Google Chrome Reverses Course- Will Implement Pointer Events

This is great news. One of the worst chapters from a standards perspective in The Uncertain Web was on user input. At the time I wrote the chapter, I had a relatively positive tone. The flow of the chapter led to a discussion of Pointer Events and how, with support in IE and intended implementation in both Firefox and Chrome, we were on the cusp of having a sane way to deal with user input across devices and form factors.

Then it all went to hell.

Here’s what I wrote in the book:

As you’ve read in the chapter on user input, the Pointer Events specification, proposed by Microsoft, favored by Firefox and adopted by the W3C, is up in the air because Chrome isn’t sure whether or not they are going to support it. This was announced after I finished the chapter on user input. I found out via Twitter that Chrome was going to pull planned support for Pointer Events and felt about as deflated as I’ve ever felt about a web standards topic. For one thing, I like Pointer Events. I’m not sharing them as the way of the future just to be hip and share the new stuff. I really like them. Secondly, Google’s proposed alternative, “incrementally extending our existing input APIs” doesn’t really offer much of a salve to the wound of two wasted years looking for this specification to get off the ground and into browsers.

Maybe, like the door on +picture+ being reopened and bursting through to get into the specification, the already specified Pointer Events’ work will come back from the dead and make it into Chrome and the rest of modern browsers. The Chrome team are listening to feedback, so hopefully that’s just what’s going to happen.

We shall see.

Here’s what I wrote when Chrome announced the changed status of the original intent to implement:

I’ve already had to rewrite a book chapter on input on the web because of Chrome dropping support for Pointer Events (you were the good guys- along with IE you form an 800lb gorilla) to be a lot more bleak (now Chrome is the bad guys and we don’t have any solution on the horizon.) Nothing would please me more than to revert to the original take on that chapter.

I also don’t want to pin my hopes on this issue getting sorted out on the vague promise of “extensions” to the existing screwed up mess. What guarantee do we have that Apple will be any more interested in “extensions.” Will Chrome’s BFFs on the IE team be interested in “extensions?” If we’re looking at incremental extensions as the solution (with no more details than that,) I will be retired, drinking coffee at Sant’Eustachio Il Caffè and struggling my way through La Gazzetta dello Sport before the issue of user input on the modern web is sorted out in a way that benefits developers and end users. Smart people are doing stupid things with this stuff because it’s a complicated issue. Browser vendors and the W3C have to lead on this and sort it out from up on high because the bottom up approach isn’t working right now.

Thankfully, the Chrome team listened to reason (and a flood of negative feedback for their decision) and have reversed course.

Now we just need to get the new jQuery-driven version of the Pointer Events polyfill project ready for prime time and we’ll be all set.

As an aside, if there’s one good thing that came out of Chrome’s decision is that they Polymer team deprecated the Pointer Events Polyfill and passed the codebase over to jQuery. The Polymer version of the polyfill had a high barrier to entry to even get to use. I just linked to a version in my own code repo for the book because I hated the idea of forcing people to go through a multiple-dependency, poorly documented rigmarole just to “install” the polyfill. The jQuery team will, eventually, have a handy download link right on the site- like a normal project.

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