So long, and thanks for all the fish!

Published on 28.07.2021 by Peter Kröner and Hans Christian Reinl

Today we are sad to announce the end of Warhol. We did not see the growth that we hoped for in the past few months and actually getting Warhol's core idea to work proved way harder than we anticipated. We did not see a way forward within our budget of time, money and energy and thus decided to pull the plug. All that development has ceased, backend services are offline, contracts have been canceled. We will endeavor to keep this web page online for as long as possible and probably open-source bits and pieces of Warhol's core functionality.

Warhol's first prototype

Making Warhol work was always going to be a hard problem. Not only would Warhol have to extract component's style information from web pages, but it would in turn also have to compare this information to web pages in the wild. Unlike regular visual regression testing tools, Warhol was to operate on CSS - we always summed up the original idea as literally "react-like DOM diffing, but for CSS and in reverse". In theory this can be more accurate than comparing pixels, and it could also be made content-aware, meaning that updates to a page's content would not be counted a change in design. Wrangling CSS of course introduces its own set of challenges, but we thought we could tame this problem by offloading much of this wrangling to remote-controlled browsers. This particular bet did not pay off in the end.

Announcing Warhol in 2019

Due to a number of limitations and caveats in essentially everything mentioned above (CSS, browsers, web pages) we soon had a fight at our hands that we could not win with what time, money and energy we were willing to expend. Developing a web app plus a browser extension plus all the supporting infrastructure and designing, documenting and promoting a new kind of service is quite a challenge by itself. Add the aforementioned challenge of actually getting our core idea to work, and the effort required to keep Warhol going began to surpass what we were able to keep up with. So we decided to pull the plug.

An early version of the browser extension (2019)

If you have a lot of time and a lot of money at your hands (or preferably both) and want to have a try at making the idea behind Warhol work, we encourage you to do so! Even now we still believe that Warhol's basic concept (comparing CSS instead of pixels) holds a lot of promise - it's just not us who will be delivering on that promise.

So long, and thanks for all the fish!

Hans & Peter

Written by

Peter Kröner

Trainer for frontend technologies, podcaster @workingdraft.

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Written by

Hans Christian Reinl

Software Architecture and Development is my passion. I love agile methodologies. Co-hosting @workingdraft

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