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posted by Fnord666 on Tuesday March 24 2020, @06:45AM   Printer-friendly
from the Safari?-Brave?-Opera? dept.

Software developer Drew DeVault has written a post at his blog about the reckless, infinite scope of today's web browsers. His conclusion is that, given decades of feature creep, it is now impossible to build a new web browser due to the obscene complexity of the web.

I conclude that it is impossible to build a new web browser. The complexity of the web is obscene. The creation of a new web browser would be comparable in effort to the Apollo program or the Manhattan project.

It is impossible to:

  • Implement the web correctly
  • Implement the web securely
  • Implement the web at all

Starting a bespoke browser engine with the intention of competing with Google or Mozilla is a fool's errand. The last serious attempt to make a new browser, Servo, has become one part incubator for Firefox refactoring, one part playground for bored Mozilla engineers to mess with technology no one wants, and zero parts viable modern web browser. But WebVR is cool, right? Right?

The consequences of this are obvious. Browsers are the most expensive piece of software a typical consumer computer runs. They're infamous for using all of your RAM, pinning CPU and I/O, draining your battery, etc. Web browsers are responsible for more than 8,000 CVEs.3

The browser duopoly of Firefox and Chrome/Chromium has clearly harmed the World-Wide Web. However, a closer look at the membership of the W3C committes also reveals representation by classic villains which, perhaps coincidentally, showed up around the time the problems noted by Drew began to grow.

An Open Letter to Web Developers (2020)
Google Now Bans Some Linux Web Browsers from their Services (2019)
HTML is the Web (2019)
The Future of Browsers (2019)
One Year Since the W3C Sold Out the Web with EME (2018)

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  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by driverless on Tuesday March 24 2020, @10:33AM (4 children)

    by driverless (4770) on Tuesday March 24 2020, @10:33AM (#974883)

    Problem is there are more or less essential web sites that are unusable without JS. Pretty much everything, utilities, banking, online shopping, pr0... uhh, news, all of it is encrusted with megabytes of JS that needs to run or you just get blank pages or an error message saying "Joo must use da Javascript or noooo web site for you, one year!". SoylentNews is one of the few regular-use sites I go to that works just fine without JS. Everything else, you need JS crap. There are stupid sites that could be done on a 3270 for which I can see all eight cores pegged at 100% for fifteen to thirty seconds just to load the page, but without that you can't use the web.

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  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 24 2020, @03:49PM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 24 2020, @03:49PM (#975036)

    How is that a problem? Don't frequent those sites.

    • (Score: -1, Flamebait) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 24 2020, @05:54PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 24 2020, @05:54PM (#975121)

      And he'd collect his benefits how, then?

      • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 24 2020, @08:38PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 24 2020, @08:38PM (#975188)

        Once-a-month problem solved, and the Chrome downloaded today will be far too old next month anyway.

  • (Score: 1) by Ron on Wednesday March 25 2020, @01:27PM

    by Ron (5774) on Wednesday March 25 2020, @01:27PM (#975442)

    I disagree 100%.
    My bank's web site works just fine with JS disabled. (it's a small, local bank. Say no to WF or BA or CB.)
    For news, well, I used to work in the Newspaper industry back before there even was a "web". We put ads right on the pages of the newspaper. I don't understand why modern-day "news" sites can't serve their own display ads instead of all the in-crap that's going on. Sure, I get it about the targeting and tracking and monitoring and measuring. The old joke about advertising was that 50% of your budget is wasted. The problem is that no one knew which 50%.

    And that's the way it should be. Look what all this targeting and tracking and monitoring and measuring capability did for our last election.

    So if a news site requires JS for me to read, I close the window and move on to something else. Like the old days. If I had to have a subscription to the paper edition of the NY Times, I probably didn't read that story either unless it was also covered in my home town paper.

    Utilities? I get a paper bill in the mail every month and pay it via my bank's non-JS capable web site. Easy-peasy.

    Shopping? I've been burned too many times with on-line scams. Mostly through Amazon. (used items sold as new, mis-measured, etc.) My local stores carry most everything I need or want, I can see the item, heft it, judge its quality, and I like the social interaction too (although on pause these days, and with a distance when it's necessary...) Rampant on-line shopping has amplified the consumerism in most people. It's not a good thing.

    Somehow, people survived and prospered in the days before "the web". Sure, it's a whole lot more convenient now, but convenience also comes with a price. Is it a price we're willing to pay? And maybe we should slow this bus down a bit and make sure the destination is somewhere we wanted to go.