Microsoft, Mozilla & Opera: Don’t make -webkit- prefixes a de facto standard
Not so long ago, Internet Explorer 6 was the over-dominant browser on the Web. The Web was full of works-only-in-IE6 web sites and users of the other browsers were left with no choice but to use IE6 or not have access to critical services like their bank accounts. That was half a dozen years ago and IE6 is pretty much dead now, much to the relief of many web professionals, other browser vendors, and even Microsoft itself. Unfortunately, however, although IE6 is gone, the “IE6 problem” problem is back:
WebKit, the rendering engine at the heart of Safari and Chrome, living in iPhones, iPads and Android devices, is now the over-dominant browser on the mobile Web and, as a result, the mobile Web is full of works-only-in-WebKit web sites. These web sites leave non-WebKit users without the access they need by filtering out non-WebKit browsers. As in the past with IE6, it's not because the other browsers are less-capable, but is instead due to the market dominance of WebKit and the fact that it is so tightly integrated into the two dominant mobile platforms.
There is an aspect of the problem we did not have during the IE6 era, though: these web sites are also WebKit-specific because they use "experimental" CSS properties prefixed with -webkit-* without including their Mozilla, Microsoft or Opera counterparts. In many cases that means that if the browser filtering goes away, many of these web sites will remain broken for non-WebKit browsers...
In many if not most cases, the -webkit-* properties WebKit-specific web sites are using do have -moz-*, -ms-*, -o-* equivalents. Gradients, Transforms, Transitions, Animations, and border-radius are all interoperable enough to be browser-agnostic. Web authors need only a few minutes to make a site compatible with Mozilla, Microsoft or Opera. But they never did it.
If we don’t take a stand, this can lead to one thing only and we're dangerously not far from there: other browsers will start supporting/implementing the -webkit-* prefix, turning one single experimental implementation into a new world-wide standard. It will turn a market share into a de facto standard-creation mechanism and a single implementation into a world-wide monopoly. Again. It will kill our standardization process. That's not a question of if, that's a question of when.
Please stand with us now by
1) Telling Microsoft, Mozilla, and Opera not to implement the -webkit-* vendor prefix, and
2) Pledging to update every site you can to use the other vendor-specific prefixed (and non-prefixed) versions of each -webkit-* property you find, even if you’re not sure it exists yet.
Together, we can stop this madness.
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