I was present at the Edge conference on 27 June in London, UK, representing the HTML5Apps project. That conference, organized by FT Labs for the past 5 years, targets discussion and debate of leading-edge use of client-side Web technologies. It aims at being very participative in its nature, and was organized this year around a set of panels in the morning and breakouts in the afternoon.
About 180 developers attended the conference, including renowned developers, technical evangelists and standards advocates.
The context of the conference (“leading edge”) and its attendees made it indeed a great place for conversations and interactions. Specifically, I had good discussions related to:
- Interest and adoption around some of the arrival in mobile browsers, esp. push notifications, installable Web app (via manifest) and offline via ServiceWorker. In particular, these technologies seem to open up to great “conversion rates” of installing Web apps via a manifest compared to the native installation workflow enabled by traditional banners — the notion that installing a Web app is a much smoother and less intrusive action seems to have teeth.
- Publishers think that the Web remains a critical part of the traffic they get on mobile, and that the notion of progressive apps coined by Alex Russell matches well with the experience these publishers are facing with native.
On the organized sessions of the conference themselves, I attended/participated to:
- The panel on security, with good conversations on the needs and issues of adopting a higher base-level security (with HTTPs and CSP);
- The panel on front-end data, which illustrated some of the tensions between providing the right low-level primitives (in this case indexedDB) and providing an easy-to-use API;
- The “installable web apps” breakout, which was a really good discussion on the model enabled by App Manifest, as well as some of the questions that remain open about it: Chrome chose to make “installing” something offered to the user under some conditions (serviceworker, repeated usage, responsiveness), where Opera is investigating surfacing that option more visibly in the UI; can these appmanifests help surface mobile Web apps in native stores (where users have been trained to look for content and services)? “Installing” a Web app is really “adding it to homescreen”, but that means they remain a 2nd class citizen in a number of ways (integration in app lists, integration in app settings, etc). This was my preferred session of the day;
- A breakout on network operators where the Natasha Rooney from GSMA was looking for input and feedback on how developers see operators could be useful to their goals, with a lot of discussion similar to the topics in the Web & Mobile Interest Group networking task force.
Overall, this developer conference was a success and the project’s team is looking forward to the next edition!