Igalia's Open Prioritization Project: Advancing the Web Commons for All

Igalia's Open Prioritization Project: Advancing the Web Commons for All

The goal is nothing less than the democratization of the web’s future

At Igalia, we believe very strongly in the open web and its advancement.  One of the barriers we see to moving forward is that adding new features to web browsers has always been dependent on the resources of browser teams. In our view, the easier it is for people outside those handful of teams to invest in the work of advancing the web, the better things are for everyone.

That’s why Igalia launched the Open Prioritization project in 2019, using the infrastructure of Open Collective to bring it to life.  The goal of Open Prioritization is nothing less than the democratization of the web’s future. Through Open Prioritization, any group of companies or individuals can pool resources toward a common goal, guide the execution of that vision, and see it though to completion.

Our first project helped demonstrate the model and the challenges of prioritization. Igalia offered to prioritize and implement one feature if the collective would provide some of the funding. This work would be not only jointly funded, but jointly prioritized.

We presented a choice of six features in different areas of the web platform and at different levels of implementation maturity. Cases were made for each, and participants were encouraged to not only contribute to the fund, but to advocate for why their choice was the best choice.

The crowd’s choice was to land the CSS pseudo class :focus-visible. This web feature allows authors to style focus indicators when they are expected, while withholding the indicators in situations where focus effects don’t make sense or might be confusing.

Support for :focus-visible first landed in Chrome, and, shortly before our task started, also landed in Firefox. That meant Safari for both macOS and iOS lacked the feature. Open Prioritization collected $75,000 in pledges from a variety of organizations, with Igalia matching the pledges dollar for dollar toward this task and work commenced.

As of the end of 2021, support for :focus-visible is now present in the Chrome and Firefox families of browsers, and is coming to Safari in early 2022.  While the collective was focused solely on adding support to Safari, the work done to test and verify that implementation benefitted all browser teams.

In November of 2021, we launched the second Open Prioritization collective, this one to bring core support for MathML (Mathematical Markup Language) Core to web browsers.  While still in its early days, this collective has already defined a roadmap and picked an implementor, while still being open to working with other implementors.

We’re incredibly grateful that Open Collective has made it so easy to organize Open Prioritization collectives. We expect to see more in the future: the work of improving the web is never done, and there will always be more projects to pursue than any one team can manage. We hope that more and more groups will come together around common needs and interests, gather the resources needed to bring what they need to the web, and advance the web commons for all.