The unforking of KDE's KHTML and Webkit
July 24, 2007 1 Comment
One of the core tenants of Open Source is the ability to fork. That being said, it should really be seen as a last resort type of option. It’s good to see that a couple of “unforks” have happened recently. A short time ago, Beryl and Compiz were able to come to an amicable resolution and rejoin as Compiz Fusion. More recently KHTML and WebKit look to be coming back together. From the article:
There is one major web rendering engine that grew entirely out of the open source world: KHTML is KDE’s web renderer which was built from the ground up by the open source community with very little original corporate backing. The code was good and branches were born as a result, the best known being Webkit. Now, after years of split, KHTML and Webkit are coming together once again.
Now, KHTML won’t be deleted right away since there are features in it that need to be ported into Webkit. For example, KHTML (in KDE 4) implements portions of the definition of the CSS3 standard, which will need to be adopted into Webkit and so forth. But the big deal is that the coders that invented the underlying layers that power Konqueror, some Nokia browsers, Abrowse, Safari, Adobe’s Air, and now Epiphany and a few other projects that are in the works, are now back in the fold. Additionally, Trolltech has announced that they are including Webkit in their upcoming Qt 4.4 release which means that a major, cross-platform toolkit now permits anyone to use the Webkit rendering engine where ever they need to render some HTML.
In open source terms, this may be as big of a deal as the gcc and egcs merger of yonder days. KHTML and Webkit are definitely coming of age. The KDE developers, responsible for the original creation of KHTML, are dedicated to seeing this unforking happen and are taking a leading role in that effort.
The uptake of WebKit has been fairly significant. The integration into QT will only serve to accelerate its adoption. It should be interesting to see how KDE deals with the component being outside their direct control, as WebKit is an Apple project (although obviously a fully Open Source one). It looks like some of the KHTML devs will be moving to become WebKit devs, which is great.