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Google’s Web Platform Baseline: Nice Try, But It’s Not Enough

Web Platform Baseline

The Internet is a fascinating, ever-evolving place. It’s also asynchronous, never fully in sync. People use different OS, devices and browsers, and you can never be sure that your new website actually works on every single device. But you can at least try. Google tried to help by announcing the Web Platform Baseline. But will it help?

Google’s Web Platform Baseline: Nice Try, But It’s Not Enough

There are three important web browsers to consider, each using different engines to display web content. Browsers are usually ahead of websites and get regular updates, with the exception of Safari.

But not everyone uses up-to-date browsers. What to do, then?

Well, it depends. Various factors come into play when determining the functionality of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript features. These include the browser market share of the intended audience, the significance of the feature for the website, and many other considerations.

You can manually check every feature, but it’s hard work. There must be easier ways to deal with older browsers — and Google might have the answer. Just recently, Google introduced the Web Platform Baseline, aimed at simplifying discussions and considerations around browser support for web authors and publishers. According to the official description, when features are supported in all major browsers’ current and previous versions, namely Chrome, Edge, Firefox, and Safari, they become integrated into Baseline.

The Baseline is fine, but overly simplistic

The Baseline serves as a reliable indicator of which web platform features are safe to use. It includes features with cross-browser support and interoperability without any significant issues in any browser engine.

Will it help? I am sure it won’t worsen the situation, but it’s too early to celebrate. When talking about browser support, we usually omit less-known browsers that still have millions of users. The latest and previous versions of widely-used browsers consistently support a particular feature, as confirmed by the baseline. However, the oversimplification of the problem has left out crucial details.

UC Browser, a mobile browser developed by Chinese mobile Internet company UCWeb and owned by Alibaba Group, is a browser many users may not be familiar with. However, it boasts a significant user base, with 430 million monthly active users globally as of December 2021, according to Statista. That’s a lot of users left unaccounted for.

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