Alex Russell: Web Platform Team, Google
Alex Russell is senior staff software engineer on the web platform team for Chrome at Google. He runs standards efforts for Chrome and also leads the team in charge of designing and launching progressive web app (PWA) technologies.
Alex and his team are working to change the way the web works by setting aside the current model of the web to think about how to get to a brand new web. There is potential for a new web everywhere, converging in different groups and conversations. “There’s a vision of computing which is device-centric. Another version is that everything comes from everybody—you don’t have to buy software from one vendor and you can use everything together,” Alex says.
To make these visions reality, the first step is creating a web that doesn’t lock applications into proprietary platforms. With the current model, developers have to decide which platforms to build in. Companies choose whether to make desktop versions, smartwatch versions, web versions, or iPhone and Android versions of their app.
The Google team is betting on the web as the best platform to build for distribution. Progressive web apps, a methodology for building web apps, is one example of a way forward. With PWAs, developers build only for the web and don’t have to create the same experience on other platforms for a uniform user experience. But they can’t do it alone. Web standards must advance and other browsers must be on board.
A key part to making the web accessible for all users is to make sure technology developed within the Chrome team is shared with everyone. “A lot of our colleagues work to make proprietary features, but our goal is to give our knowledge away as quickly as possible,” says Alex.
Alex speaks highly of the joint efforts with others. “We love working with other browser teams to create standards. The strength of the web is that we have standards organizations to help make the web equal for everyone. I hope standardizing the web will create a better, more unified platform for us all.”
Written by Tracy Lee
Photography by Daniel Garcia
Article originally appeared in Issue 9.3 “Future”