Google investigates faster, more-private webpage transitions

The Chrome team works on specs for fast loading and multipage sites

As part of efforts to improve the web experience, Google’s Chrome browser team is working on two specifications to enable smoother transitions between web pages.  

The specifications include Web Packaging (also called Web Packages), which would provide privacy-preserving, fast loading for the web, and Portals, letting multipage sites act as single-page applications by offering the same level of fluid transitions.

The Web Packaging proposal would give the browser proof of origin for resources rendered. It builds on the model of the AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) library for building web pages that load quickly. A subset of Web Packaging, Signed HTTP Exchanges (SXG), would let a publisher sign a single HTTP exchange so the signed exchange can be served from any caching server. When the browser loads the signed exchange, the publisher’s URL could be shown in the address bar because the signature in the exchange is proof that the content came from the publisher’s origin. Chrome is experimenting with SXG in the planned Chrome 71 browser.

With Web Packages and Signed HTTP Exchanges, when a package is signed with a key corresponding to the domain, it would be presented to the user as coming from that domain. This would enable privacy-preserving preloading and make edge caching easier, Google says. Content could be distributed to multiple caches without the need for an explicit DNS relationship with that cache.

Other layers of the Web Packaging proposal include:

  • Bundled HTTP exchanges, a collection of exchanges with metadata describing how to interpret the whole bundle.
  • Loading, with a description of how browsers load signed and bundled exchanges.

With the Portals proposal, a page could show another page as an inset and provide a smooth transition between an inset state and a navigated state. Such smooth navigation would occur from a page showing a portal-aware destination as an inset and between pages of a portal-aware website. The proposal remains in early stages of development.

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