Tuesday, October 23, 2007

KHTML future

I've read Harri's blog about WebKit and I figured it makes sense for someone to respond. First of all I liked the blog, It was full of drama, action, despair, marketing and bad and good characters. Which is really what I'm looking for when reading fiction.

Especially the part that mentioned QtWebKit as an irrelevant fork of KHTML sources. That was awesome. It's the kind of imagination we need more of in the blogosphere. For the purposes of the point Harri was trying to make, which I think was "no matter what's the reality, our ego is bigger than yours", it was a well suited argument.

Describing the WebKit project as a fork of KHTML sources is like calling GCC a fork of EGCS, or to use a more popular analogy it's like calling chicken a fork of an egg. If you want to talk about forks then technically nowadays KHTML is a fork of WebKit. Not a terribly good one at that. It's real easy to back that statement up by comparing the number of submits to KHTML to the number of submits to WebKit. In fact that comparison is just embarrassing for KHTML.

I also found it funny that people like Lars Knoll, Simon Hausmann, George Staikos or myself are not part of the KHTML team. "We are the 'KHTML team' (except KHTML's author and ex-main developer Lars who's one of the biggest supporters of WebKit now and other people who used to work on KHTML but now work on WebKit as well... but they were all ugly... honestly!)" you can go make shirts with that.
We're working on WebKit now hence we're not KHTML team members. Any KDE developer who works on WebKit (hey, Niko, Rob, Adam, Enrico...) is automatically dissociated from the KHTML team.

The fact is that there is more KDE developers contributing to WebKit than there is KDE developers contributing to KHTML.

So since there's more of us, I think technically that means that we are the official KDE web engine team. KHTML team, we would love to work with you, the fork, but you're kind of a pain in the butt to deal with.

Which is ok, because like I mentioned a number of times KDE community lives of the "who does the work decides" dogma. And ultimately the Apple guys, the Trolltech guys, people from George's company who work on this stuff full-time and tons of Free Software contributors working on WebKit do much, much more work than people do on KHTML.

On a more serious note, let me explain a very important point: bug for bug compatibility with the latest Safari would be worth much, much more to KDE than any patches that are in KHTML and haven't been yet merged to WebKit could ever be worth.
Web works on the principle of percentages - web-designers test their sites with engines that have X% of market reach. Konqueror with stock KHTML isn't even on their radar. WebKit is. Having web designers cater towards their engine is worth more than gold to KDE users.

And if you care more about some personal grudges than the good of KDE, that's also OK, because we, the official KDE web rendering team will do what's right for KDE and use WebKit.