Decoded Chats – Monica Dinculescu on Web Components

monica dinculescu at smashingconf

Monica Dinculescu (@notwaldorf on Twitter) works on the Polymer team in Google and is an expert in emoji and how to make them appear correctly in browsers – or not.
She’s lately given an eye-opening talk at the HTML special day of CSSConf in Amsterdam where she showed the shortcomings of the input element when it comes to browser support (you can watch it at the end of this post if you want to). We’ve caught up with her for this whirlwind interview on Web Components, backwards compatibility of the web and sensible use of JavaScript. It was recorded live at SmashingConf in Freiburg, so there is quite a high amount of background noise. But the content is worth it – promised!

If you prefer to have an audio version, you can download it here (MP3, 30MB)

The interview was a whirlwind of information, but here are the questions we asked:

  1. You recently gave a talk where you criticise the INPUT element in almost painful detail. What’s the problem with it?
  2. HTML5 is 8 years old. Obviously a lot of what the spec promises in terms of form inputs is broken in implementation. How come we missed this?
  3. The promise of input is that it falls back to a text field in browsers that don’t support the “new” types, but that doesn’t seem to work, right?
  4. Whilst there are a lot of issues with “new” form elements, there were not many complaints to browser makers. Is the reason people using UI libraries instead?
  5. Web Components were the answer to a lot of these issues. But it seems that without libraries like Polymer, they are not usable, or are they?
  6. Originally the idea was to use the “is” attribute to extend existing HTML elements to become components. That’s a problem, right?
  7. When we created the first JavaScript helper libraries, we messed with native objects and extended them and that became an issue. Is this the same problem?
  8. Web Components excel in their modularity. This means, however that each of them have their own HTML,CSS and JS. Doesn’t that mean there is a lot of repetition and more code than needed?
  9. The first implementations of Polymer and other Web Components helper libraries didn’t perform as well as we’d like them to and required a lot of JavaScript. Has this improved?
  10. One of the criticisms of Web Components is that they are too powerful. People can hide a lot of functionality and code in a single element. Is that a problem?
  11. It is of course up to developers to chose the most performant and well-written component. But history showed us that people tend to prefer generic and pretty solutions. How can we prevent this?
  12. It is easy to blame the slowness of the web on the over-use of JavaScript, but isn’t it about taking on more responsibility as developers?
  13. Are we building too many things with the premise to impress each other rather than building things that are really usable by others?
  14. Is the confusion about Web Components seeing the web as a collection of components rather than documents that link to each other? Should we reconsider what the web is? Do new developers think in components?
  15. One old prejudice is that JavaScript is not accessible. It seems, however, that without JavaScript, a lot of web accessibilty isn’t even possible, right?
  16. Do we need more poster child applications that use Web Components in the wild? Who does?
  17. If you were to talk to a new developer who wants to start with the web, what are the things you have to know right now?
  18. How do we deal with legacy and backwards compatibility? Is this much less of an issue than we make it out to be?
  19. There seems to be a wrong perception that standards are a clean-cut and reliable thing, but even those have had a messy history, right?
  20. Has it become more complex to be a web developer? Does the idea of the extensible web manifesto make it harder to keep up?

If you are interested in seeing the talk we referenced here, you can check it out on Vimeo.

Monica Dinculescu | < INPUT > | HTML Special, CSS Day from Web Conferences Amsterdam on Vimeo.

One Comment

  1. Pingback: Decoded Chats – second edition featuring Monica Dinculescu on Web Components | Christian Heilmann

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