Ensuring the web is for everyone

by John Graham-Cumming.

This is the text of an internal email I sent at CloudFlare that we thought worth sharing more widely. I annotated it a bit with links that weren't in the original.

"Tim Berners-Lee- Mosaic by Sue Edkins at Sheen Lane Centre" by Robert Smith - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Commons


Subject: Days of future past

Folks,

One of the exciting things about working at CloudFlare is our continual push to stay on top of what's new for our customers. We've pushed things like IPv6 and SPDY in the past; and we'll soon be giving the world DNSSEC and HTTP/2. In the world of SSL we've stayed on top of changes in recommended cipher suites and offer the latest signature algorithms SHA-2 to our customers.

But as we do this we must not forget the old protocols. Because we serve a truly global audience we serve everyone on the planet. It's easy inside a Silicon Valley bubble to think that everyone is on 1Gbps Internet connection with the latest version of Chrome on a new Mac, but the worldwide reality is far different.

We see every type of machine and browser out there. And by machine I mean computers old and new, smartphones, dumb phones, command-line clients, every type of proxy server. And we see them on satellite connections from ships at sea, 3G connections in developing countries, fiber connections to the home and more.

As we keep pushing for the future we also have to look to the past and make sure we support everyone. Supporting everyone means that all CloudFlare sites are accessible to everyone who uses the web and when someone asks "Can you handle X?" we can simply answer "Yes" without any caveats. And X can be something created 15 years ago or 15 months ago.

So, when making technical decisions we need to ask ourselves "Who are we excluding if we do this?" and really push ourselves to come up with a solution if we are excluding some portion of the Internet's users and create solutions that don't compromise speed and security.

At the 2012 Olympics in London the creator of the web, Tim Berners-Lee, appeared in the opening ceremony and tweeted "This is for everyone". Let's make sure we keep the web available, secure and fast for everyone.

John.

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