[webkit-dev] GlobalScript in WebKit
mjs at apple.com
Mon Nov 30 14:17:26 PST 2009
On Nov 30, 2009, at 1:58 PM, David Hyatt wrote:
> 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.
The transition could have been somewhat less painful if we'd gotten
more review on <canvas> before shipping it in product. But I do agree
that overall, <canvas> is a technology success story even if the path
there was painful for us.
> 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.
Probably much less pain than <canvas> for a couple of reasons:
(a) We started getting outside review before shipping in product.
(b) The CSS prefixing convention makes it easier to support
preliminary syntax at relatively low cost.
> 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?
My impression was they weren't really into it but we could always ask
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