Is Optimising Apps For Specific Browsers A Good Idea?

Delivering apps via browsers avoids the hassle of trying to make them work on different platforms. But is that advantage sacrificed if they are 'optimised' for a particular browser?

I've been reflecting on this issue after reading an announcement late last week that SAP's new Fiori web apps have been optimised to work with Google Chrome. Fiori apps are built in HTML5, which means they should work well in any modern browser, but SAP was happy to let Google boast that the apps were optimised for Chrome.

Chrome is a well-regarded and popular browser, so ensuring good performance on that platform makes sense. But there's part of me that worries that the journey from "optimised for this platform" to "can only run on this platform" is a short one. What do you think?


    "Optimized for browser X" could mean anything from using a browser-specific CSS prefixes, or Javascript extensions, right through to doing such intense JS code that it relies on very specific quirks of the browser's JS engine.

    Personally, I would imagine that any in-browser app developer using HTML5 would write there code to be fully cross-browser with non-HTML5 fall-backs (for example, using tools like CSS3 Please). In this case, it may be true that Chrome provides some optimized implementation of, say, CSS3 Shadows. But, in the future (months/weeks), other browsers could easily implement better algorithms / standards compliance which the app would then automatically begin to use.

    This is contrary to native apps which require development in entirely different environments with different code bases with different "optimization" techniques.

    Of course, it depends on your apps needs: If you require super fast performance and cane spend the extra resources on optimized native code, then you can't just wait for browsers to catch up. On the other hand, if you only need basic implementation, you can save resources by going for HTML5 with cross browser fallbacks, and watch your app get magically faster as browsers get better :)

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