[webkit-dev] Writing a new XML parser with no external libraries

Oliver Hunt oliver at apple.com
Wed Jun 29 09:22:49 PDT 2011

I think considerable effort should be put into building up a suite of performance tests in advance of the new parser (probably culled from xml encountered in the wild, but also a number of extreme edge cases wouldn't go a miss either).

We should also put effort into reducing any/all recursion in the parser as stack depth guards are not the most efficient mechanism to prevent stack overflows.


On Jun 28, 2011, at 6:12 PM, Jeffrey Pfau wrote:

> Currently, WebCore uses libxml2, or, if available, QtXml to parse incoming XML. However, QtXml isn't always available, and using libxml2 exposes its own share of problems. As such, I'm undertaking writing an XML parser that uses no external libraries.
> The first step to doing this is to add a new flag that switches off the other two parsers. As the parsers are already independent and can be switched between by checking USE(QXMLSTREAM), I am adding USE(LIBXML2) checks, replacing the #else conditionals, and also a new ENABLE check, tentatively called NEW_XML (although names such as NATIVE_XML or XML_NATIVE, etc, may be more appropriate).
> As there will probably be a new slew of files pertaining to XML parsing, I will put these files in WebCore/xml/parser, and move the existing XMLDocumentParser* file into this new directory. As far as I know, the placement of these files in WebCore/dom/ is legacy, and, assuming the build on each platform is changed, it makes sense to move them.
> Once all the files are in a logical place, I plan to make a new file for a skeleton of the new XMLDocumentParser, at least to get it to link until a real one is in place, even if the XML parser at that point is just a data sink.
> From there, I plan to copy and modify a good chunk of the lower level HTML tokenization and parsing code, and make changes as necessary to make it work on generalized XML, at least until I can generalize the common code in such a way that the HTML and XML tokenizers can be subclasses and use common code. I'd probably do the refactoring at the end.
> I'm still exploring the existing parsing code, but I'd probably work my way up from there. I've read a lot of the XML 1.0 spec in preparation, as well, but it doesn't have much on implementation itself. If QtWebKit or parsing people have any comments, concerns, or help, I'd be more than willing to listen--I'm just starting here, and I'm not completely familiar with the codebase.
> Although no code is checked in so far, I've started on this list already and have gotten as far as the new flags, a skeleton XMLDocumentParserNew.cpp, and making a tokenizer that compiles and links, but is completely untested.
> Jeffrey Pfau
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