This is news that makes me very, very happy. Stephan “stippi” Assmus has written a lengthy blog post detailing the progress made on Haiku’s WebKit port, and they’re quite far along. Thanks to the help of several community members, the test browser, enticingly named (euh…) HaikuLauncher, is already relatively stable, supports tabbed browsing, and a whole lot more.
In the blog post, Stippi details just how he came to work on the WebKit port, and effort which has been under way for a while now. The progress he has been able to make, with the help of several other developers, is quite tremendous, and while I could try to summarise what it took to get there, it’s better just to read the whole thing yourself.
So, where does all this leave Haiku’s WebKit port?
“So far I think my choice to invest into WebKit was a good one,” Stippi summarises, “It’s possible to make a very native feeling browser, although some compromises have to be made. While WebCore is essentially single threaded, at least the native drawing happens in one app_server thread per page. And this will of course improve over time, as WebCore itself will make more use of threading. In terms of feeling native, I believe HaikuLauncher has left the Firefox port far behind. It even renders faster in many situations, sometimes drastically faster.”
HaikuLauncher supports tabbed browsing, has a separate download window, and can render complex pages like Google Maps, GMail, and so on. Early reports from Haiku users (taken from the comments’ section) indicate that it launches fast, too. This is
BeOS Haiku after all.