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Worth knowing about Baseline

What’s to know about Baseline

by Frida Nyvall

We summarize the main points of Baseline: the initiative that gather browser companies around a new standard for browser compatibility.

TLDR;

Baseline is a project involving all major browser companies to set a standard for browser compatibility. Web features are included in Baseline when they are supported in the current and previous versions of all major browsers (Chrome, Edge, Firefox, and Safari).


What is Baseline?

Baseline is a Google initiative for sorting web features according to which browsers support them. Other large browser companies like Apple (Safari), Microsoft (Edge), and Mozilla (Firefox) are also involved in the project, which is needed to create this kind of standard. MDN web docs will strive to show Baseline compatibility for the different web features described in their documentation.

Every year there will be a new iteration of the features included in Baseline. Features included in each year’s version of Baseline will be the ones that are supported safely across all major browsers. That means it is possible to decide to support all features up to a certain previous Baseline iteration.

Why is Baseline Important?

The companies behind the different browsers all have their own timeline for implementing new web features.

This leads to discrepancies in what and when certain web features can be safely used in which browsers. Using a feature that is not yet implemented in the viewing browser can lead to layout issues, broken functionality, and an overall poor user experience.

Features become part of Baseline when they are supported in the current and previous version of all major browsers – Chrome, Edge, Firefox, and Safari.

Official Baseline website
Google Dev

Baseline acts as a standard to help avoid issues with browser compatibility and to ensure that a web application or website looks, feels, and functions the same way across all browsers.

How is Baseline useful?

With Baseline standards in place, it will be easier to communicate, understand and confirm which level of browser support is needed.

It will be easier to explain and agree on a certain level of browser compatibility, leading to more clearly defined projects and a better understanding of costs incurred by deeper browser compatibility demands.

Our Hopes for Baseline

The project is just getting started, but we see great potential in its usefulness. One of our hopes is that it will further incentivize modern browser support, letting unsafe and unsupported browsers like Internet Explorer come to a final rest.

Another hope is that Baseline support will get picked up by more web documentation tools like caniuse.com, to further facilitate Baseline compliant development.

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