[webkit-dev] Open Design beyond Open Source

George Staikos staikos at kde.org
Fri Feb 16 22:29:24 PST 2007

On 16-Feb-07, at 9:22 PM, Mike Emmel wrote:
> Actually their are five ports. QT OSX Gdk Windows and S60 you forgot
> the windows port. Of the five the windows port and gdk port are not
> progressing that well and don't have a lot of developer support. The
> QT S60 and OSX ports have a lot of developers with commit access and
> these port are proceeding so its 3 live ports and 2 half dead  ones.
> Here is the link of what you have to go through to commit now.
> http://webkit.org/coding/contributing.html
> People wanting to do a new port are not going to go through this long
> trial program just to commit in fact that have not.  The KDE team has
> pre-existing interest and both OSX and S60 are commercial.  The  two
> true open source ports gdk/windows plus the wx widget port have
> basically been failures so far.

    If you mean to say that the impression given off by the webkit  
project is one of "we don't want you" or at least "we're not really  
interested in having more people join our project", I have to agree.   
I still don't get the feeling of a welcoming project.   Is it a form  
of extreme paranoia that some new developer might introduce a bug?   
Maybe.... I'm not sure I consider that a valid reason though.

> So from and opens source perspective webkit is not a smashing success
> in drawing in the open source community only the KDE team has really
> contributed and they were the original developers. The S60 port also
> has a history of working with KHTML before webkit was made
> a open project.

   I wouldn't say so.  I think the KDE contribution is effectively  
nil.  The Qt port is distinct from KDE plans.  KDE as a community has  
yet to find a way to work together with WebKit for reasons that I  
think you're also experiencing and perhaps not clearly articulating.   
Yes I'm writing this from @kde.org and have contributed a huge amount  
to KDE, KHTML, etc over the past 8-9 years.  Until I have the KDE  
community feeling welcome and confident in participating, and until  
we have functioning code and development happening for a useful  
kpart, I don't see our Qt port as anything relevant to KDE.  I'm  
trying to make it relevant, and I want it to be relevant, but it  
really isn't.

    I've had a webkit SVN account for almost 2 years now.  I first  
tried to merge WebKit code back to KDE after all the KDE developers  
effectively gave up, and after successfully merging JavaScriptCore  
(with Maksim's help), determined that it just wasn't feasible to go  
any further without a complete replacement.  I then started the  
current Qt port and managed to enlist several KDE developers to help  
me.  At least one has given up again already, unsurprisingly.  We  
made some great progress but it's an absolutely ridiculous  
development model as far as getting real work done.  So far we had:

1) Work outside webkit SVN to start the port
    -> webkit renames and refactors hit us hard
2) Port again, also outside of WebKit SVN (note: we were doing a very  
large number of commits/week.  far more than now)
3) Spend far too much time merging from WebKit SVN, especially when  
things like renames and refactors happen
4) Eventually give up and merge back to webkit SVN
5) End up in a ridiculous situation of having one member of the  
porting team as the only person with rights to review the work.   
Interesting, since that person has no-one who can review his work  
under the formal rules.  The guy who started the port, and the guy  
who invented KHTML altogether are not given review rights.
6) Work slows down drastically as developers are discouraged and are  
stuck in procedure that has relatively little value for the given  

    Not a good model.  Maybe it works in an office with a couple of  
infrequent contributors, but it doesn't work so well for a  
distributed network of people trying to contribute significant  
amounts of code.  I fully agree that some sections of webkit need  
strict review control, testcases, bug reports, and other formal  
procedures.  I strongly support it in fact.  The current situation is  
not limited to just this.  Moreover, it feels very much like a  
Brusselized project, in stark contrast to where it came from  
originally.  This feeling applies to "ports" as much as anything else  
right now.

> In my book this makes WebKit a failed open source project  so far.

    I wouldn't go that far.  I would call it a successful open source  
project with a rather closed community at the moment.  Open source  
doesn't need community, but it sure helps.  I really don't think  
there are any technical problems, just social ones.

George Staikos
KDE Developer				http://www.kde.org/
Staikos Computing Services Inc.		http://www.staikos.net/

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