[webkit-dev] WebKit Wishes

Xan Lopez xan at gnome.org
Wed Jan 30 14:11:34 PST 2013

Hi Eric,

On Wed, Jan 30, 2013 at 10:28 PM, Eric Seidel <eric at webkit.org> wrote:
> I wish we didn’t have to worry about platforms we couldn’t test.
> It can’t be the job of the core maintainers to care about all the peripheral
> ports which contribute very little core code. Our code needs to be
> structured in such a manner that its easy for the core to march forward,
> while letting the ports catch up as they need to asynchronously.  Platform
> support code shouldn’t even need to be in webkit.org!  Porting webkit.org’s
> platform abstractions should be trivial, but core developers (which probably
> 90% of them use only 2 ports Mac WK2 + Chromium Linux) shouldn’t need to
> worry about keeping all ports working.

I agree this is a hard problem. Also a stressful situation to get
oneself into. Coming up with ways to allow port code to survive core
changes would be excellent for everyone, even for the "small ports"
people who hack on the core and also cannot easily test Mac WK2,
Chromium Linux or any other port.

> I write less out of pain, and more out of hope for the future.  I believe
> all of these are solvable problems, but I believe we need the will to solve
> them.  Apple’s recent announcement of WebKit2 lockdown is clearly one
> attempt at some of these.  But for the other 50% of WebKit developers who
> don’t work on WebKit2, locking down WebCore is not a good solution.

I agree the WebKit2 lockdown is one attempt at solving this, but
hopefully we can agree it's not a particularly innovative one.
Breaking builds and allowing bugs to pile up while they are fixed is a
nasty situation, one that historically we have tried really hard to
avoid for very well known reasons. I understand in the final analysis
allowing the core to move fast could be more important than having an
healthy ecosystem of minor ports without huge teams behind them, but I
really hope that this is only a temporary solution and that in the
future we'll be able to find better solutions like those that you
suggest in your email.

Also, on a personal note, I've been around for enough years to
remember the time when people trying to get ports started were eagerly
welcomed by Apple employees, who would go out of their way to help us
get started, review our patches when we had no reviewers in our team,
patiently explain this or that part of the code, etc. I made sure to
tell everyone I knew that WebKit was one of the most well managed open
source projects in existence, one of those rare combinations of
success and fidelity to some of the best values that open source
supposedly represents. It is with a bit of sadness that years later I
find that the same project (even the same people) now has a very
different attitude, and that long term contributors who I believe have
modestly helped to make this project more robust and popular are
mostly seen as part of a problem instead of as part of its thriving
community. I suppose wild success has some unfortunate costs.

In any case, I don't want to end on a pessimistic note. I'm sure
there's enough brilliance in this community to come up with better
solutions for everyone, including future ports that do not exist yet
but that might be very relevant in this world that moves at breakneck



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