On vendor prefixes and WODs

With yesterday’s revelation that Opera are going to support WebKit prefixes, the vendor-prefix issue which first raised its head back in February, was once again brought to the fore. Personally I don’t think that vendors supporting each other’s prefixes is a good thing.

At the moment we don’t have the technical ins and outs of how or what Opera will supprt exactly, as this will be released by Opera in a detailed blog post soon. But from comments I’ve seen from some Opera people on Twitter, it appears that it will only be a handful of the more common WebKit prefixes. Opera evangelist Bruce Lawson provided .net magazine with a statement indicating that:

…too many authors of mobile sites only use the WebKit-prefixed version, and not even the standard, unprefixed one, when it is available…[which]…leads to a reduced user experience on Opera, Mobile Firefox and Mobile IE, which don’t receive the same shiny effects, such as transitions, gradients and the like, even if the browser supports those effects.

Fair enough, I think, but I also don’t think that vendors should be pandering to the needs of bad web developers. If you’re a web developer who only uses WebKit prefixes then you’re not a very good one.

Web developers should be testing what they produce in a number of browsers, at least Firefox, Opera, Safari, Chrome and the latest Internet Explorer. If a client says “I like this animation here, but why doesn’t it work in my IE8?”, it’s ok to give the excuse that the browser doesn’t support it. If the client wants that support, then further discussions can ensue.

Why is it any different for the WebKit Only Developer (from here on known as a WOD) who gets asked why the website whizziness doesn’t work in Firefox or Opera? It would make the lazy developer (which is what a WOD really is) dig a bit deeper and discover the world of other vendor prefixes and stacking them to support other browsers, and thus improving them as a web developer. This is what we should be aiming for and the vendors shouldn’t be supporting WODs and other lazy developers.

Ultimately my message to vendors is this: continue doing your good work and stop supporting the WODs.