Building a new Web Browser in 2019

Building a new browser might sound like a crazy idea. In this session we’d like to walk you through why we decided to build Puma Browser, why we think it’s important for the future of the web, what is Web Monetization Spec and Interledger Open Protocol.

Yuriy started as a web dev ‘long before it was cool’ in Ukraine, hand-coding HTML and CSS.

Yuriy is building a new browser, Puma.

So why build a new browser now, in 2019?

  1. The web never had a built-in payment model. How many people know 402? HTTP ‘payment required’. It was included in the spec, but never actually used.
  2. The main monetisation model is ads, which has led to all kinds of tracking and privacy concerns
  3. The browsers stopped exploring, there hasn’t been much real experimentation for a long time (other than Brave in 2015)

In the meantime we have ads and paywalls, which make people sad. How do we fix that? People + Technology… and mostly people. We as devs need to come together to explore new ways to build things.

Yuriy has been collecting tweets from people dreaming of a better way to pay content creators; and also to avoid having ads everywhere.

Enter the Interledger protocol (ILP). For a while everyone thought ‘blockchain all the things’ but this problem doesn’t seem to be solved with blockchain. ILP is an open standard that connects networks, is use case agnostic and uses packetised money. It’s a new way of thinking about money and has some really positive impacts on how we think about money.

Existing systems don’t do micro transactions – the average VISA transaction is $80, the average for Interledger is a fraction of one cent.

Interledger doesn’t care what currency you are sending. Both the sender and receiver can choose a connector for the right currency for them (including cryptocurrency). So the reader can send what they want and the author can receive what they want.

Sender - Connector - Connector - Receiver

Think of ILP as TCP/IP for payments.

It’s built in JavaScript and Rust and has a JS API, with events for things like starting and progressing monetisation.

To receive payment you add a payment pointer to your pages, eg. with xrptipbot:

<meta name="monetization" content="$twitter.xrptipbot.com/username"/>

So how are they building Puma browser? They have a very small team (three people, geographically separated). But it takes a village and a lot of people are keen to help. The Coil team are very keen and working on the content side.

The Puma team is very focused – they are starting by building mobile only. V1 with Expo and React Native supports both iOS and Android; but they are going to focus on iOS after this. Curiously all iOS browsers have to share the same engine, which makes it much easier for a small team to create a browser – the difference is what you build above that common layer.

(video break: a fan-made video for Puma, which is beautifully sincere and wonderfully over the top ;))

(Live demo showing how payments stream while you are consuming content; also that the original version of Puma didn’t even have tabs! The new version does, and – very important – dark mode by default)

What can we do?

  1. Web Monetize your site
  2. Play around with Puma Browser (and give feedback)
  3. They are hiring

The web is currently heading in a bad direction. There’s a focus on grabbing attention and showing ads, which leads to tracking you a lot so you can sell more ads…

Let’s push the web in the right direction.

@html5cat