I have a goal of building the worlds simplest screen recording software and I’ve been slowly noodling around on the project for the last couple of months (I mean really slowly). In previous posts I had got the screen recording and a voice overlay by futzing about with the streams from all the input sources. One area of frustration though was that I could not work out how to get the audio from the desktop and overlay the audio from the speaker.
I had a little down time after Google IO and I wanted to scratch a long-term itch I’ve had. I just want to be able to copy text that is held inside images in the browser. That is all. I think it would be a neat feature for everyone. It’s not easy to add functionality directly into Chrome, but I know I can take advantage of the intent system on Android and I can now do that with the Web (or at least Chrome on Android).
Big updates for the latest Safari! I thought that this was a pretty huge announcement, and the opposite of Google which a while ago said that Google Pay Lib is the recommend way to implement payments… I mean, it’s not a million miles away, Google Pay is built on top of Payment Request, but it’s not PR first. Payment Request is now the recommended way to pay implement Apple Pay on the web.
Years ago, I did some research into how native applications responded to a lack of network connectivity. Whilst I’ve lost the link to the analysis (I could swear it was on Google+), the overarching narrative was that many native applications are inextricably tied to the internet that they just straight up refuse to function. Sounds like a lot of web apps, the thing that set them apart from the web though is that the experience was still ‘on-brand’, Bart Simpson would tell you that you need to be online (for example), and yet for the vast majority of web experiences you get a ‘Dino’ (see chrome://dino).
I’ve updated by Hugo based editor to try and use EditorJS as, well, the editor for the blog. Workspace in classic editors is made of a single contenteditable element, used to create different HTML markups. Editor.js workspace consists of separate Blocks: paragraphs, headings, images, lists, quotes, etc. Each of them is an independent contenteditable element (or more complex structure) provided by Plugin and united by Editor’s Core. Read full post.
I was on the flight to Delhi this last week and I wanted to be able to debug my KaiOS device with Chrome OS - I never quite got to the level that I needed for a number of reasons (port forwarding didn’t work - more on that in another post), but I did get to build a simple tool that really helps me build for the web on Android based devices.
We’ve been doing a lot of development on feature phones recently and it’s been hard, but fun. The hardest bit is that on KaiOS we found it impossible to debug web pages, especially on the hardware that we had (The Nokia 8110). The Nokia is a great device, it’s built with KaiOS which we know is based on something akin to Firefox 48, but it’s locked down, there is no traditional developer mode like you get on other Android devices, which means you can’t connect Firefox’s WebIDE easily.
I’ve been playing around a lot with the Shape Detection API in Chrome a lot and I really like the potential it has, for example a very simple QRCode detector I wrote a long time ago has a JS polyfill, but uses new BarcodeDetector() API if it is available. You can see some of the other demo’s I’ve built here using the other capabilities of the shape detection API: Face Detection,Barcode Detection and Text Detection.
I saw a tweet by a good chum and colleague, Mariko, about testing on a range of low end devices keeping you really grounded. The context of the tweet is that we are looking at what Web Development is like when building for users who live daily on these classes of devices. The team is doing a lot of work now in this space, but I spent a day build a site and it was incredibly hard to make anything work at a even slightly reasonable level of performances - here are some of the problems that I ran into:
I was just reflecting on some of the work our team has done and I found a project from 2017 that Robert Nyman and Eric Bidelman created. Browser Bug Searcher!. It’s incredible that with just a few key presses you have a great overview of your favourite features across all the major browser engines. Source code available. This actually highlights one of the issues that I have with crbug and webkit bug trackers, they don’t have a simple way to get feeds of data in formats like RSS.
I was looking for a quick markdown editor on https://www.webcomponents.org/ so that I can make posting to this blog easier and I stumbled across a neat set of components by github. I knew that they had the <time-element> but I didn’t know they had a such a nice and simple set of useful elements.
Looks kinda nice today.
The way we (as an industry) implement GDPR consent is a mess. I’m not sure why anyone would choose anything other than ‘Use necessary cookies only’, however I really can’t tell the difference between either option and the trade-off of either choice, not to mention I can verify that it is only using necessary cookies only.
History will judge us all on this mess, and I hope it will be a case study for all on the effects of nationalism, self-interests, colonial-hubris, celebrity-bafoonery. Fuckers.
Ricky Mondello over on the Safari team just recently shared a note about how Twitter is using the ./well-known/change-password spec. I just noticed that Twitter has adopted the Well-Known URL for Changing Passwords! Is anyone aware of other sites that have adopted it? Twitter’s implementation: https://twitter.com/.well-known/change-password; Github’s: https://github.com/.well-known/change-password; Specification :https://github.com/WICG/change-password-url Read full post. The feature completely passed me by but it is a neat idea: given a file in a well-known location, can the browser offer a UI to the user that allows them to quickly reset their password without having to navigate the sites complex UI.
Jake and the team built this rather awesome custom element for managing pinch zooming on any set of HTML outside of the browser’s own pinch-zoom dynamics (think mobile viewport zooming). The element was one of the central components that we needed for the squoosh app that we built and released at Chrome Dev Summit (… I say ‘released at Chrome Dev Summit’ - Jake was showing it to everyone at the China Google Developer Day even though the rest of the team were under embargo ;) … )
Pete LePage introduces the Web Share Target API and the the availability in Chrome via an origin trial Until now, only native apps could register as a share target. The Web Share Target API allows installed web apps to register with the underlying OS as a share target to receive shared content from either the Web Share API or system events, like the OS-level share button. Read full post.
A great article and video and sample by Thomas Steiner on good push notifications on the web. A particularly bad practice is to pop up the permission dialog on page load, without any context at all. Several high traffic sites have been caught doing this. To subscribe people to push notifications, you use the the PushManager interface. Now to be fair, this does not allow the developer to specify the context or the to-be-expected frequency of notifications.
Kayce Basques, an awesome tech writer on our team wrote up a pretty amazing article about his experiences measuring how well existing documentation best-practices work for explaining technical material. Best practices in this sense can be well-known industry standards for technical writing, or it could be your own companies writing style guide. Check it out! Recently I discovered that a supposed documentation “best practice” may not actually stand up to scrutiny when measured in the wild.
Jason did an amazing talk about a little-known but new area of the web platform ‘Feature Policy’. Feature Policy is a new primitive which allows developers to selectively enable, disable, and modify the behaviour of certain APIs and features in the browser. It’s like CSP, but for features & APIs! Teams can use new tools like Feature Policy and the Reporting API to catch errors before they grow out of control, ensure site performance stays high, keep code quality healthy, and help avoid the web’s biggest footguns.
Some awesome photos from this years Chrome Dev Summit I love this event ;) Read full post. I am like Wally - if you can find me, you get a sticker.
I am so excited! Tomorrow is the 6th Chrome Dev Summit and it’s all coming together. Join us at the 6th Chrome Dev Summit to engage with Chrome engineers and leading web developers for a two-day exploration of modern web experiences. We’ll be diving deep into what it means to build a fast, high quality web experience using modern web technologies and best practices, as well as looking at the new and exciting capabilities coming to the web platform.
I was in China a couple of weeks ago for the Google Developer Day and I was showing everyone my QRCode scanner, it was working great until I went offline. When the user was offline (or partially connected) the camera wouldn’t start, which meant that you couldn’t snap QR codes. It took me an age to work out what was happening, and it turns out I was mistakenly starting the camera in my onload event and the Google Analytics request would hang and not resolve in a timely manner.
At the weekend I was playing around with a Boomerang effect video encoder, you can kinda get it working in near real-time (I’ll explain later). I got it working on Chrome on Desktop, but it would never work properly on Chrome on Android. See the code here. It looks like when you use captureStream() on a <canvas> that has a relatively large resolution (1280x720 in my case) the MediaRecorder API won’t be able to encode the videos and it won’t error and you can’t detect that it can’t encode the video ahead of time.
A nice post about PWA from Mike Elgan. I am not sure about Microsoft’s goal with PWA, but I think our’s is pretty simple: we want users to have access to content and functionality instantly and in a way they expect to be able to interact with it on their devices. The web should reach everyone across every connected device and a user should be able to access in their preferred modality, as an app if that’s how they expect it (mobile, maybe), or voice on an assistant etc.
The first issue I have found trying to build a video editor on the web. I have multiple video streams (desktop and web cam) and I wanted to be able to toggle between the video streams on one video element so that I can quickly switch between the web cam and the desktop and not break the MediaRecorder. It looks like you should be able to do it via toggling the selected property on the videoTracks object on the <video> element, but you can’t, the array of tracks contains only 1 element (the first video track on the MediaStream).
I’m a big fan of QRCodes, they are very simple and neat way to exchange data between the real world and the digital world. For a few years now I’ve had a little side project called QRSnapper — well it’s had a few names, but this is the one I’ve settled on — that uses the getUserMedia API to take live data from the user’s camera so that it can scan for QR Codes in near real time.
I love FFMPEG.js, it’s a neat tool that is compiled with asm.js`and it let’s me build JS web apps that can quickly edit videos. FFMPEG.js also works with web workers so that you can encode videos without blocking the main thread. I also love Comlink. Comlink let’s me easily interact with web workers by exposing functions and classes without having to deal with a complex postMessage state machine. I recently got to combine the two together.
I recently returned from a trip to India to attend the Google4India event (report soon) and to meet with a lot of businesses and developers. One of the most interesting changes discussed was the push for more content in the language of the users in the country, and it was particularly apparent across all of Google’s products which ranged from making it easier to search in the users language, to find content, and also to read it back to users in either text or voice form.
Remember when Web Apps were a recommended way to use apps on the iPhone? What are web apps? Learn what they are and how to use them. Read full post. In about 2013 Apple started to redirect the /webapps/ top-level directory to /iphone/ The thing is, the directory was actually pretty good, a lot of the apps in there still work today. However looking at the AppStore it solved a lot more problems that developers had: Better discovery and search specifically because the AppStore was directly on the device.
We use Google Chat internally a lot to communicate across our team - it’s kinda like our slack; We also create a lot of content that is accessible via RSS feeds, we even have a team feed that you can all view. It wasn’t until recently that I found out that it was pretty easy to create a simple post-only bot via WebHooks and that gave me the idea, I can create a simple service that polls RSS feeds and then sends them to our webhook that can post directly in to our team chat.
Ruth John moved to Chrome OS (temporarily): The first thing, and possibly the thing with the least amount of up to date information out there, was enabling Crostini. This runs Linux in a container on the Chromebook, something you pretty much want straight away after spending 15 minutes on it. I have the most recent Pixel, the 256GB version. Here’s what you do. Go to settings. Click on the hamburger menu (top left) - right at the bottom it says ‘About Chrome OS’ Open this and there’s an option to put your machine into dev mode It’ll restart and you’ll be in dev mode - this is much like running Canary over Chrome and possibly turning on a couple of flags.
Mustafa writes: Tooling is complicated, we are a tooling focused industry, and they change so much. I have used maybe rough eight different tools, from Photoshop to Sketch. That’s before we add prototyping tools to the mix. This may be something we just have to accept. After all, type standards only really started to settle in the 90s, and typography is a 500-year-old discipline. Designers are still finding it difficult to prove the importance of the process.
Philip Walton has an awesome deep dive into a new API the Chrome team has been working on to give you (the developer) control over how to respond when the browser unloads your tabs. Application lifecycle is a key way that modern operating systems manage resources. On Android, iOS, and recent Windows versions, apps can be started and stopped at any time by the OS. This allows these platforms to streamline and reallocate resources where they best benefit the user.
Pete LePage writes about important changes to Add to Homescreen in Chrome Add to Home Screen changes If your site meets the add to home screen criteria, Chrome will no longer show the add to home screen banner. Instead, you’re in control over when and how to prompt the user. To prompt the user, listen for the beforeinstallprompt event, then, save the event and add a button or other UI element to your app to indicate it can be installed.
A great overview of Pinterest’s PWA The verdict Now for the part you’ve all been waiting for: the numbers. Weekly active users on mobile web have increased 103 percent year-over-year overall, with a 156 percent increase in Brazil and 312 percent increase in India. On the engagement side, session length increased by 296 percent, the number of Pins seen increased by 401 percent and people were 295 percent more likely to save a Pin to a board.
Sam Thorogood from our team writes: You’ve designed a webapp, built its code and service worker, and finally added the Web App Manifest to describe how it should behave when ‘installed’ on a user’s device. This includes things like high-resolution icons to use for e.g. a mobile phone’s launcher or app switcher, or how your webapp should start when opened from the user’s home screen. And while many browsers will respect the Web App Manifest, not every browser will load or respect every value you specify.