Web browsers need to stop August 13, 2020 on Drew DeVault's blog

Enough is enough.

The web and web browsers have become Lovecraftian horrors of an unprecedented scale. They’ve long since left “scope creep” territory and entered “oh my god please just stop” territory, and are trucking on through to hitherto unexplored degrees of obscene scope. And we don’t want what they’re selling. Google pitches garbage like AMP1 and pushing dubious half-assed specs like Web Components. Mozilla just fired everyone relevant2 to focus on crap no one asked for like Pocket, and fad nonsense like a paid VPN service and virtual reality tech.3 [2020-08-14: It has been pointed out that the VR team was also fired.]

Microsoft gave up entirely. Mozilla just hammered the last few nails into their casket.4 Safari is a joke5. Google is all that’s left, and they’re not a good steward of the open web. The browsers are drowning under their own scope. The web is dead.

I call for an immediate and indefinite suspension of the addition of new developer-facing APIs to web browsers. Browser vendors need to start thinking about reducing scope and cutting features. WebUSB, WebBluetooth, WebXR, WebDRM WebMPAA WebBootlicking replacing User-Agent with Vendor-Agent cause let’s be honest with ourselves at this point “Encrypted Media Extensions” — this crap all needs to go. At some point you need to stop adding scope and start focusing on performance, efficiency, reliability, and security6 at the scope you already have.

Enough is enough.


  1. No one wants AMP. Google knows it, you know it, I know it. If you’re a Google engineer who is still working on AMP, you are a disgrace to your field. Take responsibility for the code you write. This project needs to be dead and buried and the earth above salted, and it needs to happen yesterday. ↩︎

  2. No layoffs or pay cuts at the management level, of course! It’s not like they’re responsible for these problems, it’s not like anyone’s fucking responsible for any of this, it’s not like the very idea of personal responsibility has been forgotten by both executives and engineers, no sir! [2020-08-14: It has been pointed out that some VPs were laid off. I also wish to clarify that the personal responsibility I find absent at the engineering level is more of a commentary on Google than Mozilla.] ↩︎

  3. Oh good, the web is exactly what VR needs! It’s definitely not a huge time-sink requiring the highly skilled low-level engineering talent which Mozilla just finished laying off, or years of effort and millions of dollars just to realize that the new state of the art is still just an expensive and underwhelming product whose few end-user applications make half of their users motion sick. ↩︎

  4. Next time they should aim for their executive’s heads, maybe they’ll jostle them around enough to get the two wires in each of their heads to make contact so that they’re briefly capable of making basic decisions and not just collecting multi-million-dollar paychecks. ↩︎

  5. 2020-08-14: I haven’t used Safari in over 10 years, so maybe it’s not so bad. However, so long as it’s single-platform and closed source, it’s still a net negative on the ecosystem. ↩︎

  6. The web might be one for four on these right now. ↩︎

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