inessential by Brent Simmons

Major kudos for WebKit Open Source

I’m so pleased to see that WebKit has gone open source.

For me, as a developer whose apps rely heavily on WebKit, this is very likely the best possible news I could have gotten at this year’s WWDC.

My interest is pretty simple: I want bugs in WebKit to get fixed, so my apps work better.

I get reports of mis-rendered pages—and reports of crashing bugs—that are WebKit bugs. My response until now has always been along the lines of, “Darn, that’s a WebKit bug, and I don’t have access to the source. If I can get some more details from you I might be able to reproduce it and report it to Apple.”

It’s kind of a bummer of a response, not much better than throwing my hands in the air.

But now my responses can be more like this: “It’s a WebKit bug. If you can send me more details, I might be able to reproduce it—and develop test cases and perhaps even fix the bug myself.”

This is a much better response. And it gives me more power over the quality of my software.

It means more eyeballs on WebKit, better testing, more bug fixes. So if I report a bug with a test case, and it gets fixed, then other developers benefit. If another developer reports a bug, and it gets fixed, then we benefit—and, most importantly, NetNewsWire and MarsEdit users benefit.

This is an example of the kind of openness that in years past we didn’t get from Apple—but these days are very different and very much better.

I just wanted to publicly thank the WebKit folks for doing this. Thank you!