[webkit-dev] JS bindings: Adding EventTarget to the prototype chain

Dominic Cooney dominicc at chromium.org
Wed Jun 8 17:54:29 PDT 2011

[If you don't care about JSC or V8 bindings you can safely ignore

TL;DR I want to change the JavaScript bindings to put EventTarget on
the prototype chain so it is easier to work with event targets from
JavaScript. What do you think?

Here is the prototype chain for a button today:

(add/removeEventListener and dispatchEvent are on Node.)

Here is how I think we should make it look:

(addEventListener etc. are on EventTarget.)

Here’s why I think we should do this:

- Specs are moving towards specifying EventTarget as living on the
prototype chain. DOM Core*, Notifications, Indexed DB, SVG and XHR
already do it this way. (* Editor’s draft.)

- Frameworks that want to hook add/removeEventListener will be able to
do it in one place: on EventTarget.prototype. In WebKit today they
have to hook the prototypes of window, Node, XMLHttpRequest, etc.
individually (Because WebKit implements EventTarget as a mixin
everywhere, there are 20+ different kinds of event targets to hook if
you want to be comprehensive.) If we make this change, it gets easier
to tell if a given object is an EventTarget; just do

- It will modestly simplify WebKit’s IDLs and bindings. Instead of
declaring addEventListener in two dozen places in IDLs, it will be in
one place; instead of calling visitJSEventListeners in dozens of
places for JSC GC, it will be called in one place; instead of assuming
that EventTarget parameters are all Node* under the covers for V8 code
generation, we can treat EventTargets uniformly; instead of
redundantly specifying EventTarget on Document and Node inheritance
will do what you want; etc.

Will doing this break the web? I don’t think so:

Anyone who calls or hooks addEventListener, etc. will continue to
work, just their foo.addEventListener might be resolved at one level
higher up the prototype chain than it is today. To really observe the
different placement of addEventListener, etc. minutely you need to
access __proto__ and hasOwnProperty. Other browsers are already differ
from WebKit in this regard, too: For example, Firefox reports
addEventListener is an own property on *every* step in the prototype
chain of DOM objects (until Object.)

Scripts that squirrel up the prototype chain themselves will see one
more link (EventTarget’s) but it is towards the top of the chain, past
most prototypes they care about (every prototype except Object.)

I tried changing half of the EventTargets in WebKit to put EventTarget
in the prototype chain, including Node and XHR (but not window) and
used it to surf the web for a few days. I didn’t notice anything break

There is also the possibility that this could hurt performance,
because accessing addEventListener, etc. will have to search more
prototypes (usually just one more.) Accessing the properties of Object
on an event target via the prototype chain will have to squirrel
through one more prototype (EventTarget’s.) So I prototyped this
change in the JSC bindings and put EventTarget in the prototype chain
of a number of event targets in WebKit, including Node. Here are the
results for Dromaeo’s dom and jslib tests:


(141811 on the left is the status quo.)

I expect the Prototype and jQuery events benchmarks are of particular
interest, and the result looks particularly bad for Prototype (~3%
slowdown). So I reran <http://dromaeo.com/?event> half a dozen times,
and couldn’t produce the poor result for Prototype; on average the
prototype was 1.0% slower for Prototype and 0.5% slower for jQuery. I
think Dromaeo is too noisy for measuring something as fine as this.

So I wrote three microbenchmarks:

1. Add/remove click listener on a button.

2. Add/remove progress listener on an XHR.

3. Test property presence with 'in':

if ('dispatchEvent' in target)
// return n outside of loop

where target is an XMLHttpRequest and n is a local var n = 0.

Here are the results. A brief note on methodology: release build
running in Mac Safari, JSC, averaging 500 samples with 1,000,000
iterations of the inner loop per sample.

1. Add/remove on button
Before (ms): min=409, median=434, mean=434.4, max=472
After (ms): min=410, median=453.5, mean=452.4, max=497 (mean is 1.04x)

2. Add/remove on XHR
Before (ms): min=286, median=298, mean=298.6, max=315
After (ms): min=287, median=300.5, mean=300.7, max=320 (mean is 1.01x)

3. 'dispatchEvent' in XHR
Before (ms): min=85, median=88, mean=87.7, max=91
After (ms): min=89, median=91, mean=91.0, max=95 (mean is 1.04x)

So this shows that, yes, this is not free, but it is low-single
digits. Since adding and removing event listeners is a relatively
infrequent operation, I think this is OK. I want to emphasize that the
change I’m proposing has no impact on native event *dispatch*, which
is obviously a lot more performance-sensitive than adding and removing
event listeners.

There is the question of maintenance: Making EventTarget an
Objective-C class is a public API change, so some of the #ifdef-ing
for Objective-C in IDLs will remain to avoid that. This change doesn’t
need to touch EventTarget on the C++ side; the existing design works
well with this new shape of binding.

As I mentioned above, there are a number of little clean-ups and
simplifications this makes possible. I can tackle this incrementally,
although unfortunately most of the clean-up is contingent on the old
way of mixing in EventTarget being completely replaced.

What do you think?

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