Becoming a better Pacesetter for Web Developers in 2019

Roger Bannister breaking the 4 minute mile barrier

When you work on a platform, you quickly feel how you are one part of the overall ecosystem. The Web is a huge ecosystem with diversity galore. Web standards, multiple browsers, a huge number and variety of devices, a plethora of tools and services available. It can be quite overwhelming at times!

Over the holiday break, I was naturally noodling on our role, and how to help improve the Web. As is cliche for this time of year, I jumped aggressively into the desire for healthy habits, and went on (short!) daily runs, often with my dog, or 9 year old son. When running with Josh, I started to think about the role of a Pacesetter:

“A runner who leads a distance running event to ensure a fast time and avoid excessive tactical racing.”

I want 2019 to be a year in which we will run to where the Web community is today, and do all we can to train to get in shape for where we all need to be.

We want developers to be successful on the Web by shipping great experiences for our (collective) users. Part of this success revolves around us setting up the environment (the meet) to have as many users available as possible, setting up the rules of the game, and helping developers train and get better.

The Goldilocks Pacesetter

What does it take to be a good pacesetter? You need to make sure that you aren’t on either end of these extremes:

  • If you are too far ahead of the runner then you are no longer making pace for them. They can’t reasonably keep up, and thus you may as well not exist and they will go back to their natural pace.
  • If you are running alongside them, even cheering them along as you do so, you are also not doing your job, and they won’t improve as much as they could.
  • If you win the race you are not doing your job, you need the runners to trust that you are going to do the job you agreed: to make the race fast and competitive and let the racers race.

We need a balance, pushing the pace in a way that is achievable, yet naturally will contain stress (in a good “the only way to improve” way).

How are we reaching developers where they are today?

At Chrome Dev Summit, we shared how we understand that we partner with frameworks, to deliver the surface area that developers use to program for the Web, and how we want to work closely with them:

  1. Include frameworks in the Chrome Intent to Implement process
  2. $200,000 of funding for improving performance best practices in frameworks.
  3. Increased collaboration with frameworks from the Chrome team.

We also know that we need bring the APIs that you need, to make the Web more capable, allowing you to bring your best experiences to the Web. This also includes enhancements to the UI toolkit of the Web, allowing you to build rich, fluid, UI.

We all know there is work to be done there, but we also have more tools available to deliver high quality UIs than ever before. The stack is changing. Salesforce posted on the change they have seen between 2014 and today, and how it enables them to take a very different approach using Web Components. This standard, shared API, gives us interoperability across frameworks. They can invest in fast, accessible, <killer-components>, that work with all. These components could even progressively change under the hood, allowing features such as various Worklets, and a scheduler to improve the experience.

Where do we need to be?

If we work together, we can break the four minute mile equivalent for the Web, which is delivering an instant, responsive, jank-free experience for our users.

There are many types of Web applications, with a variety of trade offs. A tool such as Squoosh is a different beast compared to a content site, or an e-commerce store. We want to deliver a platform that can work well for the variety of use cases we see on the Web, and collectively learn from each other on patterns to build such experiences.

Now we have a challenging goal, it’s time to jump into the New Year, and put in the work to achieve it!

p.s. As always, I am always very interested to hear your thoughts on what you need from the Web platform and ecosystem, and what you would want from a Pacesetter!

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