Mozilla Web API: Friend or foe?

Mozilla recently announced a new WebAPI for enabling mobile web applications to talk to device features. If that sounds familiar, then it should, as W3C and WAC have been developing similar APIs for a few years now. The scope of the Mozilla initiative looks, on first glance, to be almost exactly the same as that of DAP – including the APIs that the W3C DAP group have put on the “at risk” list.

This could of course be good news if Mozilla uses this as an opportunity to push forward on DAP specs that haven’t made progress for one reason or another (e.g. Media Gallery and Calendar). However, in some cases the delay hasn’t been lack of interest or effort, but simply waiting for other parts of the web platform to become stable (e.g. websockets and HTML5 device/navigator object). There has also been a lot of learning going on as to what the right design patterns are for these kinds of APIs (listeners versus callbacks, multiple versus single handlers, etc.) and what is an appropriate scope given the stability of different aspects of device hardware functionality.

In the comments on the post linked above Robert Nyman responded to criticisms that Mozilla was fragmenting the standards space:

The idea is to collaborate with W3C and all players and together form a good solution, and not just dump it on them.

However it would have been better to have made this completely clear at the outset rather than announce the WebAPI as if it were a completely green field idea and then handle the “WTF?” reaction. (A similar argument emerged in relation to Mozilla announcing what appeared to be a competing installable web application/widget format)

Of course this means I have to add some more boxes to my mobile web applications standards wall-of-bricks picture  (click for the larger version):

Matrix showing various standards in a grid. These are the W3C specifications, the WAC specifications, and the Mozilla Web APIs. There is pretty much 100% overlap of Mozilla specs with both W3C and WAC.However perhaps the best comment on the WebAPI proposal comes from a poster called James:

Please refer to http://xkcd.com/927/ and then adopt one of the 14 existing proposals.”

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This entry was posted in apps, mobile, standards, widgets. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Mozilla Web API: Friend or foe?

  1. Pingback: Open web apps and device APIs « Here we are

  2. Pingback: Firefox OS Web Apps: Great concept, shame about the not-invented-here | Scott's Workblog

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