C|NET Article Examines Apple’s Choice Of Browser Engines For Safari

| News

When Steve Jobs told the world that Apple had created another browser many could have sworn they heard a collective, "Huh?"

Appleis first attempt at making its own web browser, Cyberdog, met with mixed reviews and was ultimately canned, though there are still many who believe Cyberdog was a browser too far ahead of its time.

This time Apple eschewed internal browser development and went in search of a top notch standard on which to base Safari, its newest browser. Apple engineers literally could have picked anything on which to base Safari, including the Gecko rendering engine which powers the latest versions of Netscape, Mozilla, and Chimera, but the company instead picked open source KHTML. According to a C|Net article titled Apple snub stings Mozilla, Apple picked KHTML purely on its technical merits and not for any political reasons, as some may believe. From the C|Net article.

In an e-mail congratulating KHTML engineers on their work and its selection by Apple, Safariis engineering manager touted the technology over Mozilla and its rendering engine, Gecko.

"When we were evaluating technologies over a year ago, KHTML and KJS stood out," Safari Engineering Manager Don Melton wrote. (KJS is KDEis JavaScript interpreter.) "Not only were they the basis of an excellent, modern and standards-compliant Web browser, they were also less than 140,000 lines of code. The size of your code and ease of development within that code made it a better choice for us than other open-source projects."

Despite its diplomatic tone and anonymous reference, Mozilla veterans read between the lines of Meltonis message.

In a Web log , Mozilla founder and former evangelist Jamie Zawinski said Apple is bad-mouthing Mozilla.

"Translated through a de-weaselizer, (Meltonis e-mail) says: iEven though some of us used to work on Mozilla, we have to admit that the Mozilla code is a gigantic, bloated mess, not to mention slow, and with an internal API so flamboyantly baroque that frankly we canit even comprehend where to begin,i" Zawinski wrote.

One Mozilla staff member called KHTML selection an understandable if not foregone conclusion, given Mozillais technical problems.

"I guess Iim supposed to be mortally offended--or at least embarrassed--that they went with KHTML instead of our Gecko engine, but Iim having trouble working up the indignation," wrote Mike Shaver in a Web log posting . "Weive all known forever that Gecko missed its ismall-and-leani target by an area code, and weive been slogging back towards the goal, dragging our profilers and benchmarks behind us, for years."

Read the full article at C|Net News.

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