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Capabilities

There are some capabilities, like file system access, idle detection, and more that are available to native but aren’t available on the web. These missing capabilities mean some types of apps can't be delivered on the web, or are less useful.

We strongly believe that every developer should have access to the capabilities they need to make a great web experience, and we are committed to a more capable web.

We want to close the capability gap between the web and native and make it easy for developers to build great experiences on the open web. We plan to design and develop these new capabilities in an open and transparent way, using the existing open web platform standards processes while getting early feedback from developers and other browser vendors as we iterate on the design, to ensure an interoperable design.

In flight

Capability Description
Badging API The Badging API is a new web platform API that allows installed web apps to set an application-wide badge, shown in an operating-system-specific place associated with the application, such as the shelf or home screen. Badging makes it easy to subtly notify the user that there is some new activity that might require their attention, or it can be used to indicate a small amount of information, such as an unread count.

Current Status: Gathering feedback & iterating on design.
Writable Files API The writable files API is designed to increase interoperability of web applications with native applications, making it possible for users to choose files or directories that a web app can interact with on the native file system, and without having to use a native wrapper like Electron to ship your web app.

Current Status: Gathering feedback & iterating on design.
See the full list of capabilities including the backlog of ones we've haven't started working on yet.

Launched

Capability Description
Web Share Target The Web Share Target API allows installed web apps to register with the underlying OS as a share target to receive shared content from either the Web Share API or system events, like the OS-level share button.

Status: Launched in Chrome 71

How will we design & implement these new capabilities?

We developed this process to make it possible to design and develop new web platform capabilities that meet the needs of developers quickly, in the open, and most importantly, work within the existing standards process. It’s no different than how we develop every other web platform feature, but it puts an emphasis on developer feedback.

Developer feedback is critical to help us ensure we’re shipping the right features, but when it comes in late in the process, it can be hard to change course. That’s why we’re starting to ask for feedback earlier. When actionable technical and use-case feedback comes in early, it’s easier to course correct or even stop development, without having shipped poorly thought out or badly implemented features. Features being developed at WICG are not set in stone, and your input can make a big difference in how they evolve.

It’s worth noting that many ideas never make it past the explainer or origin trial stage. The goal of the process is to ship the right feature. That means we need to learn and iterate quickly. Not shipping a feature because it doesn’t solve the developer need is OK. To enable this learning, we have come to employ the following process (although there is frequently some re-ordering of later steps due to feedback):

Identify the developer need

The first step is to identify and understand the developer need. What is the developer trying to accomplish? Who would use it? How are they doing it today? And what problems or frustrations are fixed by this new capability. Typically, these come in as feature request from developers, frequently through bugs filed on bugs.chromium.org.

Create an explainer

After identifying the need for a new capability, create an explainer. The explainer should have enough detail to identify the problem the new capability provides and helps people understand the scope of the problem. The Explainer is a living design document that will go through heavy iteration as the new capability evolves.

Get feedback and iterate on the explainer

Once the explainer has a reasonable level of clarity, it’s time to publicize it, to solicit feedback, and iterate on the design. This is an opportunity to verify the new capability meets the needs of developers and works in a way that they expect. This is also an opportunity to gather public support and verify that there really is a need for this capability.

Move the design to a specification & iterate

At this point, the design work will transition into the standards process, creating a formal specification, working with developers and other browser vendors to iterate and improve on the design.

As the design begins to stabilize, an origin trial might be helpful. Origin trials provide a means to safely experiment with new web platform features in Chrome and help to verify the proposal solves the problem it set out to solve.

Ship it

Finally, after the spec has been finalized, the origin trial is complete and all of the steps and approvals from the Blink launch process have been completed, it’s time to ship it.

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