Mink Machine

On vendor prefixes

There has been a lot of discussions lately in regard to vendor prefixes. It all began when some non-webkit browser representatives were considering support of the webkit prefix during a CSS Working Group meeting earlier this week.

This created heated responses from industry veterans such as Remy Sharp, Christian Heilmann, Bruce Lawson, Eric Meyer and many more. To quote Remy Sharp, “this is bat shit crazy”.

More than a decade ago the main browsers were Internet Explorer and Netscape. Someone got the idea to implement proprietary stuff in their browser due to competition and innovation, which unfortunately fueled the problem of “this site needs X to run”. The vendors continued to add proprietary features which made interoperability jump out the window. Fortunately this got addressed with the rise of web standards after the Browser Wars.

Bruce Lawson Bruce Lawson in London 2011.

But here we are again. The reason this time for implementing such a non-standard feature in the specification is the popularity of the webkit prefix, to some degree thanks to the rise in mobile browser usage. It seems to be increasingly common among mobile developers to use webkit properties only, which would hurt the users of non-webkit browsers.

I see no miracle fix to the problem on the horizon, but I’m sure the bright people will figure something out. Perhaps some vendors will remove support for the prefixed variants in the near future, but browser vendors are traditionally very reluctant to remove such things once they are being frequently used by the community.

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