Hindsight is #2020 Investigating the less-than-gracefully-degrading corners of the web

About Me

A vexed Wompat

I am Thomas Wisniewski, a software engineer living near Toronto who has a great interest in keeping the open web a healthy place. Right now, that means working for Mozilla as a Web Compatibility Engineer. My mugshot here ought to give you a rough idea of my state of mind while doing this job.

Ok, and what the heck is a Web Compatibility Engineer?

Basically, I'm part of the web's mop-and-bucket crew. When users report that a site is not behaving the same way in different browsers, I'm there to sift through their megs of minified code, confusing console output, and complex event-handling plumbing to diagnose what went wrong, how to fix it, and who should fix it. Then I help notify all of those folks, and get them to turn their not-quite-web-compatible bits into stuff that doesn't require a specific browser running on specific hardware to work well.

Are you a glutton for punishment?

Not really, I just found it even more punishing to live through the last time the web was in poor health, and don't want to relive that again.

Why not just make everyone use [insert browser of choice here]?

Good luck getting everyone to do that. I'm not the only person who remembers the last time that nearly happened. And even if we all used a browser based on the same engine, there will always be interoperability and compatibility issues between them. Besides, I'd rather not daydream of a web that's so restricted. I'd rather try to improve it for everyone, not just whomever the people in charge of it at the time want to focus on to make their shareholders happy.

What else do you do?

Basically whatever is needed at the time (I'm easygoing like that). That has included writing specialty add-ons, low-level browser code, helping with web platform tests and standards, and whatever strikes my fancy at the time. Aside from code, I'm generally found reading, hanging out and playing games with others, and soaking in the scenery around me.