Archive for April 3, 2013

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Cargo Cult Platform

Pierre Lebeaupin:

What bothers me today is the realization Apple might have handled the opening of the iPhone platform like a cargo cult […] By which I mean that Apple decided they needed to open the iPhone as a development platform, but I wonder to which extent they then did so by giving it the trappings of a platform more than the reality of a platform.

The Patent Protection Racket

Joel Spolsky:

Civilized people don’t pay up. They band together, and fight, and eliminate the problem. The EFF is launching a major initiative to reform the patent system. At Stack Exchange, we’re trying to help with Ask Patents, which will hopefully block a few bad patents before they get issued.

Julie Samuels:

Lodsys is back at it, and this time, again, it’s doing more than merely threatening. It’s actually filing lawsuits. These lawsuits against app developers are just part of a dangerous recent trend of patent trolls going after end-users. For example, a shadowy collection of shell companies has been blanketing the nation with letters demanding that companies pay them $1000 per employee for the privilege of using standard office technology like scanners and email. And another patent troll is targeting the podcasting community.


Adam Barth:

However, Chromium uses a different multi-process architecture than other WebKit-based browsers, and supporting multiple architectures over the years has led to increasing complexity for both the WebKit and Chromium projects. This has slowed down the collective pace of innovation - so today, we are introducing Blink, a new open source rendering engine based on WebKit.

Peter Bright:

By forking WebCore to create Blink, Google claims that all WebKit users will be able to innovate more quickly. Google can remove infrastructure that exists only to support WebKit2’s features, with the company claiming that in one fell swoop it can discard 7,000 files and 4.5 million of lines of code that exist only to support WebKit2’s architecture. In turn, this removes the ongoing cost of supporting this infrastructure.

Conversely, the WebKit project no longer needs to worry about making changes that might break WebCore for the way Chrome uses it.

Alex Russell:

Why couldn’t those cycle-time-improving changes happen inside WebKit? After all, much work has happened in the past 4 years (often by Googlers) to improve the directness of WebKit work: EWS bots, better code review flow, improved scripts and tools for managing checkins, the commit queue itself. The results have been impressive and have enabled huge growth and adoption by porters. WebKit now supports multiple multi-process architecture designs, something like a half-dozen network stack plug-ins, and similar diversity at every point where the engine calls back to outside systems for low-level implementation (GPU, network, storage, databases, fonts…you name it). The community is now committed to enabling porters, and due to WebKit’s low-ish level of abstraction each new port raises the tax paid by every other port.

The Chromium FAQ:

We want to do for networking, rendering and layout what V8 did for JavaScript. Remember JS engines before V8? We want the same sort of healthy innovation that benefits all users of the web, on all browsers.


We’ve seen how the proliferation of vendor prefixes have caused pain for developers and we don’t want to exacerbate this. As of today, Chrome is adopting a policy on vendor prefixes, one that is similar to Mozilla’s recently announced policy.

Update (2013-04-04): Maciej Stachowiak (via Daniel Jalkut):

Before we wrote a single line of what would become WebKit2 we directly asked Google folks if they would be willing to contribute their multiprocess support back to WebKit, so that we could build on it. They said no.

At that point, our choices were to do a hostile fork of Chromium into the WebKit tree, write our own process model, or live with being single-process forever.


Brendan Eich (via John Gruber):

Servo is an attempt to rebuild the Web browser from the ground up on modern hardware, rethinking old assumptions along the way. This means addressing the causes of security vulnerabilities while designing a platform that can fully utilize the performance of tomorrow’s massively parallel hardware to enable new and richer experiences on the Web. To those ends, Servo is written in Rust, a new, safe systems language developed by Mozilla along with a growing community of enthusiasts.

Apple DOS

Daniel Terdiman (via John Gruber):

On April 10, 1978, the contract was signed. For $13,000 -- $5,200 up front, and $7,800 on delivery, and no additional royalties -- Shepardson Microsystems would build Apple’s first DOS -- and hand it over just 35 days later. […] For its money, Apple would get a file manager, an interface for integer BASIC and Applesoft BASIC, and utilities that would allow disk backup, disk recovery, and file copying.

Wikipedia has more information.

Google Alerts

Rebecca Grant (via Brent Simmons):

People on online forums, publications, and blogs say their Google Alerts have dwindled to the point of uselessness. Trade publication The Financial Brand reported that its Google Alerts have slowed to a “trickle,” with the volume decreasing by at least 80% and dropping from 20-35 emails per day with 4-12 results down to 4-8 emails per day with 1-3 results each. Furthermore, “the results are crummier than ever.”

I’ve noticed this as well.