearly unhelpful in many ways. And doesn't have any particular benefit
> for browser manufacturers, except that it protects users.
>> In both cases it is an existential threat to freedom and civil liberties.
> I think that is overstating the case. A *lot*. Nobody forces you to follow
> the way this is specified. You can just implement something different, and
> nobody will stop you. That happens all the time, for different issues. It
> is simply untrue to say that nobody will *let* you make your own browser.
> We write the spec so you can more easily figure out how to make it
> compatible with the web - in other words, to *help* you do so.

I wish this were the case, however it does appear that websites,
are trying to control the platform.  They do this via their terms
of use and by twisting laws to suit them.  There was a recent case
in which Google took down a website that presented audio from
youtube videos, stating terms of use violations and copyright laws.
This service could well be viewed as a cloud web browser that was
presenting the content in a format requested by the users.  There
are many other terms of use that attempt to place significant
restrictions on use.  If it can ever be claimed that HTML is a
standard suited to delivery of digital content on the terms stated
by websites then it will be a significant loss.

Adding virtual browser app support would make it so easy to develop
and share customized web browsers that it would be near
impossible for websites to enforce restrictions.

It would also empower users of devices with a fixed browser to
still be able to have a web app that suits their needs.  It is
very easy for devices to lock out other native browsers, but if
custom browsers apps become popular then such devices would be
less attractive which would place pressure on them to open up.

The browser app need not have any more privilege than any other
webpage.  It can manage its own navigation tabs and history.  It
could even be of utility if it was unable to save files.  For
example, a browser app could implement privacy strategies to
minimize fingerprinting and tracking etc.

The Firefox OS project is developing an implementation and I
think this is a really exciting development that could empower
web users.  It would help web users use their browser in the
manner they want rather than as dictated by websites.

I will try to assist the development of this feature and to make
an implementation available as a modification to Firefox if it
does not get official support in Firefox.

There are some real concerns relating to the trust users place in
the browser apps.  However these apps could be curated as for
current add-ons.




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