It’s Nice if HTML5 Showcases Work on All Modern Browsers, but Essential? No way.

Chris Heilmann says it’s a problem that HTML5 demos work only in certain environments:

The problem that a lot of HTML5 demos have right now though is that they only work in a certain environment. Showcase presentations like Paul Irish’s The State of HTML5: Inaugural Address even need more than one browser to work and Paul switches them during his talk. This is a feat of HTML5 right now – not everything works the same across browsers and you want to show off some of the cool things by sticking to one browser and others in another browser.

and mentioned Toby’s excellent 3d video showcase:

Whilst the original Tweet by Tobias stated that a Chrome Dev Channel build is needed as the browser to see the demo, retweets and others omitted that piece of information. This is bad. As you can see in the screencast above all I saw was broken implementations – even in Chrome. Only Safari showed it the way it was intended.

A few things:

  • I agree with Chris insofar as yes, it’s better and communicates the portability coolness factor of HTML5, if we can write demos that work across many browsers and devices.
  • Agile is good. It says you work lean and don’t do unnecessary work. The main point of a demo is to provoke imaginations and discussions. 80-20 rule…80% of its value is already served in one browser, but it could easily take twice as long to make it work across all the modern browsers. That’s a lot of work for the 20% of extra value derived by the demonstration of portability.
  • People are willing to suspend their imagination. With demos, it’s important to know when and how people suspend their imagination. If you stand there and blag through a Powerpoint presentation, the credibility of your underlying idea is zero or less. But on the other hand, if you show something in Firefox or Chrome, it uses standard HTML5 features which are already supported, or in the process of being supported by other browsers too, people can make the stretch.
  • It’s a good idea for showcase makers to publish which browsers the showcase is expected to support. And then let other browsers try it out anyway once the user understands it probably won’t work anyway. Such a declaration unburdens Tweeters and other sharers from always including disclaimers.
  • This is something that happens across the board. I’ve been incessantly showing in European events this past week, despite the fact it’s iPad-only. It’s just that damn new and shiny, I’m willing to overlook that detail. Likewise, I wish the various Moz round video demos worked in Chrome, but they don’t, but I’ve still talked about them.

BTW I was one of those who tweeted the demo, Chrome-only disclaimer missing and all. I’m also the guy who invited Toby and Uxebu to present in this session. I also have a Flip recording of the event which I’ll upload as soon as I’m in a comfortable wifi situation, i.e. in a couple more days.)

None of this says demos shouldn’t be portable. In the equivalent session at GDD Russia, we had a wonderful demo from Opera’s Vadeem Makeev. When I spoke to him in the lead-up to prepare the presentation, he told me we can just load it up and it will work in any browser. That’s the great thing about the web, and it’s excellent to have demos like this to point to, to show it really can work across all browsers. But should every 0.1 alpha edition showcase go that length? I don’t think so.

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