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

Jarred Nicholls jarred at webkit.org
Tue Dec 6 05:10:17 PST 2011

On Tue, Dec 6, 2011 at 5:55 AM, Anton Muhin <antonm at chromium.org> wrote:

> Good day, everyone!
> I am sorry if it didn't sound clear enough in our original message,
> but we're not proposing a new language support, but we're proposing a
> patch which allows others runtimes to run along with JS in the
> browser.
> Of course, we're doing this because of our work on Dart, but our
> intent was to solicit a feedback from the WebKit community if there is
> any interest in supporting runtimes additional to JS (and not JS +
> Dart) in the first place.
> And we're not only talking about the browsers proper, our hope was,
> for example, that people embedding WebKit into apps may benefit from
> hopefully tight integration or, another idea, if we can provide better
> isolation for JS proper using similar approach.
> And sure, this patch--- https://bugs.webkit.org/show_bug.cgi?id=73897
> ---is only a tiny step in this direction---Fillip is absolutely right
> that integrating several GCing VMs is tricky---we're pretty much aware
> of this and hope we can address this, but, again, the patch is only
> initial infrastructure to enable more than a single runtime.
> If consensus in the community is nobody needs more than JS runtime in
> the browser (for any reason), so it be---we looked for feedback from
> the community and we got it.  If the community response is idea is
> good, but you need to account for..., great, we're happy to do that.
> Maybe it'll make this patch feel less experimental and Geoff would be
> less reluctant to see it on the branch.

It would be easier to just host the branch in a mirror somewhere else,
continue experiments there, and report back to the community.  Many others
do this, e.g., Samsung and WebCL.

> And I can definitely understand concerns which are raised by Dart in
> the browser, but I really hope it's a separate issue.
> Thank you very much all for your feedback!
> yours,
> anton.
> On Tue, Dec 6, 2011 at 8:24 AM, Oliver Hunt <oliver at apple.com> wrote:
> > No.  People are using EcmaScript on the web.
> >
> > They have languages that compile to EcmaScript as an intermediate
> language.  Dart could also do this (emscripten demonstrates that raw C can
> be compiled to EcmaScript), so if people wished they could do that.  These
> are also not a significant proportion of websites at all.  If we were to
> decide to support one of these natively it would make sense to support the
> most popular and widely used languages, but currently none of the languages
> that compile to ES have made any significant headway -- mostly because ES
> is actually a pretty good language (yes it has rough edges, but the same is
> true of _all_ languages).
> >
> > Adding direct and exposed support for a non-standard language is hostile
> to the open-web by skipping any form "consensus" driven language
> development that might happen (say the path taken by json2.js -> the native
> JSON object), and foisting whatever language we want on the web instead.
> > This implicitly puts any browser that supports additional proprietary
> extensions in the same position as a browser supporting something like
> vbscript, and has the same effect: breaking the open web by making content
> that only works effectively in a single product.
> >
> > For example back in the 90s Netscape had a feature called "layers" any
> browser could display the pages, but they would only look "good" in
> netscape.  If we were to natively support some other language on the web
> say OliversAwesomeWebLanguage, and provided a tool to compile OAWL to ES
> any site that used OAWL would perform significantly worse on other browsers
> than on our own (this is a given as the only argument in favour of native
> support vs. compilation to JS is that native support is meant faster than
> going through JS).
> >
> > If OAWL did become a big enough platform then other vendors _might_ end
> up reversing engineering it and reimplementing it themselves, put us back
> in the position of the 90s browsers and the many variants of what is now
> called EcmaScript.
> >
> > On Dec 5, 2011, at 10:43 PM, Vijay Menon wrote:
> >
> >> On Mon, Dec 5, 2011 at 7:28 PM, Oliver Hunt <oliver at apple.com> wrote:
> >>>
> >>> 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.
> >>
> >> People are already using multiple languages on the web.  E.g.,
> >>
> https://github.com/jashkenas/coffee-script/wiki/List-of-languages-that-compile-to-JS
> .
> >> Native runtime support is a natural next step.
> >>
> >> WebKit does support multiple VMs, but it does not support them
> >> concurrently at runtime.  That is essentially what we want to enable.
> >
> > WebKit does support multiple bindings concurrently at runtime -- a lot
> of mac clients make use of the obj-c dom bindings while JS is executing,
> some also make use of the JS<->ObjC bridge so that you have two different
> sets of bindings for the same objects at the same time, being used together
> in beautiful harmony ;)
> >
> >>
> >> Cheers,
> >>
> >> Vijay
> >
> > --Oliver
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