Brian Birtles’ Blog

Hi! I’m Brian and these are my notes as I go from Web browser engineer to running a Web app startup in Tokyo.

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  • Weird things engineers believe about Web development

    I wrote most of this post sometime in 2022 but I think it holds up alright in 2024 so I decided to publish it for posterity. I don’t really like doing posts like this—I’d much rather share some innocuous learnings or tips but it turns out I have opinions too 😓 Sorry!

    2024-02-21: I’ve added a few reflections at the end of the post.

    Since I quit Mozilla and went back to full-time Web development, I’ve discovered a few surprises. It turns out Web development is actually pretty hard, Web developers are actually very smart, and some of these frameworks and techniques we mocked as browser engineers aren’t so bad. Oops.

    At the same time, it turns out some Web developers have ideas about browsers and the Web that, as a former browser engineer and standards editor, I’m a bit dubious of.

    Here are a few of the things that surprised me.

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  • Playwright WebKit

    Sharding Playwright tests by browser

    2024-01-22: I’ve updated this to work with Playwright 1.41.

    Last week started like every other week, meaning half a dozen projects were broken by half a dozen incompatible dependency updates. There were the usual suspects like Lexical but most noticeable was Playwright.

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  • Blogging

    In praise of WordPress

    After over a year of fighting with Eleventy and then Astro to set up a this blog just right I find myself needing to set up yet another blog, this time for work. I could just build on what I’ve got with Astro but I can’t help but wonder if I would have been better off sticking with WordPress after all.

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  • Astro

    RSS the hard way: Adventures with Astro Assets

    There’s something depressing about a blog about blogging. I never wanted this to be one of those blogs. But I’ve struggled so much with Astro’s image feature these past few weeks that I really hope it will benefit others and amount to a bit more than one over-engineered RSS feed.

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  • Business in Japan

    Sponsoring Open Source as a Japanese Company

    Six years since my last post, I thought I’d get back into blogging. I plan to write about Web apps and things but I’d also like to talk a bit about running a company in Japan since there’s not a lot of good information on that in English.

    Today, I want to share some notes about sponsoring Open Source through GitHub as a Japanese company.

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  • Archive Web Animations

    Web animation in 2017

    Happy new year! As promised I thought I’d share a few of the Web animation things I’m looking forward to in 2017. I’m terrible at predicting the future (I used to be a believer in BeOS and VRML) so this is mostly based on what is already in motion.

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  • Archive Web Animations

    MozAnime in 2016

    MozAnime is the informal name we use to cover all the work on animation-related features at Mozilla. We’re based in Tokyo, Tochigi, Taipei, Toronto, and… somewhere in France that probably, hopefully, starts with a ‘t’ as well.

    I can’t wait to tell you all the things I’m looking forward to next year, but in this post I want to share some of the highlights from the MozAnime crew in 2016.

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  • Archive Mozilla

    Gecko insiders

    At Mozilla Japan, we’ve been doing a series of monthly events called “Gecko inside” where we discuss details of hacking on Gecko in the hope of helping each other learn and helping new contributors to get started.

    Last weekend we held a special “write a patch” day where we gathered a group of long-time contributors to mentor first-time contributors through the process of setting up a build environment, writing a patch, and getting it reviewed and landed.

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  • Archive Mozilla

    Mozilla Japan engineering is quite hot right now

    Fortunately Taipei’s shaved ice extravaganza Ice Monster has popped-up just around the corner from our office in Tokyo!

    Now that I’ve sufficiently buried the lede, I’d like to introduce you to what our platform engineers have been up to in the land of the rising (and scorching) sun.

    Since April we’ve been trying to focus our efforts around two themes: Input and Animation although we also work on other items like fonts and supporting partner projects.

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  • Archive SMIL

    What do we do with SMIL?

    Earlier this week, Blink announced their intention to deprecate SMIL. I thought they were going to replace their native implementation with a Javascript one so this was a surprise to me.

    Prompted by this, the SVG WG decided it would be better to split the animation features in SVG2 out into a separate spec. (This was something I started doing a while ago, calling it Animation Elements, but I haven’t had time to follow up on it recently.)

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