Web Components return power to Web designers

Web Components return power to Web designers

05 August 2014

One recurring source of frustration for Web designers is the speed at which browsers develop.  Being really creative requires the use of cutting-edge Web design tools ..

But Catch-22: these tools, if supported at all, are only spported by the most up-to-date browsers.  So innovation ends up isolating the very users we aim to serve.

Ensuring that Web browsers adopt concordant functionality is the role of the standards bodies. By its very nature, standardization is a laborious process focused on achieving the lowest-common-denominator: consensus. This lag results in the browser manufacturers developing non-standard innovation, which further fractures the browser landscape and perpetuates the frustrating cycle.

That's not to say these standards bodies aren't useful. On the contrary, the Web could not work as it does today without them. It's just that we Web designers want to build great solutions as we think of them, not wait a decade so that everyone can see them the same way!

So what's the answer? Well, it looks like a new set of tools called Web Components could put innovation back in the hands of the most innovative. The idea is to flip the current setup on its head, so Web developers implement ideas without fear of browser rejection. Then the very best can be retrospectively enshrined within future standards.

For example, one of these tools - Custom Elements - lets Web designers create and package HTML elements and their behaviour. So instead of writing javascript to centre a Google map, we might make up a new HTML element <google-maps latitude="0" longitude="0"></google-maps>, with our own methods and properties to control how those parameters work.

In theory, the best new HTML element ideas will be developed and tested by the masses at open-source development speed. Once perfected, they can be standardized as part of the HTML language.

Sounds like a much healthier feedback cycle, huh? The great news is that all these Web Components are set to be implemented within the major browsers within 18 months. If nothing else, they should re-democratize the power to direct and drive Web development. And maybe - just maybe - the public Web will once again challenge the power of the commercial walled-garden networks that threaten to engulf the privacy of the individual.

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