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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.

Manco II

L’année dernière, j’ai composé la chanson suivante pour l’anniversaire de Rolando. Je la publie ci-dessous sous la license CC BY 4.0. Les paroles de Rêve avec moi donnait une vision onirique du Pérou en reprenant les clichés occidentaux. Manco II donne une vision plus sombre en décrivant l’histoire de la colonisation du pays. Les livres que j’ai utilisé comme référence sont ceux de Hiram Bingham (La fabuleuse découverte de la cité perdue des incas) et de William H. Prescott (History of the Conquest of Peru).

L’histoire est racontée du point de vue de Manco Capac II. Ce processus narratif permet d’éviter le manichéisme: Manco critique la colonisation espagnole (duperie, violence, évangélisation, illégitimité et cupidité des conquistadors) en utilisant lui même un ton belliqueux et autoritaire (l’empire Inca était lui même une dictature monarchique et religieuse qui a colonisé d’autres peuples d’amérique du sud).

Contexte historique

A leur arrivée dans l’empire Inca, les espagnols réussirent à capturer l’empereur Inca Atawallpa malgré leur petit nombre, en utilisant l’avantage technologiques (notamment chevaux et armes à feu) et leur fourberie (ils tendirent un piège à Atawallpa). Plus tard, ils mirent en place un gouvernement fantoche en couronnant son demi-frère Manco II. Ce dernier finira par organiser une révolte et faillit même reconquérir la capitale de l’empire Inca. Réfugié à Willkapampa, il continua la guérilla contre les espagnols jusqu’à la fin de sa vie.

Paroles

(Premier couplet)
Quand ces monstres d'airain
Débarquèrent dans l'empire
Colère de feu au poing
Soif cupide de vampire
Par de spécieux discours
Mon demi-frère dupèrent
Balayant toute sa cour
D'une tempête mortifère

(Refrain)
À Vilcabamba
Je cultive mon fiel
Déchu, je me bats
Pour que sous ce ciel
Trône tel un colosse
L'Inca Manco II!
À Vilcabamba
Mon armée se terre
Fin prête au combat
Pour que sur mes terres
Règne tel un colosse
L'Inca Manco II!

(Second couplet)
Feignant l'roi ingénu
Servile et silencieux
Dans l'ombre j'ai entret'nu
L'armée d'indiens factieux
Qui d'Ollantaytambo
Se prépare au combat
Pilleurs d'or votre tombeau
Sera Urubamba!

(Refrain)

Musique

Partition

Review of Igalia's Web Platform activities (H2 2017)

Last september, I published a first blog post to let people know a bit more about Igalia’s activities around the Web platform, with a plan to repeat such a review each semester. The present blog post focuses on the activity of the second semester of 2017.

Accessibility

As part of Igalia’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, we continue our effort to standardize and implement accessibility technologies. More specifically, Igalian Joanmarie Diggs continues to serve as chair of the W3C’s ARIA working group and as an editor of Accessible Rich Internet Applications (WAI-ARIA) 1.1, Core Accessibility API Mappings 1.1, Digital Publishing WAI-ARIA Module 1.0, Digital Publishing Accessibility API Mappings 1.0 all of which became W3C Recommandations in December! Work on versions 1.2 of ARIA and the Core AAM will begin in January. Stay tuned for the First Public Working Drafts.

We also contributed patches to fix several issues in the ARIA implementations of WebKit and Gecko and implemented support for the new DPub ARIA roles. We expect to continue this collaboration with Apple and Mozilla next year as well as to resume more active maintenance of Orca, the screen reader used to access graphical desktop environments in GNU/Linux.

Last but not least, progress continues on switching to Web Platform Tests for ARIA and “Accessibility API Mappings” tests. This task is challenging because, unlike other aspects of the Web Platform, testing accessibility mappings cannot be done by solely examining what is rendered by the user agent. Instead, an additional tool, an “Accessible Technology Test Adapter” (ATTA) must be also be run. ATTAs work in a similar fashion to assistive technologies such as screen readers, using the implemented platform accessibility API to query information about elements and reporting what it obtains back to WPT which in turn determines if a test passed or failed. As a result, the tests are currently officially manual while the platform ATTAs continue to be developed and refined. We hope to make sufficient progress during 2018 that ATTA integration into WPT can begin.

CSS

This semester, we were glad to receive Bloomberg’s support again to pursue our activities around CSS. After a long commitment to CSS and a lot of feedback to Editors, several of our members finally joined the Working Group! Incidentally and as mentioned in a previous blog post, during the CSS Working Group face-to-face meeting in Paris we got the opportunity to answer Microsoft’s questions regarding The Story of CSS Grid, from Its Creators (see also the video). You might want to take a look at our own videos for CSS Grid Layout, regarding alignment and placement and easy design.

On the development side, we maintained and fixed bugs in Grid Layout implementation for Blink and WebKit. We also implemented alignment of positioned items in Blink and WebKit. We have several improvements and bug fixes for editing/selection from Bloomberg’s downstream branch that we’ve already upstreamed or plan to upstream. Finally, it’s worth mentioning that the work done on display: contents by our former coding experience student Emilio Cobos was taken over and completed by antiik (for WebKit) and rune (for Blink) and is now enabled by default! We plan to pursue these developments next year and have various ideas. One of them is improving the way grids are stored in memory to allow huge grids (e.g. spreadsheet).

Web Platform Predictability

One of the area where we would like to increase our activity is Web Platform Predictability. This is obviously essential for our users but is also instrumental for a company like Igalia making developments on all the open source Javascript and Web engines, to ensure that our work is implemented consistently across all platforms. This semester, we were able to put more effort on this thanks to financial support from Bloomberg and Google AMP.

We have implemented more frame sandboxing attributes WebKit to improve user safety and make control of sandboxed documents more flexible. We improved the sandboxed navigation browser context flag and implemented the new allow-popup-to-escape-sandbox, allow-top-navigation-without-user-activation, and allow-modals values for the sandbox attribute.

Currently, HTML frame scrolling is not implemented in WebKit/iOS. As a consequence, one has to use the non-standard -webkit-overflow-scrolling: touch property on overflow nodes to emulate scrollable elements. In parallel to the progresses toward using more standard HTML frame scrolling we have also worked on annoying issues related to overflow nodes, including flickering/jittering of “position: fixed” nodes or broken Find UI or a regression causing content to disappear.

Another important task as part of our CSS effort was to address compatibility issues between the different browsers. For example we fixed editing bugs related to HTML List items: WebKit’s Bug 174593/Chromium’s Issue 744936 and WebKit’s Bug 173148/Chromium’s Issue 731621. Inconsistencies in web engines regarding selection with floats have also been detected and we submitted the first patches for WebKit and Blink. Finally, we are currently improving line-breaking behavior in Blink and WebKit, which implies the implementation of new CSS values and properties defined in the last draft of the CSS Text 3 specification.

We expect to continue this effort on Web Platform Predictability next year and we are discussing more ideas e.g. WebPackage or flexbox compatibility issues. For sure, Web Platform Tests are an important aspect to ensure cross-platform inter-operability and we would like to help improving synchronization with the conformance tests of browser repositories. This includes the accessibility tests mentioned above.

MathML

Last November, we launched a fundraising Campaign to implement MathML in Chromium and presented it during Frankfurt Book Fair and TPAC. We have gotten very positive feedback so far with encouragement from people excited about this project. We strongly believe the native MathML implementation in the browsers will bring about a huge impact to STEM education across the globe and all the incumbent industries will benefit from the technology. As pointed out by Rick Byers, the web platform is a commons and we believe that a more collective commitment and contribution are essential for making this world a better place!

While waiting for progress on Chromium’s side, we have provided minimal maintenance for MathML in WebKit:

  • We fixed all the debug ASSERTs reported on Bugzilla.
  • We did follow-up code clean up and refactoring.
  • We imported Web Platform tests in WebKit.
  • We performed review of MathML patches.

Regarding the last point, we would like to thank Minsheng Liu, a new volunteer who has started to contribute patches to WebKit to fix issues with MathML operators. He is willing to continue to work on MathML development in 2018 as well so stay tuned for more improvements!

Javascript

During the second semester of 2017, we worked on the design, standardization and implementation of several JavaScript features thanks to sponsorship from Bloomberg and Mozilla.

One of the new features we focused on recently is BigInt. We are working on an implementation of BigInt in SpiderMonkey, which is currently feature-complete but requires more optimization and cleanup. We wrote corresponding test262 conformance tests, which are mostly complete and upstreamed. Next semester, we intend to finish that work while our coding experience student Caio Lima continues work on a BigInt implementation on JSC, which has already started to land. Google also decided to implement that feature in V8 based on the specification we wrote. The BigInt specification that we wrote reached Stage 3 of TC39 standardization. We plan to keep working on these two BigInt implementations, making specification tweaks as needed, with an aim towards reaching Stage 4 at TC39 for the BigInt proposal in 2018.

Igalia is also proposing class fields and private methods for JavaScript. Similarly to BigInt, we were able to move them to Stage 3 and we are working to move them to stage 4. Our plan is to write test262 tests for private methods and work on an implementation in a JavaScript engine early next year.

Igalia implemented and shipped async iterators and generators in Chrome 63, providing a convenient syntax for exposing and using asynchronous data streams, e.g., HTML streams. Additionally, we shipped a major performance optimization for Promises and async functions in V8.

We implemented and shipped two internationalization features in Chrome, Intl.PluralRules and Intl.NumberFormat.prototype.formatToParts. To push the specifications of internationalization features forwards, we have been editing various other internationalization-related specifications such as Intl.RelativeTimeFormat, Intl.Locale and Intl.ListFormat; we also convened and led the first of what will be a monthly meeting of internationalization experts to propose and refine further API details.

Finally, Igalia has also been formalizing WebAssembly’s JavaScript API specification, which reached the W3C first public working draft stage, and plans to go on to improve testing of that specification as the next step once further editorial issues are fixed.

Miscellaneous

Thanks to sponsorship from Mozilla we have continued our involvement in the Quantum Render project with the goal of using Servo’s WebRender in Firefox.

Support from Metrological has also given us the opportunity to implement more web standards from some Linux ports of WebKit (GTK and WPE, including:

  • WebRTC
  • WebM
  • WebVR
  • Web Crypto
  • Web Driver
  • WebP animations support
  • HTML interactive form validation
  • MSE

Conclusion

Thanks for reading and we look forward to more work on the web platform in 2018. Onwards and upwards!

Recent Browser Events

TL;DR

At Igalia, we attend many browser events. This is a quick summary of some recents conferences I participated to… or that gave me the opportunity to meet Igalians in Paris 😉.

Week 31: Paris - CSS WG F2F - W3C

My teammate Sergio attended the CSS WG F2F meeting as an observer. On Tuesday morning, I also made an appearance (but it was so brief that ceux que j’ai rencontrés ne m’ont peut-être pas vu). Together with other browser vendors and WG members, Sergio gave an interview regarding the successful story of CSS Grid Layout. By the way, given our implementation work in WebKit and Blink, Igalia finally decided to join the CSS Working Group 😊. Of course, during that week I had dinner with Sergio and it was nice to chat with my colleague in a French restaurant of Montmartre.

Week 38: Tokyo - BlinkOn 8 - Google

Jacobo, Gyuyoung and I attended BlinkOn 8. I had nice discussions and listened to interesting talks about a wide range of topics (Layout NG, Accessibility, CSS, Fonts, Web Predictability & Standards, etc). It was a pleasure to finally meet in persons some developers I had been in touch with during my projects on Ozone/Wayland and WebKit/iOS. For the lightning talks, we presented our activities on embedded linux platforms and the Web Platform. Incidentally, it was great to see Igalia’s work mentioned during the Next Generation Rendering Engine session. Obviously, I had the opportunity to visit places and taste Japanese food in Asakusa, Ueno and Roppongi 😋.

Week 40: A Coruña - Web Engines Hackfest - Igalia

I attended one of my favorite events, that gathers the whole browser community during three days for technical presentations, breakout sessions, hacking and galician food. This year, we had many sponsors and attendees. It is good to see that the event is becoming more and more popular! It was long overdue, but I was finally able to make Brotli and WOFF2 installable as system libraries on Linux and usable by WebKitGTK+ 😊. I opened similar bugs in Gecko and the same could be done in Chromium. Among the things I enjoyed, I met Jonathan Kew in person and heard more about Antonio and Maksim’s progress on Ozone/Wayland. As usual, it was nice to share time with colleagues, attend the assembly meeting, play football matches, have meals, visit Asturias… and tell one’s story 😉.

Week 41: San Jose - WebKit Contributors Meeting - Apple

In the past months, I have mostly been working on WebKit at Igalia and I would have been happy to see my fellow WebKit developers. However, given the events in Japan and Spain, I was not willing to make another trip to the USA just after. Hence I had to miss the WebKit Contributors Meeting again this year 😞. Fortunately, my colleagues Alex, Michael and Žan were present. Igalia is an important contributor to WebKit and we will continue to send people and propose some talks next year.

Week 42: Paris - Monthly Speaker Series - Mozilla

This Wednesday, I attended a conference on Privacy as a Competitive Advantage in Mozilla’s office. It was nice to hear about the increasing interest on privacy and to see the regulation made by the European Union in that direction. My colleague Philippe was visiting the office to work with some Mozilla developers on one of our project, so I was also able to meet him in the conference room. Actually, Mozilla employees were kind enough to let me stay at the office after the conference… Hence I was able to work on Apple’s Web Engine on a project sponsored by Google at the Mozilla office… probably something you can only do at Igalia 😉. Last but not least, Guillaume was also in holidays in Paris this week, so I let you imagine what happens when three French guys meet (hint: it involves food 😋).