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Chris Coyier on (Updated on )

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So Microsoft launches a Node-based browser automation project called Playwright. It allows you to spin up a headless version of a browser and control it. Go here! Click something! Take a screenshot! That kind of stuff. Particularly useful for testing.

It’s just like Google’s Puppeteer, only instead of being Chrome-only, it also “works” in Firefox and Safari.

The drama started immediately.

The launch tweet from Andrey Lushnikov (who’s Twitter bio is “former TL @ Chrome Puppeteer, former eng @ Chrome DevTools”), is responded to by Sam Sneddon who questions the cross-browser compatibility. Apparently that compatibility comes via very large patches to those other browsers which some feel are a little house-of-cards-esque and will never actually land in those other browsers, especially since there are competing efforts like puppeteer-firefox.

It’s fairly obvious that the original team from Google behind Puppeteer kinda, uhhhh, made their way over to Microsoft and re-did the work over there. A little bird tells me Google is proper pissed about it.

I don’t have any other inside knowledge here, but it doesn’t seem to make Microsoft look very good here. For a company that has had so much success with an open-source strategy, hiring away a team to build a directly competing alternate open-source project without much cooperation from the other open-source projects it integrates with isn’t a great look. At the same time, having a working project that allows cross-browser headless control is pretty rad.

Feel free to enlighten me if I have it all wrong.

Related: As I understand it, Cypress doesn’t use either project, but has their own thing, and is close to Firefox support as well.

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