[webkit-dev] WebKit branch to support multiple VMs (e.g., Dart)

Oliver Hunt oliver at apple.com
Mon Dec 5 19:28:31 PST 2011

I think there needs to be a compelling reason for a branch to exist (see the 'not an academic exercise'(or whatever) rule).
Let's say we have a feature X, where X would be a sufficiently complex feature to make working in trunk risky, and maybe even not possible (for example you could try to allow developers to provide paint routines of an element in JS *shudder*).

Because we believe the feature might actually be valuable, In that case the branch exists to allow the implementer to bring up the feature and verify that it's possible, and no one else will have to work around them.  At the end of branch dev. it's possible to look at the branch and decide if the feature is worth the cost the implementation has demonstrated and merge, to reimplement in trunk using the knowledge gained in branch dev, or to throw out the feature.

In this case the feature is exposing additional programming languages to the web, something without any real benefit to anyone other than fans of the current "most awesome" language (not too long ago that might have been Go, a year or so ago this would have been ruby, before than python, i recall i brief surge in haskell popularity not that long ago as well, Lua has been on the verges for a long time, in this case it's Dart -- who's to say there won't be a completely different language in vogue in 6 months?), but as a cost it fragments the web and adds a substantial additional maintenance burden -- just maintaining the v8 and jsc bindings isn't trivial and they're for the same language.

The issue here isn't "can we make multiple vms live in webkit" it's "can we expose multiple languages to the web", to the former i say obviously as we already do, to the latter I say that we don't want to.

Unless we want to turn webkit into the engine that everyone hates because of all its unique "features" that break the open web, a la certain browsers in the late 90s.


On Dec 5, 2011, at 7:11 PM, Ryosuke Niwa wrote:

> On Mon, Dec 5, 2011 at 7:01 PM, Oliver Hunt <oliver at apple.com> wrote:
> As the 90s demonstrated such "features" are bad for developers, and bad for the open web.  This may not be apparent to people who have not spent years working in the environment but random additions frequently cause significant pain down the road, even in the cases where the overall result was a "good" thing -- such as canvas - for the subsequent standardisation caused us quite a bit of compatibility problems, even though it was a very compact and contained api.
> I can't agree more.
> On the other hand, I feel bad to push back people from doing new experiments especially on branches. Do you have an alternative suggestion for Vijay and others to do (potentially) controversial experiments?
> - Ryosuke

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