back to article Without any apparent irony, Google marks Chrome's 'small' role in web ecosystem

At the Chrome Developer Summit on Monday, Google finally settled the tabs vs. spaces debate and celebrated web community diversity, now at risk of becoming a monoculture thanks to Chrome's market dominance. "Chrome is here today, and every day, to show up as one small member of this much, much bigger community," said Anil …

  1. Empire of the Pussycat
    Joke

    "spaces won with 51 per cent of the vote"

    spacers are just as misguided as leavers, though not quite as prolific

    1. A K Stiles Silver badge
      Childcatcher

      Re: "spaces won with 51 per cent of the vote"

      Spaces seem like a reasonable solution, but tabs can show customised widths for each user in the same piece of code (with a semi-decent IDE), so everyone can see the indentation level they like without adversely affecting anyone else. (Why would you use 7 spaces? Why?!)

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: "spaces won with 51 per cent of the vote"

        Back in roughly 1975, one of my Big Iron mentors had a bumper-sticker:

        Tabs are for typewriters!

        A woman from the typing pool who much preferred Fresca to Tab took exception to the comment, so he offered to buy her lunch in compensation for the perceived slight. They are still married.

        A few years later, another mentor opined "Feelthy TABs are the devil's work, unless you are using them on your Smith Corona".

        Personally, I prefer spaces, but I'll use tabs where required. When in Rome & all that.

        1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

          Re: "spaces won with 51 per cent of the vote"

          Spaces to indent, tabs to align comments. :)

        2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: "spaces won with 51 per cent of the vote"

          Personally, I prefer spaces

          In the Bad Old Days (when I had pretensions to being an IBM TPF programmer) using tabs was a Very Bad Thing.. the assembler was very column-specific and really, really didn't like tab characters. It's really annoying when it ignores a big chunk of your code because the lines don't start in the right palce (even though they look OK on the screen).

          One of the many, many reasons why I switched to doing PC/server/networking support.

      2. TeeCee Gold badge
        Facepalm

        Re: "spaces won with 51 per cent of the vote"

        Same reason lusers treat Word Processors as if they were typewriters (no use of styles, layout or pagination).

        Ignorance and Luddism.

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: "spaces won with 51 per cent of the vote"

          Luddism in my case. I learned to type on a typewriter. A massive old Imperial thing, where you had to bash your little finger down by about an inch to get the A key to work.

          The thing is, I learned by rote. juja[space]juja[space] for a whole line. Then move on to the next combination of home key and soemthing with the other hand then spacebar. Tab to get to the right place to put in my address on the top right of a letter, and always hitting spacebar twice after a full stop at the end of a sentence. And I still do it now.

          I can format a letter properly, and have created templates for documents that get used a lot. But if I'm bashing something out quickly on the keyboard, I can have hit tab repeatedly and typed in an address - faster than taking my hands off the keyboard and reaching for the mouse to press the right buttons to align the text.

          I'm sure this is because I wasn't taught how to use word processors, otherwise I'd know all the shortcut keys and that would probably be as quick as doing it the old fashioned way.

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: "spaces won with 51 per cent of the vote"

            Creating "documents" (and their templates), and typing in addresses is a different sport than coding. I'll concede that tabs still have a place in such menial office work. But never in coding, unless the language demands it ... in which case, to date I have seen no real need for that language beyond being a learning tool for the author(s) of the language.

      3. jake Silver badge

        Re: "spaces won with 51 per cent of the vote"

        "(Why would you use 7 spaces? Why?!)"

        I wouldn't. I'd use four, or occasionally however many it takes to get to the next tab stop. All inserted automagically by my editor of choice when I hit the TAB key.

        Why would you prefer to see an indentation level not intended by the author? I honestly see no benefit.

        1. Dr. Mouse Silver badge

          Re: "spaces won with 51 per cent of the vote"

          "Why would you prefer to see an indentation level not intended by the author? I honestly see no benefit."

          Indentation is more for readability than anything else*, and readability is a subjective quality. Some will find 2 spaces more readable, some will find 4 spaces better, some may prefer 7.

          This is why I find tabs a better solution: They can be customised to personal preference without altering the file. It's also more space efficient, taking 1 character instead of 2+ per indent level per line.

          That said, most clients I work with have specific code style rules, and it's no great hardship to put up with their choice.

          * I do assume this is in a proper programming language, not a new-fangled "indentation is part of the code" abomination...

        2. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Headmaster

          Re: "spaces won with 51 per cent of the vote"

          two spaces, no hard tabs. that's usually established in any coding guidelines *I* write.

          1. JohnFen Silver badge

            Re: "spaces won with 51 per cent of the vote"

            If I worked at a company that had that style rule, I'd conform to it. But I'd also whine incessantly about it, because that's hard to read.

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: "spaces won with 51 per cent of the vote"

              Not two. Four. Nice compromise.

              Next argument: K&R, BSD KNF, 1TBS, Allman, GNU, or Whitesmiths?

              1. JohnFen Silver badge
                Devil

                Re: "spaces won with 51 per cent of the vote"

                K&R all the way!

                Unless you agree, then I'll have to pick a different style.

                1. jake Silver badge
                  Pint

                  Re: "spaces won with 51 per cent of the vote"

                  Start picking. Or not. Far be it from me & etc.

                  I've been using K&R (with the four-space option) for about 40 years now ... with occasional lapses into other styles, depending on local preferences, of course.

                  It's friday, and it's bound to be 5 o'clock somewhere. This round's on me.

        3. JohnFen Silver badge

          Re: "spaces won with 51 per cent of the vote"

          "Why would you prefer to see an indentation level not intended by the author? I honestly see no benefit."

          The benefit is readability. Your choice of the most readable amount of indentation level is not necessarily the best for others.

      4. MacroRodent Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: "spaces won with 51 per cent of the vote"

        > but tabs can show customised widths for each user in the same piece of code

        THIS is precisely why indenting with tabs cannot be done any more. Some idiot IDE makers made them 4 steps by default, with the result the code looks awful if viewed with an editor that expands tabs in the standard way by 8 steps, or viewed on a terminal, or printed.

        I used to indent with a smart mix of tabs and spaces (Emacs supports this naturally), but had to stop because of those IDE:s.

        Standardising on indentation by spaces is now the only working option when you have to work with several developers, using different editors. Some projects I work on actually use hooks that reject merging code if source contains tabs.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: "spaces won with 51 per cent of the vote"

          "expands tabs in the standard way by 8 steps"

          That's not what TABS were invented for. In the first place, it's not steps, it's stops. And they are a variable width across the page, by definition. The first TAB stop might be four spaces, the next might be another four, or it might be five. Or eight. And the next might be three. Etc.

          1. MacroRodent Silver badge

            Re: "spaces won with 51 per cent of the vote"

            > And they are a variable width across the page, by definition

            Yes, that is how it works in typewriters and word processors, but on text terminals and printers the standard expansion has always been 8 stops.

      5. boltar Silver badge

        Re: "spaces won with 51 per cent of the vote"

        "(with a semi-decent IDE)"

        You don't even need an IDE. set ts=<width> in vi(m).

        People who don't use tabs as indentation don't understand what they're for. And not that it matters much now, but back in the day using tabs in source code saved a shed load of disk space.

        However once a piece of code is written LEAVE THE INDENTATION ALONE. Do not do what a former idiot pointy head I worked with did and convert all tabs in some code to spaces then check it back in to version control because he thought it looked better. Great - except diffing his and subsequent versions of the code against previous ones brought up almost every f*cking line!

        1. JohnFen Silver badge

          Re: "spaces won with 51 per cent of the vote"

          > Great - except diffing his and subsequent versions of the code against previous ones brought up almost every f*cking line!

          Every diff program that I've ever used has an option to ignore whitespace.

        2. jake Silver badge

          Re: "spaces won with 51 per cent of the vote"

          But, but, but ... I thought Vim was an IDE!

          It is the way I use it, anyway ...

      6. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: "spaces won with 51 per cent of the vote"

        I agree -- I very much prefer tabs for this exact reason.

        However, in practice, most of the code I work with has been touched by numerous other developers, and regardless of stated style guidelines of a given company, some of those devs will be using spaces and some will be using tabs. Converting spaces to tabs is an error-prone and often time-consuming process. So, I'm resigned to this simply continuing to be a mess in the real world.

        Me? I use whichever method the code I'm immediately working on already uses. Spaces are problematic, but not as problematic as mixing them with tabs in the same source file.

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: "spaces won with 51 per cent of the vote"

      I prefer spaces MAINLY so that no matter what editor or viewer I load, from less and vi to pluma and IntelliJ, my indents remain CONSISTENT in the manner in which they display and, well, indent.

      If you wanna "save that byte", consider how cheap storage is, and how EXPENSIVE time and effort are, and the impact of "poor or inconsistent readability" on your time/effort.

      1. Unep Eurobats
        Boffin

        Re: "spaces won with 51 per cent of the vote"

        I was reminded of bikeshedding the other day, coincidentally after plunging down a rabbit hole from another Reg comment thread: it's the tendency to concentrate disproportionately on the trivial.

        1. JohnFen Silver badge

          Re: "spaces won with 51 per cent of the vote"

          Yes, but (at least in the dev world), bikeshedding is usually more a form of recreational combat than a real argument. Everyone knows these are trivial issues of minimal importance. That's part of what makes them safe to fight about.

          On the other hand, in terms of pain points, the low-grade but constant irritations are often a bigger problem than the occasional crisis.

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: "spaces won with 51 per cent of the vote"

            It's not bikeshedding. It's good-natured ribbing about accidents of history.

          2. Dr. Mouse Silver badge

            Re: "spaces won with 51 per cent of the vote"

            more a form of recreational combat than a real argument

            Yep, I always find it fun to poke the devs at a new place with the tabs/spaces argument. As soon as I am sure it will be taken the right way, I'll kick that off on one of the dev chats and everyone will have a good natured argument. This will often continue, on and off, for days (or weeks, or months) and can be re-triggered at any time for more hilarity.

            I've never known anyone to take it seriously.

            1. JohnFen Silver badge

              Re: "spaces won with 51 per cent of the vote"

              I still remember the day I realized that I was a graybeard. It was when I tried to start up the classic vi vs emacs war and nobody knew what the hell I was talking about.

              1. jake Silver badge

                Re: "spaces won with 51 per cent of the vote"

                "nobody knew what the hell I was talking about"

                That happened for me too ... I slid "Eight Megs And Constantly Swapping" into the conversation, and nobody in the room understood why eight megs might be considered to be a problem. Most of 'em didn't even seem to know what swap was.

                The first coder to figure out how to make a nickle off each and every wasted Gig of memory world-wide will become far more wealthy than any of today's tech billionaires.

  2. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    FAIL

    How delightful

    Is it any surprise that a Google-hosted event to talk about how great Google is has people mouthing nice words about privacy while defending ads and the data collection it implies ?

    Of course not. Obviously engineers are trotted out to reassure people : look how reasonable we are ! We know privacy matters !

    You mouth the words, but you're working for the biggest ad giant on the planet. You fool no one.

  3. LDS Silver badge

    "homeowners get a professional to do their electrical work"

    If electricians planted a surveillance device to track all of my family and visitors, I wouldn't want them anywhere near my house. Or if they started to look into any cupboard and drawer to "personalize the electric experience" - and the selling those info to the business around.

    An electrician is just like a library you use in your site - it performs what it has to do and the leave without keeping anything about what it did. Google and any tracking business is like a Peeping Tom around your house.

    Google is rotten down to the core, and only a real antitrust suit breaking it can save the internet...

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: "homeowners get a professional to do their electrical work"

      Google is rotten down to the core

      I'm not sure that's true and the hyperbole doesn't help. But, in fact, I think it may be worse than that. Particularly in America there are a lot of people who think that privacy is simply just another tradable commodity. This means they're essentially blind to the risks.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: "homeowners get a professional to do their electrical work"

        "Particularly in the Corporate World there are a lot of people who think that privacy is simply just another tradable commodity."

        FTFY. No charge.

        Suggesting that the uglier aspects of capitalism only exist in America is either willful ignorance, gross stupidity, or nationalistic myopia.

        1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          Re: "homeowners get a professional to do their electrical work"

          Yeah, sorry it wasn't nuanced enough. In the west there's generally a distinction between anglo-saxon and European attitudes with the former notoriously lax about data privacy, though often curiously squeamish about privacy, per se. The US has often ludicrous double standards: spying on US citizens is illegal unless they use libraries, but the rest of the world is fair game. But advertisting is generally much more pervasive than in Europe and this is reflected not only in laws, but also attitudes. This doesn't mean that no Americans care about privacy, nor that Europeans are particularly hot about it, with the "you've got nothing to worry if you've got nothing to hide" attitude prevalent everywhere.

          And in parts of Asia, notably but not only China of course, it's debatale as to whether privacy, as opposed to secrecy, really exists.

          1. JohnFen Silver badge

            Re: "homeowners get a professional to do their electrical work"

            I'm an American. The attitude of Americans on any given issue can vary wildly depending on what part of the US you're talking about, making generalizations effectively impossible. That said, let me generalize about the Americans that I personally know.

            Most of them are very concerned about privacy, including ad-related privacy. However, most of them are also resigned to this being a lost battle, so they aren't willing to put more effort than the occasional complaint into it.

      2. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: "homeowners get a professional to do their electrical work"

        "I'm not sure that's true and the hyperbole doesn't help"

        I don't really think that's hyperbolic. To my eyes, it appears to be accurate. Others may reasonably disagree, of course, but something isn't "hyperbolic" just because you don't agree with it.

  4. No Quarter

    Slow web sites

    They could just look for "wp-includes" in the code.

    1. Glen 1 Silver badge

      Re: Slow web sites

      I find vanilla wordpress perfectly responsive.

      Idiot designers front loading massive images and 100k+ of JavaScript on the other hand...

      That's before we get to janky ad insertions moving the content around *as your trying to read it*

      Then there's the 'count the clicks' to get to the content. Cookie consent that makes you do multiple clicks to deny all, no I don't want notifications, as clicking no to that counts as a mouse leave event, it fires a 'before you go' pop over. No, I don't want to receive news letters (hint hint el reg).

      I'm a few janky ad insertions away from using lynx.

      1. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: Slow web sites

        "I find vanilla wordpress perfectly responsive."

        I guess that depends on what you compare it to. When I switched to vanilla wordpress, I found it irritatingly slow. Not unusably so, though, so I did the switch anyway, because what wordpress lacks in performance, it makes up for in convenience.

        I've since switched away from WP due to increased security concerns, though.

    2. SVV Silver badge

      Re: Slow web sites

      And also look for the ones festooned with tracking cookies and for-the-benefit-of-the-website-and-not-the-user javascript and all other crud from Google and Facebook.....

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        Re: Slow web sites

        Impressive. The google.co.uk front page requires almost 200k of html to draw. The duckduckgo front page requires 6k - and it's legible, too.

    3. Mage Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Slow web sites

      No, it's all the evil 3rd party scripts, cookies, monitoring etc. Much by Google or inspired by Google.

      Installing and using uMatrix helps.

      No idea why 3rd party cookies are not disabled by default. I've never found disabling 100% breaks anything and aren't they illegal in Europe?

      Also evil Google CAPTCHA systems that delay access to sites and are simply Google being a parasite on training data sets. SHAME on web sites installing those!

      1. Def Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: One task done properly

        Disabling third party cookies breaks BankID in Norway. The main (read: only) system used for pretty much all secure logging in to banks, insurance, government, and any other website that needs to identify you personally.

        1. find users who cut cat tail

          Re: One task done properly

          Bank websites are generally terrible... But with uMatrix you can at least allow things like 3rd party cookies selectively with precise control.

          1. Def Silver badge

            Re: One task done properly

            The bank websites in Norway are actually quite good. Certainly a lot better than the crap I have to deal with in the UK from time to time.

            It's just BankID - which is purely a digital identification / signature system - being annoying with cookies. :)

      2. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: Slow web sites

        captcha is evil. It breaks NOSCRIPT. It's also IRRITATING.

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: Slow web sites

          CAPTCHA is also easier to solve for bots than it is for people with visual impairments. Which is actualy quite a large chunk of the population. So I fucking hate them. But despite perfect hearing the audio ones I've tried are impossible, whereas I can usually get the visual ones after 2 or 3 goes.

          Recently I've been an unpaid tester for Google to train their self-driving cars to recognise bicycles and traffic lights. Which is ironic given that Google's self-driving cars are allowed to drive around on public roads and I'm not...

    4. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: Slow web sites

      I would think a "code coverage" analysis might be interesting. If a zillion functions/styles are loaded, but only a handful are used, mark it *BLOATWARE* because it should NOT be cramming a boatload of bloat into the browser EVERY! STINKING! TIME! you load the page.

      NO excuses!!

  5. RyokuMas Silver badge
    Devil

    "Google is exploring shaming developers of slow loading websites..."

    Sounds reasonable, doesn't it - we all want faster loading websites.

    Except how long before the self-appointed web police decide that if a page does not use it's proprietary non-standard extension of html then it is too slow to load?

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Google has been using website speed as part of page-ranking for over a year now.

      1. Mage Silver badge
        Flame

        Searches

        Google Search getting increasingly poor as they are ignoring -terms, personalising even if not logged in, guessing your location, moving up people that advertise with them or use their analytics etc. Or assuming you want a bookmark service.

    2. JohnFen Silver badge

      "Sounds reasonable, doesn't it - we all want faster loading websites."

      I don't think that it sounds reasonable, personally. I think it sounds like a combination of bullying and pointless.

  6. Amentheist
    Trollface

    Spaces Means Spaces!

    #GetProgrammingDone

  7. Mindfart

    "Without the ad personalization enabled by all this tracking, websites earned 52 per cent less ad revenue on average, according to Google's figures, and news publishers earned 60 per cent"

    Good, we have too many crappy websites anyway.

    1. LDS Silver badge

      "websites earned 52 per cent less"

      Those are just number thrown around by a very interested party - to show they are not please publish an independent assessment of that...

  8. mark l 2 Silver badge

    "Google developer advocate Jake Archibald, was brought back on stage for a light-hearted scolding in which he confessed that he hadn't tested the page in Safari. Doubtless many others in the audience have done the same."

    If I hired a developer to do some website coding and they later admitted they hadn't bothered to test their code in anything other than 1 browser. I would not be hiring that developer again to do any more work for me.

    1. jake Silver badge

      I'd have fired him, right then and there. Gross incompetence is against my corporate bylaws.

      1. Jake Archibald

        Where's the solidarity, Jake?

        1. jake Silver badge

          Expecting solidarity based on an accident of naming?

          Kids these days ...

    2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      admitted they hadn't bothered to test their code in anything other than 1 browser

      Our web team tend to test against 5 desktop browsers (IE, Edge, Safari (Mac), Firefox & Chrome). And 2 mobile browsers (Android Chrome & iOS Safari).

  9. iron Silver badge

    > how Chrome deals with the consistent concerns of web developers: making the web faster, easier to use, more accessible, more secure, and more private

    Web developers have no interest in making the web faster, easier to use, accessible, secure or private. At least not from the evidence of the average website.

    1. andy 103

      Web developers have no interest in making the web faster, easier to use, accessible, secure or private. At least not from the evidence of the average website.

      Competent web developers do. It's just that they're few and far between. The web development market is absolutely saturated with people who think Wordpress is a platform you can build anything from, and consider copy/pasting code from Stack Overflow as making them "professionals".

  10. Ian Johnston

    Isn't the logical thing to use an editor which inserts as many spaces as required to get to the next tab stop set? I'm pretty use that's how EVE/TPU used to do it, in Ye Olde Days.

  11. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

    Google remains committed to privacy

    .. as in "their right to ensure that they get as much of your private data as possible".

    It's for your own good y'know!

    (And to mis-quote The Princess Bride "you keep using that word - it doesn't mean that y'know")

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Using market share to influence the web...

    It feels like a lot of what Google does is implementing their own experimental things with dubious actual use (WebP, SPDY, QUIC etc.) and hopes people starts using it.

    1. Suricou Raven Silver badge

      Re: Using market share to influence the web...

      Don't knock WebP too much. I can't speak for the lossy mode, but lossless wipes the floor with PNG for image compression ratio. Even pngcrush/optipng/advpng optimised PNG. If only Safari would support it, the world could consign PNG to the legacy-bucket along with GIF.

      I'd add AMP to the list though.

      1. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: Using market share to influence the web...

        I have yet to actually encounter WebP stuff myself, so I have no opinion of it. But, generally speaking, I don't care about what image formats are being used as long as my tools support them.

  13. Suricou Raven Silver badge

    I sense more AMP.

    "...Badging is intended to identify when sites are authored in a way that makes them slow generally, looking at historical load latencies."

    Translation: "If your site doesn't use AMP, our beloved make-all-our-trackers-run-faster system, we'll classify it as a slow site and steer people away.

  14. LeahroyNake Silver badge

    Nice one Google

    an attendee in the audience shouted out, "It doesn't work in Firefox."

    Someone buy this attendee a pint or drink of their choice! :)

  15. Barry Rueger

    Google is exploring shaming developers of slow loading websites

    Like Gmail? That consistently consumed all available RAM, grinding my not too old laptop to a grinding halt, and eventually forcing me back to Thunderbird and the generic "Email" app that came with my phone?

    Any developer that doesn't test on five-year-old hardware and a mediocre wifi hotspot should get out of the business.

  16. karlkarl Bronze badge

    I generally enforce spaces for a project if I know a Visual Studio pleb is going to contributing.

    I know for a fact that they will find it too awkward to keep changing tabs / spaces in their silly IDE settings and will drop the ball sooner rather than later.

    Then I can scold them and try to ween them off their inefficient text editor. This also frees them up for more innovative C compilers than ol' CL.

  17. chronicdashedgehog

    Speedshaming

    Just an excuse to force you to scale up your hosting

  18. jelabarre59 Silver badge

    ignored

    but their minority presence puts them at risk of being ignored by web devsbut their minority presence puts them at risk of being ignored by web devs

    Any web-devs (and their subsequent website) will get a nasty email from me if they willfully ignore my browser.

    1. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: ignored

      I won't bother sending an email. I'll just not go back to that website.

      1. jelabarre59 Silver badge

        Re: ignored

        I won't bother sending an email. I'll just not go back to that website.

        But *that's* no fun. First you send the harshly-worded email, *THEN* you don't ever go back.

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