The 6th Chrome Dev Summit 2018 is being hosted on the 12th and 13th of this month in San Francisco. Yesterday, Day 1 of the summit was opened by Ben Galbraith, the director of Chrome, to talk about “the web platform’s latest advancements and the evolving landscape.” Leading web developers described their modern web experiences as well.
Major Chrome Dev Summit 2018 announcements included web.dev, a new developer resource website, and a demonstration of VisBug, a browser-based visual development tool. The summit also included a demo of a new web tool called Squoosh that can downsize, compress, and reformat images.
The Chrome Dev Summit 2018 also highlighted some of the browser APIs currently in development, including Web Share Target, Wake Lock, WebHID and more. It also featured a Writable File API currently under development, which would allow web apps to edit local files.
New web-based tools and resources
The web.dev resource website provides an aggregation of information for modern Web APIs. It helps users monitor their sites over time to ensure that they can keep their site fast, resilient and accessible. web.dev is created in partnership with Glitch, and has a deep integration with Google’s Lighthouse tool.
Another developer tool VisBug helps developers easily edit a web page using a simple point-and-click and drag and drop interface. This is an improvement over Firebug, Google’s previous tool, which used the website’s source code. VisBug is currently available as a Chrome extension that can be installed from the main Chrome Web Store.
The Squoosh tool allows you to encode images using best-in-class codecs like MozJPEG, WebP, and OptiPNG. It works cross-browser and offline, and ALL codecs supported even in a browser with no native support using WASM. The app is able to do 1:1 visual comparison of the original image and its compressed counterpart, to help users understand the pros and cons of each format.
Closing the gap between web and native
Google is also taking initiatives to close the gap between the web and native and make it easy for developers to build great experiences on the open web. Regarding this, Chrome will work with other browser vendors to ensure interoperability and get early developer feedback. Proposals will be submitted to the W3C Web Incubator Community Group for feedback. According to Google, this open development process will be “no different than how we develop every other web platform feature.” The first initiative in this aspect is the writable files API.
The Writable Files API
Currently, under development, the writable files API is designed to increase the interoperability of web applications with native applications. Users can choose files or directories that a web app can interact with on the native file system. They don’t have to use a native wrapper like Electron to ship their web app. With the Writable Files API, users can create a simple, single file editor that opens a file, allows the user to edit it, and save the changes back to the same file.
People were surprised that it was Google who jumped on this process rather than Mozilla which has already implemented version of a lot of these APIs. A hacker news user said, “I guess maybe not having that skin in the game anymore prevented those APIs from becoming standardized? But these are also very useful for desktop applications. Anyways, this is a great initiative, it’s about time a real effort was made to close that gap.”