First, let me state that I semi-agree with the sentiment that “vendor prefixes are hurting the web” though I’ve yet to form a more solid opinion—a situation that’s recently been made worse in the wake of news that Opera will introduce support for WebKit CSS prefixes. The argument for this support is that, allegedly, several “lazy” web developers are rampantly using only WebKit CSS prefixes (minus even unprefixed versions!), which renders some content ugly and/or unreadable on non-WebKit browsers, which could in turn make it seem like those browsers don’t work as well as WebKit browsers.
So, let me get this straight, the lazy practices of what are essentially sloppy coders are determining browser feature development? Bring on the zombie apocalypse.
I would like to thank Ian Devlin for coining the term WOD or WebKit Only Developer. I didn’t have a simple means of referring to these folks prior to reading his blog post and he’s encapsulated the defining phrase and off-sounding anagram (nickname) beautifully, IMHO.
All humor aside, I wonder if the apparent issue of WODs isn’t more of a “class” issue, for lack of a better term. As someone who used to be a devout Apple enthusiast (more like separatist), I rarely cared what happened outside of that sphere since I knew in my heart that I was on the “right” side of any platform debate. Fortunately, that was back before Apple was a significant player in the browser space, so my superior attitude was a non-issue with regards to web development.
Nowadays, a web designer/developer who is also a Mac OS—and likely iOS—user can conceivably live in a purely Apple environment without even realizing (or caring) that there are other desktop browsers much less mobile ones than what come pre-installed on their aluminum devices. Devlin’s characterization of WODs as lazy is rather polite, but I’d say that both the spirit of what they do and the effect they have on the web is plain uncaring.
Again, my use of the term “class” in this case is iffy since it implies some form of economic disparity between one group and another. Perhaps it’s debatable whether Apple users have a higher standard of living than non-Apple users, but that’s mostly beside my point.
Consider the reality that Apple is the new 400lb. gorilla. Its growing market share on desktop and dominance on mobile has allowed it to throw its weight around a bit and web standards have not been immune to this behavior. Combine that with the superiority complex that often accompanies ones acquisition of a Mac OS or iOS device and it’s less of a stretch to apply the term “class” to this scenario.
So then what’s my point about a so-called “uncaring class” that uses only WebKit CSS prefixes? Oh, right. My point is that some developers who work within a highly popular and seemingly ubiquitous ecosystem could be at risk of forgetting the “other half” exists or even matters, especially when that ecosystem is unilaterally churning out marketer-approved bells and whistles that are being applied willy-nilly to sites all over the web (this one notwithstanding).
I routinely receive pre-coded files from clients (who are apparently WODs) that either don’t validate or simply look like do-do on any other browser because they have only been “tested” on Mac OS Safari 5. You tell me, is this behavior lazy or uncaring? I literally had a designer client of mine once ask me, incredulously, after I suggested he do browser testing “does anyone still use Internet Explorer anymore?!?” Literally.
And I must wonder, if WODs are ignoring other browser vendors, does that include JAWS screen readers, too? Again, lazy or uncaring?
Well, thanks to Opera’s recent cave-in, history may or may not prove whether vendor prefixes—specifically those of the WebKit variety—ultimately hurt the web. What is certain is that users of WebKit browsers won’t likely have noticed.