[webkit-dev] GlobalScript in WebKit

David Hyatt hyatt at apple.com
Mon Nov 30 13:58:45 PST 2009

On Nov 30, 2009, at 3:45 PM, Maciej Stachowiak wrote:

> WebKit (or at least the mainline) is not necessarily a great place  
> for experiments. As our Project Goals say: "WebKit is an engineering  
> project, not a science project." <http://webkit.org/projects/goals.html 
> >. Of course, that's a pretty fuzzy line, because sometimes a use  
> case is really well proven and we're not willing to wait for  
> standards groups to get their butt in gear. But there are some  
> potential bad scenarios with building features that don't have a  
> clear path to standardization:
> 1) It will be rejected by other browser vendors and end up a WebKit- 
> only (or nearly WebKit-only) feature, but enough WebKit-specific  
> content depends on it that we can't drop it, even if we would like  
> to. Then we are stuck maintaining a dead-end technology  
> indefinitely. It seems like the SQL database may be on this path.

This is really the scenario to worry about the most.  Having to  
support "failed" technologies is painful.

> 2) It will get adopted into standards, but with significant changes  
> when other implementors and standards experts jump on the bandwagon.  
> These changes can cause a very painful transition, since we need to  
> remain compatible with legacy WebKit-specific content, yet at the  
> same time we don't want to be in violation of the consensus spec.  
> This actually happened with <canvas> - it changed incompatibly in  
> ways that broke a bunch of WebKit-specific content (in particular  
> Dashboard widgets), but we had to implement the standard to support  
> content coded to Firefox. This really sucked and we have Dashboard- 
> specific hacks still lying around in our code base as a result.

I don't really think it's fair to bring this up as a negative.  Having  
the experiment adopted as a standard is a complete win.  That the  
transition from experiment to reality can be painful is just an  
inevitable consequence of a maturing standard.

CSS gradients are a good example.  The new syntax coming out of the  
CSS WG is way better, but none of it would have happened without the  
initial WebKit experiment.  Because of that experiment we're  
eventually going to have gradients in all browsers.  Will the  
transition be a bit painful?  Sure, but the end result is that we  
pushed the Web forward.

Now I don't know if GlobalScript falls into this category or not.  If  
no other browser vendors are interested in it, we should be pretty  
wary.  If we think the implementation of the feature can change their  
minds, though, then I'd say it's worth at least experimenting with.

What do other browser vendors think of this feature right now?


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