While web apps should find increased success in 2012, Lawson fears the year will also be one of fragmentation, replacing one group of proprietary systems (native apps) with another. “The spirit of co-operation between browser vendors will continue for the HTML5 spec, but not filter into other web stack specifications,” he says, sadly, noting that we’ve already seen Chrome-only apps. “A severe case of ‘not invented here’ can be seen in the 10 – yes, 10! – different app manifest formats invented by vendors instead of collaborating to make the W3C one better. This harms developers and, worse, lack of interoperability hurts consumers.”
Mozilla technical evangelist Rob Hawkes is optimistic that Boot to Gecko, Mozilla’s ‘operating system for the open web’ could boost the chances of web apps and “remove the reliance on proprietary single-vendor stacks for app development”. Initially focussed on mobile, it will implement a variety of Web APIs to access elements of mobile hardware.