When I wrote about my hopes and fears for the View Transitions API, a few people latched on to this sentiment:
If the View Transitions API only works for single page apps, it could be the single worst thing to happen to the web in years.
But I also wrote:
If the View Transitions API works across page navigations, it could be the single best thing to happen to the web in years.
I think it’s worth focusing on that.
Part of the problem is that I gave my hopes and fears an equal airing. But they’re not equally likely.
Take the possibility that the View Transitions API only ships for single page apps, but never ships for regular page transitions. The consequences of that would be big—the API would act as an incentive to build single page apps. But the likelihood of that happening is small. In fact, according to Jake, there’s already an implemention for page transitions in the works at Chrome.
Now what if the View Transitions API ships for pages? The consequences would be equally big—the API would act as an incentive to ditch single page apps and build in a more performant, resilient way. Best of all, the chances of that happening are very large indeed (pretty much a certainty now, given Jake’s update).
So I made a comparison between both of the consequences, which are equally large, but I didn’t make a corresponding comparison of the likelihoods, which are not equally large. Mea culpa!
I should’ve made it clearer that, although the consequences would be really bad if the View Transitions API only supports single page apps, the actual likelihood of that is pretty slim.
That’s probably my negativity bias showing through. (The reason I have a negativity bias is because I am a human. Like, have you ever noticed that if you get feedback on something and 98% of it is positive, you inevitably fixate on the 2%?)
So let me amend my closing sentences from my previous post:
If the View Transitions API only works for single page apps—which is very unlikely—it could be the single worst thing to happen to the web in years.
If the View Transitions API works across page navigations—which is very, very likely—it could be the single best thing to happen to the web in years.
The glass is half full and it’s only going to get fuller. Time to start planning for a turbo-charged web now.
If you’ve got a website with full page navigations, start thinking about how you’ll be able to apply the View Transitions API as a progressive enhancement to improve the user experience.