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Re: SimpleWebKit (was GNUstep Web browser (was Re: WebKit Bounty))

From: Mark Rowe
Subject: Re: SimpleWebKit (was GNUstep Web browser (was Re: WebKit Bounty))
Date: Mon, 19 Mar 2007 11:07:17 +1100
User-agent: Unison/1.7.9

Hi there,

I feel compelled to mention the incredibly large amount of work that will be required to bring SimpleWebKit up to a reasonable standard of web compatibility. HTML, XHTML, and CSS are not simple specifications. Supporting them to a sufficient degree to have a usable web browser is quite an ask. Add in the requirement for handling technologies like JavaScript, the HTML and CSS DOMs, and browser plugins and you significantly increase the complexity and man-hours required.

A common misunderstanding is that the only complex part in creating a web browser is supporting "broken" web pages. It is true that this can complicate matters, but the fact that no major web browsers have *complete* support for the majority of web standards should give some idea as to how much work is involved in implementing them. Internet Explorer and Mozilla have been developed over the last 10 years, primarily by full-time software engineers.

When the original GNUstep port[1] of WebKit was attempted the codebase wasn't structured in a fashion conducive to ports. There was no easily usable platform abstractions. Many portions of the code were in the Objective-C WebKit layer and were dependent on AppKit implementation details. We have remedied many of these issues, and now have one very active port to the Qt toolkit, with further semi-active ports to Gdk and Windows. Adobe has also ported WebKit to their Flash-based rendering system. A lot of work has been put in to assisting porting efforts with the aim of increasing portability and helping WebKit work on as many platforms as is practical. I would strongly encourage any interested developers to consider porting WebKit directly rather than wasting a large amount of time in reimplementation.

Please get in touch[2] with us if anyone is interested in getting involved with porting WebKit to GNUstep. It will almost certainly be a quicker means of having a fully-featured web browser on GNUstep than attempting to start from scratch.

Kind regards,

Mark Rowe
WebKit developer

[1] <https://gna.org/projects/gswebkit/>.
[2] <http://webkit.org/contact.html> has a number of types of contact info, with IRC usually being one of the more active means.

On 03/07/07, "address@hidden" <address@hidden> said:

Although threre has been a lot of scepticism if the approach of
reimplementing the WebKit API in pure Objective-C is reasonable and a
lot of discussion where to start at all, I have rendered the first
pages as you can see here:


On the left side is the NSLog() of the DOM tree when I link against
Apple Foundation and AppKit (which makes the development cycle very

I will try to track the current status here:

Currently implemented is:
* loading from the network by using NSURLConnection wrapped into
* HTML parsing (by using an extended NSXMLParser from Foundation)
* HTML to DOM tree translation
* DOM tree to NSAttributedString translation
* display in an NSTextView
* WebFrame, WebFrameView
* WebView

Missing is
* Embedding and displaying images, forms etc. in an attributed string
* formatting of tables
* several formatting rules are missing
* JavaScript
* Plugins
* Anchors
* Frames
* Cookies

Fortunately, Riccardo Mottola will help to make it compile and run
with GNUstep base and gui (which shouldn't be too diffcult).

Nikolaus Schaller

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