Google embraces Internet Explorer tech to help improve Chrome's scrolling

Google and Microsoft aren't exactly friends, but the two companies are working closely to add some Microsoft magic to Chrome that could improve the browser's scrolling issues--especially on mobile. Google recently said it would introduce Microsoft's Pointer Events (a technology that controls mouse, touch, and stylus inputs) in Chrome.

Pointer Events is adopted by other major browsers, including Firefox and Internet Explorer, but Apple's Safari does not support it. Google says it decided to support Microsoft's tech after feedback from web developers, browser vendors, and others in the web community, as first reported by The Verge.

Google says Pointer Events should improve the initial scroll stuttering users sometime experience on mobile.  "Replacing all touch event handlers with pointer event handlers will address the main longstanding source of scroll-start jank we see on Android," Google's Rick Byers said on a Google Groups post.

The big win, however, is for developers who can take advantage of one input model technology across Chrome, Firefox, and IE.

Google's decision to implement Pointer Events comes one month after the Microsoft technology was adopted as a standard by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).

The impact on you at home: Don't expect to see Pointer Events show up in the mainstream build of Chrome soon. Byers says implementation will take some time as it builds Pointer Events into Blink--the rendering engine that powers Chromium and Chrome. After that it will slowly filter down to alpha and beta builds of Chrome before hitting the stable versions most people use on their PCs and mobile devices.

Once implemented, Pointer Events will exist on all Chrome platforms, including Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, Chrome OS, and Android.

Reversing course

The decision to embrace Pointer Events comes less than a year after Google's Chromium team had decided against implementing Pointer Events. Instead, the Chromium team said it would stick with an alternative called Touch Events, which is supported by Apple's Safari.

At the time, the Chromium team said it wouldn't support Pointer Events because it didn't believe Microsoft's tech would ever be more widely supported than Touch Events, owing to Safari's dominance on mobile devices. Google's browser makers also cited performance drawbacks to adopting Pointer Events.

Despite its reversal, the Chromium team still believes that Pointer Events has some problems and hopes to work toward creating a standard that is interoperable between Chrome, Firefox, and IE.


Ian Paul

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