Frédéric Wang Subscribe   About   Mathematics   Computer Science   Miscellaneous   Archive

Review of my year 2019 at Igalia

Co-owner and mentorship

In 2016, I was among the new software engineers who joined Igalia. Three years later I applied to become co-owner of the company and the legal paperwork was completed in April. As my colleague Andy explained on his blog, this does not change a lot of things in practice because most of the decisions are taken within the assembly. However, I’m still very happy and proud of having achieved this step 😄

One of my new duty has been to be the “mentor” of Miyoung Shin since February and to help with her integration at Igalia. Shin has been instrumental in Igalia’s project to improve Chromium’s Code Health with an impressive number of ~500 commits. You can watch the video of her BlinkOn lightning talk on YouTube. In addition to her excellent technical contribution she has also invested her energy in company’s life, helping with the organization of social activities during our summits, something which has really been appreciated by her colleagues. I’m really glad that she has recently entered the assembly and will be able to take a more active role in the company’s decisions!

Julie and Shin at BlinkOn11
Julie (left) and Shin (right) at BlinkOn 11.

Working with new colleagues

Igalia also hired Cathie Chen last December and I’ve gotten the chance to work with her as part of our Web Platform collaboration with AMP. Cathie has been very productive and we have been able to push forward several features, mostly related to scrolling. Additionally, she implemented ResizeObserver in WebKit, which is a quite exciting new feature for web developers!

Cathie Chen signing 溜溜溜
Cathie executing traditional Chinese sign language.

The other project I’ve been contributed to this year is MathML. We are introducing new math and font concepts into Chromium’s new layout engine, so the project is both technically challenging and fascinating. For this project, I was able to rely on Rob’s excellent development skills to complete this year’s implementation roadmap on our Chromium branch and start upstreaming patches.

In addition, a lot of extra non-implementation effort has been done which led to consensus between browser implementers, MathML enthusiasts and other web developer groups. Brian Kardell became a developer advocate for Igalia in March and has been very helpful talking to different people, explaining our project and introducing ideas from the Extensible Web, HTML or CSS Communities. I strongly recommend his recent Igalia chat and lightning talk for a good explanation of what we have been doing this year.

Photo of Brian
Brian presenting his lightning talk at BlinkOn11.

Conferences

These are the developer conferences I attended this year and gave talks about our MathML project:

Me at BlinkOn 11
Me, giving my BlinkOn 11 talk on "MathML Core".

As usual it was nice to meet the web platform and chromium communities during these events and to hear about the great projects happening. I’m also super excited that the assembly decided to try something new for my favorite event. Indeed, next year we will organize the Web Engines Hackfest in May to avoid conflicts with other browser events but more importantly, we will move to a bigger venue so that we can welcome more people. I’m really looking forward to seeing how things go!

Paris - A Coruña by train

Environmental protection is an important topic discussed in our cooperative. This year, I’ve tried to reduce my carbon footprint when traveling to Igalia’s headquarters by using train instead of plane. Obviously the latter is faster but the former is much more confortable and has less security constraints. It is possible to use high-speed train from Paris to Barcelona and then a Trenhotel to avoid a hotel night. For a quantitative comparison, let’s consider this table, based on my personal travel experience:

Traject Transport Duration Price CO2/passenger
Paris - Barcelona TGV ~6h30 60-90€ 6kg
Barcelona - A Coruña Trenhotel ~15h 40-60€ Unspecified
Paris - A Coruña
(via Madrid)
Iberia 4h30-5h 100-150€ 192kg

The price depends on how early the tickets are booked but it is more or less the same for train and plane. Renfe does not seem to indicate estimated CO2 emission and trains to Galicia are probably not the most eco-friendly. However, using this online estimator, the 1200 kilometers between Barcelona and A Coruña would emit 50kg by national train. This would mean a reduction of 71% in the emission of CO2, which is quite significant. Hopefully things will get better when one day AVE is available between Madrid and A Coruña… 😉

MIsSIvE

Carte Postale Musicale

En avril dernier, alors que j’étais en déplacement au Canada pour BlinkOn 10, j’ai posté la carte postale musicale suivante:

Partition

Décryptage

Avant de décrypter cette petite valse en ré mineur, notons que le titre “MIsSIvE” (avec des nom de notes en lettres majuscules) donne un premier indice…

Commençons par analyser le morceau d’un point de vue harmonique. La première mesure possède un ré à la basse et contient les notes ré, la ; la, mi, fa do ; la, do, ré, mi soit un accord de ré mineur neuvième ré-fa-la-mi-do. En procédant de même pour les autres mesures, on obtient la grille d’accords suivante:

  |       Dm9          |       A7      |
  | C7/B♭ | Edim/G | Em7(♭5) | A7 | Dm |
  |   C/E    |  Dm7  |     A7     | Dm |

Quant à la mélodie elle s’écrit comme suit:

  | la do mi                       | mi mi                      |
  | si mi | sol fa sol mi | la si ré sol mi | sol ré | la mi ré |
  | mi    | do la ré ré mi | mi sol do# mi       | fa ré        |

En conservant uniquement les notes fondamentales des accords, en les mélangeant avec celles de la mélodie, en retirant les altérations et en choissant astucieusement le nom des notes (selon le système français ou anglo-saxon), on peut écrire le petit mot accompagnant la carte postale:

  a-do-RÉ-e A-mi-e,
  si C-e sol-f-È-g-e a-b-ré-g-É é-g-A-re, a-D-mi-re
  C-e c-a-D-re d-e g-LA-c-e ! f-RE-d

Autrement dit: "Adorée amie, si ce solfège abrégé égare, admire ce cadre de glace ! Fred"

Review of Igalia's Web Platform activities (H2 2018)

This blog post reviews Igalia’s activity around the Web Platform, focusing on the second semester of 2018.

Projects

MathML

During 2018 we have continued discussions to implement MathML in Chromium with Google and people interested in math layout. The project was finally launched early this year and we have encouraging progress. Stay tuned for more details!

Javascript

As mentioned in the previous report, Igalia has proposed and developed the specification for BigInt, enabling math on arbitrary-sized integers in JavaScript. We’ve continued to land patches for BigInt support in SpiderMonkey and JSC. For the latter, you can watch this video demonstrating the current support. Currently, these two support are under a preference flag but we hope to make it enable by default after we are done polishing the implementations. We also added support for BigInt to several Node.js APIs (e.g. fs.Stat or process.hrtime.bigint).

Regarding “object-oriented” features, we submitted patches private and public instance fields support to JSC and they are pending review. At the same time, we are working on private methods for V8

We contributed other nice features to V8 such as a spec change for template strings and iterator protocol, support for Object.fromEntries, Symbol.prototype.description, miscellaneous optimizations.

At TC39, we maintained or developed many proposals (BigInt, class fields, private methods, decorators, …) and led the ECMAScript Internationalization effort. Additionally, at the WebAssembly Working Group we edited the WebAssembly JS and Web API and early version of WebAssembly/ES Module integration specifications.

Last but not least, we contributed various conformance tests to test262 and Web Platform Tests to ensure interoperability between the various features mentioned above (BigInt, Class fields, Private methods…). In Node.js, we worked on the new Web Platform Tests driver with update automation and continued porting and fixing more Web Platform Tests in Node.js core.

We also worked on the new Web Platform Tests driver with update automation, and continued porting and fixing more Web Platform Tests in Node.js core. Outside of core, we implemented the initial JavaScript API for llnode, a Node.js/V8 plugin for the LLDB debugger.

Accessibility

Igalia has continued its involvement at the W3C. We have achieved the following:

We are also collaborating with Google to implement ATK support in Chromium. This work will make it possible for users of the Orca screen reader to use Chrome/Chromium as their browser. During H2 we began implementing the foundational accessibility support. During H1 2019 we will continue this work. It is our hope that sufficient progress will be made during H2 2019 for users to begin using Chrome with Orca.

Web Platform Predictability

On Web Platform Predictability, we’ve continued our collaboration with AMP to do bug fixes and implement new features in WebKit. You can read a review of the work done in 2018 on the AMP blog post.

We have worked on a lot of interoperability issues related to editing and selection thanks to financial support from Bloomberg. For example when deleting the last cell of a table some browsers keep an empty table while others delete the whole table. The latter can be problematic, for example if users press backspace continuously to delete a long line, they can accidentally end up deleting the whole table. This was fixed in Chromium and WebKit.

Another issue is that style is lost when transforming some text into list items. When running execCommand() with insertOrderedList/insertUnorderedList on some styled paragraph, the new list item loses the original text’s style. This behavior is not interoperable and we have proposed a fix so that Firefox, Edge, Safari and Chrome behave the same for this operation. We landed a patch for Chromium. After discussion with Apple, it was decided not to implement this change in Safari as it would break some iOS rich text editor apps, mismatching the required platform behavior.

We have also been working on CSS Grid interoperability. We imported Web Platform Tests into WebKit (cf bugs 191515 and 191369 and at the same time completing the missing features and bug fixes so that browsers using WebKit are interoperable, passing 100% of the Grid test suite. For details, see 191358, 189582, 189698, 191881, 191938, 170175, 191473 and 191963. Last but not least, we are exporting more than 100 internal browser tests to the Web Platform test suite.

CSS

Bloomberg is supporting our work to develop new CSS features. One of the new exciting features we’ve been working on is CSS Containment. The goal is to improve the rendering performance of web pages by isolating a subtree from the rest of the document. You can read details on Manuel Rego’s blog post.

Regarding CSS Grid Layout we’ve continued our maintenance duties, bug triage of the Chromium and WebKit bug trackers, and fixed the most severe bugs. One change with impact on end users was related to how percentages row tracks and gaps work in grid containers with indefinite size, the last spec resolution was implemented in both Chromium and WebKit. We are finishing the level 1 of the specification with some missing/incomplete features. First we’ve been working on the new Baseline Alignment algorithm (cf. CSS WG issues 1039, 1365 and 1409). We fixed related issues in Chromium and WebKit. Similarly, we’ve worked on Content Alignment logic (see CSS WG issue 2557) and resolved a bug in Chromium. The new algorithm for baseline alignment caused an important performance regression for certain resizing use cases so we’ve fixed them with some performance optimization and that landed in Chromium.

We have also worked on various topics related to CSS Text 3. We’ve fixed several bugs to increase the pass rate for the Web Platform test suite in Chromium such as bugs 854624, 900727 and 768363. We are also working on a new CSS value ‘break-spaces’ for the ‘white-space’ property. For details, see the CSS WG discussions: issue 2465 and pull request. We implemented this new property in Chromium under a CSSText3BreakSpaces flag. Additionally, we are currently porting this implementation to Chromium’s new layout engine ‘LayoutNG’. We have plans to implement this feature in WebKit during the second semester.

Multimedia

  • WebRTC: The libwebrtc branch is now upstreamed in WebKit and has been tested with popular servers.
  • Media Source Extensions: WebM MSE support is upstreamed in WebKit.
  • We implemented basic support for <video> and <audio> elements in Servo.

Other activities

Web Engines Hackfest 2018

Last October, we organized the Web Engines Hackfest at our A Coruña office. It was a great event with about 70 attendees from all the web engines, thank you to all the participants! As usual, you can find more information on the event wiki including link to slides and videos of speakers.

TPAC 2018

Again in October, but this time in Lyon (France), 12 people from Igalia attended TPAC and participated in several discussions on the different meetings. Igalia had a booth there showcasing several demos of our last developments running on top of WPE (a WebKit port for embedded devices). Last, Manuel Rego gave a talk on the W3C Developers Meetup about how to contribute to CSS.

This.Javascript: State of Browsers

In December, we also participated with other browser developers to the online This.Javascript: State of Browsers event organized by ThisDot. We talked more specifically about the current work in WebKit.

New Igalians

We are excited to announce that new Igalians are joining us to continue our Web platform effort:

  • Cathie Chen, a Chinese engineer with about 10 years of experience working on browsers. Among other contributions to Chromium, she worked on the new LayoutNG code and added support for list markers.

  • Caio Lima a Brazilian developer who recently graduated from the Federal University of Bahia. He participated to our coding experience program and notably worked on BigInt support in JSC.

  • Oriol Brufau a recent graduate in math from Barcelona who is also involved in the CSSWG and the development of various browser engines. He participated to our coding experience program and implemented the CSS Logical Properties and Values in WebKit and Chromium.

Coding Experience Programs

Last fall, Sven Sauleau joined our coding experience program and started to work on various BigInt/WebAssembly improvements in V8.

Conclusion

We are thrilled with the web platform achievements we made last semester and we look forward to more work on the web platform in 2019!

Review of Igalia's Web Platform activities (H1 2018)

This is the semiyearly report to let people know a bit more about Igalia’s activities around the Web Platform, focusing on the activity of the first semester of year 2018.

Projects

Javascript

Igalia has proposed and developed the specification for BigInt, enabling math on arbitrary-sized integers in JavaScript. Igalia has been developing implementations in SpiderMonkey and JSC, where core patches have landed. Chrome and Node.js shipped implementations of BigInt, and the proposal is at Stage 3 in TC39.

Igalia is also continuing to develop several features for JavaScript classes, including class fields. We developed a prototype implementation of class fields in JSC. We have maintained Stage 3 in TC39 for our specification of class features, including static variants.

We also participated to WebAssembly (now at First Public Working Draft) and internationalization features for new features such as Intl.RelativeTimeFormat (currently at Stage 3).

Finally, we have written more tests for JS language features, performed maintenance and optimization and participated to other spec discussions at TC39. Among performance optimizations, we have contributed a significant optimization to Promise performance to V8.

Accessibility

Igalia has continued the standardization effort at the W3C. We are pleased to announce that the following milestones have been reached:

A new charter for the ARIA WG as well as drafts for ARIA 1.2 and Core Accessibility API Mappings 1.2 are in preparation and are expected to be published this summer.

On the development side, we implemented new ARIA features and fixed several bugs in WebKit and Gecko. We have refined platform-specific tools that are needed to automate accessibility Web Platform Tests (examine the accessibility tree, obtain information about accessible objects, listen for accessibility events, etc) and hope we will be able to integrate them in Web Platform Tests. Finally we continued maintenance of the Orca screen reader, in particular fixing some accessibility-event-flood issues in Caja and Nautilus that had significant impact on Orca users.

Web Platform Predictability

Thanks to support from Bloomberg, we were able to improve interoperability for various Editing/Selection use cases. For example when using backspace to delete text content just after a table (W3C issue) or deleting a list item inside a content cell.

We were also pleased to continue our collaboration with the AMP project. They provide us a list of bugs and enhancement requests (mostly for the WebKit iOS port) with concrete use cases and repro cases. We check the status and plans in WebKit, do debugging/analysis and of course actually submit patches to address the issues. That’s not always easy (e.g. when it is touching proprietary code or requires to find some specific reviewers) but at least we make discussions move forward. The topics are very diverse, it can be about MessageChannel API, CSSOM View, CSS transitions, CSS animations, iOS frame scrolling custom elements or navigating special links and many others.

In general, our projects are always a good opportunity to write new Web Platform Tests import them in WebKit/Chromium/Mozilla or improve the testing infrastructure. We have been able to work on tests for several specifications we work on.

CSS

Thanks to support from Bloomberg we’ve been pursuing our activities around CSS:

We also got more involved in the CSS Working Group, in particular participating to the face-to-face meeting in Berlin and will attend TPAC’s meeting in October.

WebKit

We have also continued improving the web platform implementation of some Linux ports of WebKit (namely GTK and WPE). A lot of this work was possible thanks to the financial support of Metrological.

Other activities

Preparation of Web Engines Hackfest 2018

Igalia has been organizing and hosting the Web Engines Hackfest since 2009, a three days event where Web Platform developers can meet, discuss and work together. We are still working on the list of invited, sponsors and talks but you can already save the date: It will happen from 1st to 3rd of October in A Coruña!

New Igalians

This semester, new developers have joined Igalia to pursue the Web platform effort:

  • Rob Buis, a Dutch developer currently living in Germany. He is a well-known member of the Chromium community and is currently helping on the web platform implementation in WebKit.

  • Qiuyi Zhang (Joyee), based in China is a prominent member of the Node.js community who is now also assisting our compilers team on V8 developments.

  • Dominik Infuer, an Austrian specialist in compilers and programming language implementation who is currently helping on our JSC effort.

Coding Experience Programs

Two students have started a coding experience program some weeks ago:

  • Oriol Brufau, a recent graduate in math from Spain who has been an active collaborator of the CSS Working Group and a contributor to the Mozilla project. He is working on the CSS Logical Properties and Values specification, implementing it in Chromium implementation.

  • Darshan Kadu, a computer science student from India, who contributed to GIMP and Blender. He is working on Web Platform Tests with focus on WebKit’s infrastructure and the GTK & WPE ports in particular.

Additionally, Caio Lima is continuing his coding experience in Igalia and is among other things working on implementing BigInt in JSC.

Conclusion

Thank you for reading this blog post and we look forward to more work on the web platform this semester!

BlinkOn 9: Working on the Web Platform from a cooperative

Last week, I attended BlinkOn 9. I was very happy to spend some time with my colleagues working on Chromium, including a new developer who will join my team next week (to be announced soon!).

This edition had the usual format with presentations, brainstorming, lightning talks and informal chats with Chromium developers. I attended several interesting presentations on web platform standardization, implementation and testing. It was also great to talk to Googlers in order to coordinate on some of Igalia’s projects such as the collaboration with AMP or MathML in Chromium.

In the previous edition, I realized that one can propose non-technical talks (e.g. the one about inclusion and diversity) and some people seemed curious about Igalia. Hence I proposed a presentation “Working on the Web Platform from a Cooperative” that gives:

  • An introduction to Igalia and its activities.
  • A description of our non-hierarchical model and benefits it brings.
  • An overview of Igalia’s contribution to the Web Platform.

Presenting my talk in West Sycamore

From the feedback I got, people appreciated the presentation and liked to get more insight on Igalia. Unfortunately, I was not able to record the talk due to technical issues. Of course, thirty minutes is a bit short to develop all the ideas and reply properly to all the questions. But for those who are interested here are more pointers:

  • About “equal salary” VS “cost of living”, you might want to read Andy Wingo’s blog posts “time for money” and “a simple (local) solution to the pay gap”. Several years ago, Robert O’Callahan had already wondered whether it really made sense to take into account the cost of living to determine salaries. Personally, I believe that as long as our “target salary” is high enough for all places where we work, we don’t really need to worry about this issue and can instead spend time focusing on more interesting agreements to keep making Igalia a great working place.

  • About dependency on the customers, see the last paragraph of “work groups” in Andy’s blog post “but that would be anarchy!” especially treating customers as partners. As I said during the talk, as long as we have enough customers we have some freedom to accept contracts that are more interesting for our strategy and aligned with our values or negociate improvements to existing contracts ; without worrying about unstability and uncertainty.

  • About the meaning of “Igalia”, the simple answer is “it does not mean anything”. If you join Igalia and get the opportunity to learn about the company history, there is a more complete answer about how the name was found…

  • Regarding founders of Igalia in 2001: Dape (who attended BlinkOn), Alex, Juanjo, Xavi, Berto and Chema are indeed still working at Igalia and in general, very few people have left Igalia since its creation.

Finally we had two related tricky questions from Google employees:

  • How do you sync with the browser vendors’ own agenda?

  • What can Google (or any other browser vendor) could do to facilitate involvements of third-party contributors?

One could enumerate different situations but unfortunately there is not a generic answer. In some cases collaboration worked very well and was quite successful. In other cases, things were more complicated and we had to “fight” to convince browser vendors to keep some existing code or accept new features.

Communication is very important. We try to sync with browser vendors using video conferencing or by attending conferences, but some companies/teams are more or less inclined to reveal information (especially when strategic products are involved). In general, I have the impression that the more the teams work close to the Web Platform, the more they are used to the democratic and open-source culture and welcome third-party contributions.

Although the ideal is to work upstream, we have recently been developing skills to manage separate forks and rebase them regularly against the main branch. This is a good option to find a balance between the request of the customer to implement features and the need of the browser vendors to focus on their own tasks. Chromium for Wayland is a good example of that approach.

Hence probably one way to help third-party contributors is to improve communication. We had some issues with developers not even willing to talk to us or not taking time to review or comment on our patches/CLs. If browser vendors could indicate that they don’t like an approach as soon as possible or that they won’t accept patches until some refactoring is complete, that would help us a lot to discuss with clients, properly schedule our tasks and consider the option of an experimental branch.

Another way to help third-party contributors would be to advertize more that such contributions are actually possible. Indeed, many people think that “everything is implemented by browser vendors” which can make difficult to find clients for web platform development. When companies rant about Google not implementing feature X, fixing bug Y or participating to standard Z, instead of ignoring them or denying the importance of the request, it would probably be more constructive to mention that they can actually pay consulting companies to do that job. As I indicated in the talk, we recently had such successful collaborations with Bloomberg, Metrological or AMP and we would be happy to find more!

There are probably more to reply to these questions, but that’s my quick thought on the matter for now. I’ll try discussing with my colleagues and see if we have more ideas to share.