Submissions/Tales from the Trenches: Battling Browser Bugs for "Fun" and (Non-)Profit

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After careful consideration, the Programme Committee has decided not to accept the below submission at this time. Thank you to the author(s) for participating in the Wikimania 2014 programme submission, we hope to still see you at Wikimania this August.

Submission no. 5044
Title of the submission
Tales from the Trenches: Battling Browser Bugs for "Fun" and (Non-)Profit
Type of submission (discussion, hot seat, panel, presentation, tutorial, workshop)
Author of the submission
Roan Kattouw
E-mail address
Country of origin
Affiliation, if any (organisation, company etc.)
Wikimedia Foundation
Personal homepage or blog
Abstract (at least 300 words to describe your proposal)
Back in the old days, web development was hard. Code written for one browser wouldn’t work in another. In order to write a web application that would work in multiple browsers, you would write it and debug it one one browser, test it in another browser, find it doesn’t work, and rewrite half your code for the other browser. If you didn’t have time to do most of the work twice, you would decide to only support one browser. And back then, that “one browser” was almost always IE6.
But it’s 2014 now, the web is standardized better than ever, standards are actually being adopted, and even Internet Explorer is (slowly) getting better. The youngest generation of web developers grew up with libraries like jQuery that paper over the few remaining differences between browsers. They don’t even know how bad it was. The dark age of web development is over.
Or is it?
For your average run-off-the-mill web development needs, this is definitely true. Thanks in no small part to jQuery and other libraries, building simple to moderately complex things on the web is easier than ever. But once you start doing increasingly complex things and stretching the limits of what browsers were designed to do, you find that underneath the nice-looking layers, browsers are still as unreliable and inconsistent as they ever were.
This presentation tells the stories of our experiences deep in the trenches of browser warfare while we worked on building VisualEditor, a next-generation editor for wiki pages. I will talk about ridiculous bugs that we discovered in modern browsers as recently as this year, crazy things we had to do to work around them, and drawn-out sagas of uphill battles to beat browsers into submission until we finally got new features working.
This is a technical presentation, but a technical background is not required; someone with no web development experience and only passing familiarity with web terminology should be able to understand at least half of the content.

Technology, Interface & Infrastructure
Length of session (if other than 30 minutes, specify how long)
30 minutes
Will you attend Wikimania if your submission is not accepted?
Slides or further information (optional)
Special requests

Interested attendees

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  1. the wub "?!" 23:45, 13 April 2014 (UTC)
  2. Elitre (talk) 13:18, 20 April 2014 (UTC)
  3. Rillke (talk) 21:53, 13 May 2014 (UTC)
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