Notation, says he wants a browser war. Well, with Google's introduction of its
Chrome browser Sept. 2 he just may have it.
During a keynote at the Rich Web Experience conference here Sept. 4, Crockford
said the term "Web time" used to mean "fast," but not anymore. The last time ECMAScript and HTML were revised was in 1999, an
era when things happened fast on the Web, he said. "What happened then?"
Crockford asked, questioning the source of that speed. "They had a browser
war. I want a browser war," he said, although acknowledging that
the industry still needs to undo some of the pain of the last browser war.
"It turns out a browser war is a good thing," although most of the
pain will be borne by Web developers and users, Crockford said.
Crockford said innovation should be happening in research labs and not in
standards bodies. Indeed, some of the "good works" in the Web world
of late include AJAX, JSON, Google
Gears, XDomain Request from Microsoft, and Google's Chrome. "I'm not sure
if Chrome's going to be successful on its own or not," Crockford said.
Moreover, Crockford said this time around in a browser war "the market
must punish bad behavior." Yahoo has a Graded Browser Support program where
the company gives grades to various browsers, with "A" being the best
and "C" being the grade for blacklisted browsers. The "X"
grade is reserved for fringe browsers.
"My proposal is if a browser maker screws up we're going to rate them
poorly, and we can put significant pressure on the browser makers to stay in
The benefit of Yahoo having its Graded Browser Support program is, "Web
developers are under tremendous pressure to have their applications run on
everything. But developers can look at it and say, If Yahoo is not supporting
IE 5.5, why should I?" Crockford said. "We're going to get a lot of
inducement by all the browser makers to try to trick you so your site works
only for them; we shouldn't fall for that bait," he said.
For his part, Crockford said because of the first browser war the industry
needs standards. "Never again," he said of the industry enduring
another period like the mid- to late '90s when Microsoft and Netscape engaged
in a bitter standards war, because the companies were warring so much and
making changes so quickly that "they put a lot of bugs into the network
because they didn't have time to get it right."
Indeed, "the reason AJAX
happened in 2005 instead of 2000 is because it took all that time for the bugs
to get flushed out," he said. "Microsoft has been condemned for
having done nothing after winning the browser war. I contend that their doing
nothing is the best thing they could've done because it led to innovation by
others. Bravo, Microsoft."
Crockford, who has been critical of some of the proposed Web standards,
particularly the ECMAScript 4 proposal, said, "A revision to a standard is
an act of violence; it causes pain and injury. Careless revision of standards
has a huge social and business cost. Minimalism should be highly valued in
standards." Crockford then said the ECMAScript 4 proposal "lacked a
credible value proposition and added a huge amount of complexity." And he
praised the Ecma working group governing the specification for abandoning it
for an ECMAScript 3.1 proposal that "brings the standard more in line with
Crockford entitled his talk "Web Forward!" and said, "I'm
really interested in how the Web goes forward-the Web's been stuck and we need
to get it unstuck."
Crockford added that there is no such thing as Moore's
Law for software, but that software seems to be governed more by Murphy's Law.
"Rather than a doubling in productivity every two years, we see a doubling
of software productivity every 10 to 20 years." He noted major advancements
in software and pointed to OOP (object-oriented programming) as the last major
step in software development. But OOP has been around more than 20 years, he
"We're still waiting for the next thing," Crockford said. He said
that next thing might be assembling software like Lego pieces using components.
Meanwhile, Crockford said the Web is under attack and "browser security
is the biggest problem for the Web. The weaknesses of the browser are hampering
equation right, but it needs "object capability." He said in an
object capability system an object can only communicate with objects it has
reference to. And there are three ways to obtain a reference: by creation, by
construction and by introduction.
offer some safety now, and the Ecma technical committee governing ECMAScript
has begun work on Secure ECMAScript, he said.
"The war is coming; I'll see you in the
trenches," Crockford said.