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InfoQ Homepage News Douglas Crockford Previews His Idea For a New Web

Douglas Crockford Previews His Idea For a New Web

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At the Angular U conference in San Francisco, Douglas Crockford presented an idea that, if ever implemented, could have long ringing effects on the web as we know it.

What bothers Crockford about the current web is that it's complicated and therefore inherently insecure. Unfortunately, due to the W3C standards process, the industry can never remove anything without serious implications, so additional layers and features continue to muddy the waters.

Crockford presented an early idea of a new web built on top of our current one that includes new routing, crypto, computation containers, and a presentation system. His proposal would throw out much of the current web as we know it and replace it with surrogate web built upon existing browsers.

His implementation plan starts with convincing a single browser maker to integrate a "helper app". When a user visits a web site that supports the new technology, the browser will spin up the helper app and all traffic for the app is handed off.

Once the tech is supported by a browser, Crockford plans to convince one secure site, such as a bank, to require customers to use the browser and helper app combo. If this step is successful, other secure sites should follow suit which will compel the browser manufacturers to support the helper app as well.

In this scenario, all existing web technology and traffic continues to function. "I want [the web] to continue to do the things it does well," he said. The helper app uses the new crypto (ECC 521, AES 256, SHA 3-256) to exchange messages with a JavaScript message server. The UI is based on Qt. Readers will note that this completely removes SSL, HTML, and CSS from the equation.

It's too early to tell if this is a viable idea. Even Crockford himself has doubts. "I'm not saying that this will ever happen," he commented. He noted that other companies have already attempted something similar:

"There have been many companies who have tried to replace or capture the web. Microsoft, Apple, Adobe, Oracle and many others, big and small, have all tried to make their own application platform on the theory that 'It's easy to do something smarter than the web, so we'll just do that.' Their technology is usually better, but in most cases the solution is not open. They've all failed."

Crockford is the author of JavaScript: The Good Parts and is credited with popularizing the JSON data syntax. A video of his talk is available.

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