[webkit-gtk] ABI compatibility between releases

Grant Gayed Grant_Gayed at ca.ibm.com
Thu May 5 15:09:51 PDT 2011


I maintain the Eclipse project's SWT Browser control, which last year 
switched from using Gecko to WebKitGTK (1.2 at the time).  The main motive 
for this transition was a desire to use a native renderer that would not 
break us with every release (Gecko was doing this).  With WebKitGTK 1.4 
now out there I see that the API has been reasonably preserved but binary 
compatibility has not, and as a result our latest service release from 
three months ago already fails on Linux distros that ship WebKitGTK 1.4, 
because our library was compiled against 1.2.  We're now looking at 
shipping two versions of our webkit library, one compiled against 
WebKitGTK 1.2 and the other against 1.4, in order to support older and 
newer linux releases.  My question is, is ABI breakage going to be a 
recurring pattern with each WebKitGTK release?

Most of the other libraries that SWT uses (gtk2, atk, glib, etc.) have not 
broken us in 10 years of use, as they maintain API and ABI compatibility 
as a policy.  Maintaining ABI compatibility may not matter when a client 
app is being shipped with a linux distro, but it greatly affects software 
that users download rather than using a version that's bundled with their 
OS.  I assume there are other apps out there that also become broken by 
changes like this (?).  Is there any will to maintain binary compatibility 
in future WebKitGTK releases?  To do so would do a great service to your 
client apps (or at least one of them :-) ).

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