Apple’s API Advantage

Vlad wrote about his work on improving Mac OS X performance (which is awesome by the way), and his findings from looking at WebKit code. To summarize WebKit utilizes some undocumented API’s (ironically from the same company that makes Mac OS X 😕 ) that give it an advantage over other software which can’t use them. This is pretty anti-competitive, and Microsoft-like in behavior. For a company that built it’s modern OS on an open source core, and it’s flagship browser (which is key to their mobile initiative) on an open source rendering engine (KHTML), you would think they would be a little more understanding about crippling platforms. Then again, look at the iPhone controversy regarding it being a closed platform (though that’s supposed to change next week, and I’ll be sure to blog about that).

Robert O’Callahan’s got a got a great blog post on some of his observations of things Mozilla would likely make good use of. He also mentions one thing worth quoting:

It’s worth reflecting that if Microsoft was doing this, they’d likely be hauled before a judge, in the EU if not the US. In fact I can’t recall Microsoft ever pulling off an undocumented-API-fest of this magnitude.

This is a very valid point which I 100% agree with. Microsoft wouldn’t get away with this.

Safari developer David Hyatt (former Mozilla developer from when Lizards roamed the earth) commented about this issue. Essentially he justifies the decision based on it not being a good practice to use some of these methods, and other aren’t even used anymore. This of course raises the question: Should Apple be deciding what other software developers can do, when they themselves can’t follow the same standards? I’d say that if WebKit feels it has to use it, there’s likely others out there in the same situation regardless of “best practice”.

See, I’m not too much of an Apple fanboy to criticize them 😉 .

Mozilla in KDE

This sounds really cool. I’d love for the chance to see it in action. Konqueror has a pretty nice light UI (it would feel awkward on anything but KDE, but for KDE it feels great). I’d love to give it a spin.

Personally I wish KDE would work a bit closer with Mozilla.org. Together with Opera, they make up the only chance against Microsoft the internet has. Not that Konqueror is a bad browser, but it’s not nearly up to snuff with support as Mozilla has (hence the reason why this is so cool). IMHO if they worked together on an engine,

It’s my understanding they also have MNG and SVG support. If these teams merged, to form 1 great rendering engine, it would really benefit both camps.

Would be nice if Apple hopped on the Gecko train as well.

Note: It’s still good that Apple and KDE are working on a standards compliant browser, I’m not insulting KHTML at all. My point is that they are working parallel, rather than in close union with the Mozilla Foundation. Mozilla had years of major funding by Netscape to allow it to become as robust and powerful as it is. If they utilize what’s there, and put their heads together, we would progress much quicker.

Just my humble opinion.

Edit: I’m still looking for 2 more people to help me get a free iPod. See this post. Just sign up, try an offer, and when it credits you cancel (if you don’t want the offer). Help your buddy Rob out!

Mozilla and GNOME

No doubt by now most have been reading up on the future of the Mozilla Foundation and the GNOME Foundation. A whole bunch of things are circulating. Some look very official, some sound official, some I question.

I’m personally 100% for the idea of GNOME and Mozilla Foundation working together. I think together they can avoid duplication, and more efficiently accomplish many things. Rather than work separately, and perhaps reinvent the wheel.

The idea has also come about that the two should perhaps merge. Personally, I’m not very confident that would be in the best interests of either foundation, and the web community in general. Here’s my personal reasoning, just to create discussion:

  • GNOME is focused on Linux. Mozilla is focused on cross platform. Being cross platform is one of Mozilla’s greatest assets. Neither should blur that focus. Both are important. Merging is a step towards Linux orienting, rather than orienting towards OS-neutral, which is where Mozilla should be.
  • Mozilla needs to keep focused on the web. GNOME needs to keep focused on the desktop environment. While they ultimately will meet at development, there will be separation for quite some time. Until then they should meet for the overlap. Each needs to focus on their specialization. There is overlap, but without question they are still separate, and won’t be 100% merged for years still. Remember, several years back we were all promised web kiosks. Still hasn’t happened.

Where could they really work together?

  • Well, remember that web kiosk? Think how well GNOME’s usability and UNIX experience could team up with Mozilla Gecko. It’s a match made in heaven. It’s the way it should have always been done.
  • XAML/Avalon – it’s quite a large undertaking. And both would benefit from a shared implementation. But again, each should orient towards their own (platform independence and GNOME’s desktop environment).

Ultimately, there is a lot to share, but I’m a bit hesitant to believe they would benefit from joining 100%. I think the alliance would be best as Apple and KDE over KHTML. They should share and share. But each has a different target. And each works towards their target. But when there is overlap, they do together. I’m hesitant to think that merging would be effective. A group can only have so many goals. I think some would have to be sacrificed in a merger. By staying separate they can harvest the benefits of cooperation, but still achieve their goals.

Mozilla as a browser on all platforms can convince many that they don’t need commercial apps, and break the windows ties. GNOME is apparently the next step in going Open Source in the workplace. See together they can complement each other. But as one, I’m not sure they would be able to cover all the bases. A baseball team doesn’t put all the players together. They spread out. But when needed, they help each other out, covering bases, etc.

Anyway. This is just my personal reflection thinking out loud. I’m curious what others think. This will change the industry in one way or another. I’m positive on that.

Apple Helping out Mozilla

Very interesting developments lately regarding Apple and Mozilla. At first, it appeared the groups were closer than they appeared. Rumor was that iBrowser (known as Safari now), was going to use then Chimera (now Camino) as it’s basis. Ended up Apple used KHTML, and some claimed it made them “compete”, though most including myself believe any standards compliant engine is good.

Now Pinkerton makes a very interesting find:

Apple has started bundling NSPR and NSS in Panther

From November 3, 2003 @ 10:38 PM

So Apple apparently is providing some sort of Aid for Mozilla technologies. But that’s not all.

David Hyatt notes his work on Safari:

(5) A complete implementation of the XUL box model. Safari on Panther supports the complete XUL box model, including horizontal and vertical boxes, the ability to flex, and the ability to reorder content and reverse content. If you’re building canned content that you control using WebKit, you’ll find a whole new range of layout possibilities at your disposal. Need to create dynamically sized headers and footers and flexible center content? The XUL box model can do that. Need to center an object within the viewport? The XUL box model can do that too.

From October 28, 2003 @ 12:48 AM

Henrik Gemal also notes XUL support in Safari.

Ok, I found it interesting. Perhaps someone else will as well.