With 632 commits to the WebKit repository, and 608 towards the Chromium one -totalling 1240 commits-, it was a busy week. Safari seems to be gearing up for a new minor release, and Google pushed Chrome 7 to users participating in the beta-channel. Google also published a page explaining the differences between extensions, Packaged Applications and Hosted Applications.
Nikolas Zimmermann has done some amazing work on WebKit’s SVG implementation: almost all SVG Text layout-code has been rewritten. Because of this change, text in SVG files already consumes much less memory and performs better than it used to do. By splitting the layout process for texts into three phases rather than a single one, future patches can add various forms of caching. This will improve the rendering performance even more.
Following the WebM project, which provides a free and open-source video codec, Google has announced WebP: an image format based on VP8’s intra-frame techniques. According to Google’s announcement, using WebP will reduce the size of your images by an average of 39%, compared to today’s image formats.
In reality, I’m not so sure. Jason Garrett-Glaser, an x264 developer, concluded that the quality is poor, and that Google’s timing for announcing the format is odd. Jacob Miller, obviously being less biased, concluded that the compression schema indeed outperforms JPEG, but that WebP isn’t ready for real-world usage yet.
I absolutely agree that the timing surrounding this announcement is weird. There are some important features not (yet) available in WebP which could prove to be decisive in the success of the image format. I’m mainly talking about the limited file size it supports (a maximum of 16383 by 16383 pixels), no support for storing lossless images and no transparency (nor translucency?). For a future-proof image format, Google could also have looked at supporting other color-spaces (possibly even non-RGB, like the CIE XYZ one). It makes me think like the announcement was a bit rushed, especially due to a sentence starting with “we plan to add”…
In my opinion, one of the primary things lacking for web development was a convenient way to modify the classes which applied to an element. While jQuery offered some excellent methods to do so, a proper native way wasn’t available. For that reason HTML5 introduces the “classList” property, which provices such an interface to each element on your page. While support for the property was added to Firefox well over a year ago, Erik Arvidsson added support to WebKit last Monday!
Other changes this week include:
Starting next Thursday, Fronteers 2010 will be taking place at Pathé Tuschinski in Amsterdam. With speakers like Håkon Wium Lie, Christian Heilmann and Jeremy Keith it’s bound to become a success :). Finally, thanks to Finnur Thorarinsson for informing me about the issue, the Chromium Command-Line Flag RSS Feed will now properly include added arguments. They previously were included as if they got removed.
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With the addition of another 552 commits in the last week, Chromium has breached the milestone of sixty thousand commits! In comparison, revision 60.000 landed in WebKit exactly four months ago. WebKit gained the contents of 539 commits last week, done by about a hundred different authors.
Support for the ping attribute on anchors (<a ping>) has been added in WebKit four days ago, following Firefox who had an implementation about four years ago. There are various ways to do this already, overriding the click-event and send out a ping using XHR, for example. The feature is still disabled by default, although a command line flag might be added in the near feature.
One of the things Adam Barth is currently working on is an URL API. Citing it, the API can be used for constructing, parsing and resolving URLs through scripting, easening up tasks like getting and setting parameters. Today the first part landed in WebKit, which added the “origin” property.
I’ve got quite some plans for the post next week, as I realize this one is lacking some graphical love. Until then, don’t forget that there’s an RSS Feed available for updates to Chromium’s command line flags, which could certainly give you a nice indication of what the team’s been working on!
Thanks to Ms2ger for a correction: Mozilla did not disable the ping attribute by default due to privacy concerns, but rather because the specification changed shortly before the Firefox 3 release.
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Well over 200 developers added value to the Chromium and WebKit projects last week, delivering a combined total of 1018 patches to the repositories. Different from a week ago, there weren’t any huge noticeable changes this week. Most work was part of larger projects or stability and performance improvements.
Still, there have been a few updates related to standard support. The document.lastModified property was updated according to HTML5 last Tuesday, the Canvas Context will now parse system colors and work on supporting the “block-flow” and “writing-mode” CSS properties seems to have been started.
More work has been completed last week on Google’s effort to move the options dialogs to webpages. You can enable the tabbed options page yourself by supplying the –enable-tabbed-options flag to Chrome or going to the about:labs page if you’re running Google Canary or Chromium. Furthermore, information and screenshots about the new History UI are available as well. Check out issue 52697 and the new designs.
Are you one of the poor folks working at a company which uses Internet Explorer as their primary browser, as well as (group) policies to severely limit your freedom? Good news! In the future you might be using Google Chrome with (group) policies which severely limit your freedom! The team seems to be gearing up in order to make their browser more interesting for larger organizations, as can be seen on the Documentation for Administrators page on the Chromium website, including quick-start guides for Windows, Apple and Linux.
Other changes in Chromium and WebKit last week:
And that’s it for this week! Keep in mind, if you’d like to see people like Brendan Eich, Steve Faulkner, Christian Heilmann, Paul Irish and Jeremy Keith speaking about the web, there’s only a few tickets left for Fronteers 2010. The conference will take place on the 7th and 8th of October in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Finally, a big Thank You to Steve Souders and Juriy Zaytsev for commenting on the <script> loading graph!
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With just over a thousand commits in the last seven days, the majority of which were pushed towards the WebKit repository, activity seems to be slightly down in comparison with the previous weeks. Nevertheless, last week brought some interesting changes: changes to the script element, CSS timing functions and Hardware Acceleration for the masses.
On Wednesday Google made an announcement which was quite hard to miss: Google Instant. Google Search anticipates on what you’re going to search for and starts displaying results while you’re still typing. Chrome now features a similar possibility named match preview, although I think Chrome Instant sounds more appropriate. You can enable it by supplying the –enable-match-preview flag when launching Chromium, but keep in mind that the implementation still is rather rough.
Since the new HTML5 Parser and Tree Builder in WebKit kept timed script execution in mind, Tony Gentilcore was able to land support for <script async> only a few days after he added support for the defer attribute. To re-iterate, using the defer-attribute defers executing the script to after parsing the page has been completed. The async-attribute enables asynchronous execution of the script as soon as it’s available, therefore not blocking the parser.
Following the discussions of the face-to-face meeting of the CSS Working Group three weeks ago, Apple’s Dean Jackson modified the CSS3 Transitions and Animations modules to include a new timing function called “steps“. The name is fairly obvious: instead of having a continuous transition, the selected properties transition in a predefined number of steps. This timing function landed in WebKit last Thursday!
Other updates which occurred in WebKit and Chromium last week include:
Finally, for the ones of you who like to be up-to-date as well, I’ve added RSS feeds for my Vendor Prefixed CSS Properties page (feed) and the overview pages of Google Chrome Command Line Switches (feed). Since most content on these pages gets updated automatically, I figured this would be a nice addition. While I cannot guarantee that they already work perfectly at this point, in theory they should be fine. See you next week!
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Exactly 625 days after the release of the first stable version, the Google Chrome browser has hit an important milestone: over 10% of the internet users -about 197 million people- use Chrome as their browser. That equals about 315 thousand new users every day, which is rather mind blowing if you ask me. Being well aware of this, the Chromium and WebKit teams were responsible for another 1.137 commits in the last week!
The sixth major version of Google Chrome has been released as a stable version, bringing support for tons of new features and better performance and stability. Furthermore, for a brief moment it looked like Chromium would be getting an auto-updater. While this is something people have been asking for ever since the first Chromium builds were released, it looks like Google Canary will remain to be closest to that idea.
Hardware Acceleration already has been available in WebKit for a few months, but work continues to optimize performance. Now that 2D Canvasses may be accelerated too, work has been started on adding tessellation following Loop and Blinn’s algorithm. While this has caused quite some discussion, the first parts, including the polygon tessellator from OpenGL, have already landed. More details on the implementation being used are available as well.
As for new HTML and CSS related features, Tony Gentilcore added support for delayed script execution using the defer attribute. Furthermore, percentages may now be used as values for the border-radius CSS property. The used radius will be equal to the given percentage of the width or height of it’s border-box.
- Video elements no longer automatically loop after playback has completed.
- Enabling accelerated compositing in Chromium won’t make your scrollbar blue anymore.
- Synchronous File Reader operations may now be used in Web Workers.
- Clicking on a WebKit Notification now fires a click event.
- The implementation of the Audio API in WebKit is being moved to the main development branch.
- Scripts have been added to generate ADMX and ADML files for enterprise policies.
- Chrome’s ready to run an entirely sandboxed (thus safe!) instance of Adobe Flash.
- The experimental sidebar view (and API) is now available for Mac OS X users as well.
- Text on the badge of an extension has a decent font size again (or too big this time?)
- Audio Recording for speech input fields is now available for Linux as well, via ALSA.
A bit technical this week, I realize that 🙂 For this week it looks like accelerated compositing and 3D CSS will be enabled by default and work on full-screen video could come closer to being finished. With Firefox implementing 3D CSS as well, I’m curious about the demos which surely could be arriving soon now.
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Last week the CSS Working Group met at Opera’s office in Oslo, Norway, for a face to face meeting. Following tight planning, the members met three days in a row discussing topics ranging from the open CSS 2.1 issues, various CSS 3 modules and other subjects such as hit testing. Some of the results are clear: all open CSS 2.1 issues have been resolved and a range of specifications will have their priority increased (such as CSS Transitions and Transforms).
Furthermore, CSS 2.1 is expected to become a Proposed Recommendation by the end of the year. This would mean that the specification could be a W3C Recommendation early next year, allowing the working group to focus their attention to CSS 3 and beyond. During the meeting Mozilla’s David Baron also mentioned that Firefox will be implementing 3D Transforms, already available in Safari and Google Chrome.
As for Chromium and WebKit, a combined amount of 1282 commits were uploaded to their repositories. While this means there were fewer commits than to last week, there’s a lot more news to share about the projects. I’ll highlight some interesting items which occurred last week, and briefly list other interesting changes.
Firstly, it’s becoming more and more obvious to the Chrome team that their browser is lacking important features for the enterprise market. An area Google can tackle is policies. Policies are a way of defining the settings of the browser through the registry, Microsoft’s Administrative Template files or the, so far unannounced, ChromeOS Enterprise Daemon. Other policy and preference stores may be added in the future.
Another large update is the initial inclusion of the Google Chrome Labs page. Most other Google products, as well as Google itself, include a page with experimental features. Considering Chrome supports about 320 command line flags it won’t surprise you that adding such a page makes certain tests a lot more accessible. Google’s Nico Weber committed the initial version just over four days ago. You can try it out yourself by downloading a recent nightly and visiting about:labs.
The WebKit team has invested a lot of time in improving their support for various standards. Adam Barth and Eric Seidel enabled the last part of the new HTML5 Tree Builder: fragment parsing. Furthermore support for HTML5 compliant doctype switching was added, symbolic CSS3 list-style-types are now supported and file inputs now respect HTML5’s fake path. Finally, due to this addition, you can now use HTML5’s date input types to start making plans for your birthday in the year 275759.
Now that the new Tree Builder has been completed, except for a lot of fine-tuning of course, thousands of lines of code were up for deletion. The old Tree Builder itself wast removed on the 24th of August. Further cleanups were done with the removal of their current implementation of Mozilla’s XML Binding Language (XBL). It hadn’t been maintained in years, so the decision was made to remove it in total.
Further updates last week
Starting next Thursday I will be in Brighton, United Kingdom. Together with Krijn, Anne and Matijs I’ll be attending dConstruct 2010. Perhaps I’ll be seeing you there? 🙂
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It’s hard to keep track of huge open source projects which receive hundreds of updates per week. In case of WebKit and Chromium, a total of 1113 changes were landed in the past seven days alone, including lots of new features, enhancements and of course tons of bugfixes. Inspired by Paul Irish and Divya Manian, I’m going to experiment to see whether it’s doable to regularly write (smaller) updates like these.
In the past seven days WebKit has seen 396 commits done by about 80 authors. A decent number of them were done by Google engineers working on storage related systems. Firstly there is the File API specification; Chromium has been supporting various asynchronous File Reader functions for a few months now.
Last Thursday Eric Uhrhane committed the first part of the File Writer spec. Even though it’s only a placeholder, it shows that Google’s actively working on implementing the features. Official word on synchronous methods is still pending.
The other storage system they’re working on is a specification I wasn’t aware of myself, a Directories and System extension to the File API. The initial bits of the implementation were committed by Kinuko Yasuda on Monday. Being built entirely on top of the File API, it’s likely that the main use-case for the implementation will be Chromium OS. Regardless, most of the use-cases would be useful in current browsers as well.
Folks at Apple have been busy with improving the quality of the WebKit2 interface. Windowless plugins can now paint and receive mouse events, which means that the Vimeo Flash Player can be used again on Windows builds. A number of improvements for the media playback have been added as well, such as improved handling of detection of the “application/octet-stream” content-type, as well as restoring the intrinsic size of a video after loading its poster. Simon Fraser solved a number of random crashes which became more obvious now that accelerated compositing has been implemented.
Also exciting news is, even though it has been working for a while already, that support for inline MathML has been announced for Safari nightlies. MathML is a way of rendering complex math straight in your browser, pretty much like SVG is for graphics. MathML can be, just like SVG, included in any HTML5 page. Henri Sivonen has created a nice example demonstrating both technologies.
Within the Chromium team work is hard on its way to perfectly integrate ANGLE into the browser. DirectX libraries will be distributed with the Windows versions and a public experiment has started to gather statistics about GPU capabilities. The browser also received per-plugin content settings, although it’s still protected behind a runtime flag.
Other recent changes
Of course, with a total of 1113 commits in both repositories, there’s a lot which hasn’t been mentioned yet!
- Eric and Tony have solved some more issues around the HTML5 Tree Builder.
- The Qt port now supports touch events in WebKit2, courtesy of Juha Savolainen.
- Chromium’s accelerated compositing rendering logic has been refactored.
- Kenneth Russell now is a WebKit reviewer (congratulations!).
- Some SVG Pattern fixes were landed by Nikolas Zimmermann.
- Pushed SPDY streams in Chromium now get closed automatically as well.
- Accelerated Compositing for <canvas> will be compiled in by default.
- Chromium can now use the Windows 7 Location Provider for Geolocation.
Even though it’s just a week, an incredible amount of work happens within these two huge open source projects. In order to include other browsers (Firefox, Opera and Internet Explorer) and specifications, I’ll have to cut back on the details quite a bit. This week the CSS Working Group is meeting face-to-face in Oslo, I’m sure that’ll be interesting to include next week
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