Gilles Vandenoostende

Hi, I'm Gilles Vandenoostende - designer, illustrator and digital busybody with a love of language, based in Ghent, Belgium.

On Vendor Prefixes

Remy Sharp weighs in on the same issue as the post I linked to earlier:

We do like vendor prefixes. They give us access to bleeding edge CSS properties, and make our sites look cool. But there’s a serious problem: non-webkit vendors are giving serious consideration to implementing the -webkit prefix to a number of CSS properties.

This is bat shit crazy, but where the web has arrived to. This is one developer’s opinion, but you need to voice your opinion now, and if you’re agreement that this is madness, you need to act now. Make your voice hear, blog about it, tweet about it: make a lot of noise.

The entire point of vendor prefixes was to allow browsers to implement experimental features without breaking things. Since browsers are clever enough to ignore any CSS they don’t understand, it’s a clean, effective and safe way for front-end developers to focus on delivering modern, cutting-edge sites without compromising the site’s content or functionality for people using other browsers.

Provided the HTML of your site is 100% standards compliant you can feel safe adding certain effects using vendor prefixes, since it could never break browsers that do not support them*. It’s the embodiment of the progressive enhancement principle! You also have perfect granular control over  your styles: having different values is easy with prefixes, should there be any cross-browser issues. Compare and contrast that to all the havoc the box-model caused because one browser interpreted the standard a little differently from the rest…

By considering to support -webkit prefixes, Mozilla, Opera and Microsoft risk breaking the web. What if Internet Explorer’s implementation of -webkit-box-shadow causes problems, for example? Then we couldn’t use that feature anywhere anymore! Our options would be reduced to either:

  1. Sniffing the user’s browser or device to serve separate styles to each – BAD
  2. Figuring out new CSS Hacks, and turning our beautiful code into something resembling a Regular Expression – BAD
  3. Going back to only using stuff that’s 100% standard and universal – BORING

So, not good then. So what can be done to prevent this?

  1. Us web-developers have to take more care in implementing all prefixes, and not just the most popular ones, provided it makes sense for the project.
  2. The CSS Working Groups could speed things up and just standardize the stable parts of the spec. What’s the stable part? How about the part browser vendors are willing to implement, even at the cost of their own pride?


* And noone really cares about CSS validation, now do they?


Le monopole de fait d’un navigateur ou d’un moteur de rendu est nuisible au Web ouvert…

Il y a dix ans, les parts de marché d’Internet Explorer étaient écrasantes. Aujourd’hui, WebKit est un moteur de rendu particulièrement bien répandu….

Posted by Blog - Britoweb at February 9th, 2012 at 6:56 pm.

[…] Zahlreiche Webstandard-Aktivisten und Vordenker unterstützen Glazmans Aufruf – darunter Aaron Gustafsson und Rachel Andrew vom Web Standards Project, Mozilla-Evangelist Chris Heilmann, der Barrierefreiheit-Experte und Opera-Mitarbeiter Bruce Lawson, der Entwickler Remy Sharp oder der Designer Gilles Vandenoostende. […]

Posted by WebKit-Dominanz bedroht das offene Web | at February 10th, 2012 at 2:32 pm.

[…] Other folks in this this ain’t good crowd: Rachel Andrew, Bruce Lawson, and Gilles Vandenoostende. […]

Posted by TL;DR on Vendor Prefix Drama | Transition Timing at February 10th, 2012 at 6:42 pm.


Posted by Die Sache mit den vendor-prefixes « F-LOG-GE at February 10th, 2012 at 7:28 pm.

[…] Other folks in this this ain’t good crowd: Rachel Andrew, Bruce Lawson, and Gilles Vandenoostende. […]

Posted by TL;DR on Vendor Prefix Drama « JoinOG at February 14th, 2012 at 12:05 pm.

[…] Other folks in this this ain’t good crowd: Rachel Andrew, Bruce Lawson, and Gilles Vandenoostende. […]

Posted by TL;DR on Vendor Prefix Drama | StevenCodes at February 24th, 2012 at 7:06 am.

I think it’s important to validate your HTML am there’s no excuse for it to not be validated. CSS browser hacks are naughty and shouldn’t be used, but CSS3 and vendor prefixes are another story and something I use all the time. Theres a diff between bad coding practices, hacks, and advanced browser code…

Posted by Bet at May 31st, 2012 at 9:06 pm.

Remy Sharp says this is a bad idea because it affects the expectations of developers and will likely make us even lazier about prefixes.

Posted by 365 at July 6th, 2012 at 3:07 am.

Ten years ago, the market share of Internet Explorer were overwhelming. Today is a WebKit rendering engine particularly prevalent ….

Posted by bahis at November 27th, 2012 at 3:05 am.

[…] people aren’t going out of their way to support IE any more than they have to (see the whole prefix drama last […]

Posted by Opera’s adopting Webkit, and why Microsoft should follow their lead » Gilles Vandenoostende : My blog at February 13th, 2013 at 5:14 pm.

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