(another) WebKit port of Browse

Jim Gettys jg at laptop.org
Tue Jul 8 12:32:57 EDT 2008

Let me summarize where I think we are and/or should go and try to put
this into some context:

0) good rendering onto our high resolution screen is very important to
us; this is why we went with a Gecko based web browser in the first
place.  Before we moved to the development builds of gecko/xulrunner, we
had terrible issues with many web site's rendering. I don't know whether
or not WebKit supports scaling at this date, but it is a question well
worth asking.  This new version of Gecko etc. are slated for our next
release and are in current development builds. What is WebKit's current

1) memory usage is a very high concern to us.  The recent work on
FF/Gecko's memory consumption and leak plugging (as reported all over
the web) is outstanding, and they should be commended for this work.
This improvement should be reflected in the current development build.
And this has a major impact on our usability.

2) the lack of a certificate UI has hampered our Browse usage primarily
in G1G1 developed world situations: this tells me while it is of
concern, it's not as high priority as some other issues might be,
certainly lower than 0) or 1).  This could be satisfied by adding UI to
browse, I believe.

3) Sayamindu has made good progress toward swapping out Matchbox in
favor of a conventional window manager; once this is complete, we can
satisfy 2) at worst, by those who need it installing a standard Firefox;
one could go up from there by using a Sugar theme, to XUL chrome
modifications of arbitrary ambition; or installing your favorite web
browser of choice.  This work to replace Matchbox won't make this
release, but I expect be planned on thereafter.

4) alternative browsers are always welcome; but, to make it as our
default browser, it needs to:
    - address our rendering concerns for our screen.
    - have competitive memory performance
    - provide sharing features for classroom work (note that
	providing only an unmodified conventional browser won't 
	currently have these facilities).
Additional goodness would be to have a single HTML rendering engine for
everything, to save flash space, and the certificate UI we're missing.

I can also anticipate Javascript performance may become an issue as its
use continues to increase.

                 - Jim

Jim Gettys <jg at laptop.org>
One Laptop Per Child

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