June 7, 2005 11:56 AM PDT

Apple opens up open-source effort

Apple Computer has expanded its open-source operations, cheering volunteer Web browser coders who had raised complaints against the computer maker.

Developers of the KHTML browser engine, which Apple selected more than two years ago as the basis of its Safari browser, in recent months complained that Apple was taking more from their open-source project than it was contributing to it.

Now Apple may have succeeded in mollifying those volunteers with the launch Monday of the WebKit Open Source Project amid a revamp of its open-source practices.

"The Safari team is proud to announce that we are making significant changes in the way we operate, and these changes start today," David Hyatt, an Apple engineer on the Safari project, wrote in his blog on Tuesday. "Going forward we will be engaging actively with the community. Find us on IRC and on the mailing list, jump in, and get involved!"

With the new site, Apple is addressing several complaints from KHTML coders about the lack of transparency in Safari development. Apple launched a CVS (Concurrent Versions System) repository that includes histories of Safari's WebCore browsing framework and JavaScriptCore scripting framework, letting volunteers examine code that was previously withheld from them.

Apple also released the WebCore API (application programming interface) called WebKit into open-source development. Hyatt said Apple would begin tracking bugs in public, and announced the launch of a public mailing list, webkit-dev@opendarwin.org, and a public IRC (Internet Relay Chat) channel, #webkit on irc.freenode.net.

When Apple chose KHTML as the basis of Safari--bypassing the better-known Mozilla open-source browser project--KDE developers had high hopes that Apple's involvement and investment would jumpstart the project.

KHTML was originally written to work in the Konqueror browser on top of KDE (the K Desktop Environment), an interface for Linux and Unix operating systems.

But two and a half years later, the comparative obscurity with which Apple coders carried out their work left KDE unable or unwilling to implement Apple changes. As a result, the KHTML and WebCore efforts began to diverge, or "fork," in programming parlance.

KDE developers on Tuesday applauded Apple's open-source reformation and expressed hope it would help bring the original and Apple's version closer together.

"It's a great thing," said George Staikos, a software consultant, KDE developer and spokesman for the open-source group. "Congratulations to Apple on opening up more code and moving to work closer with the community. I think it's a very progressive move, and I hope it will allow us to more easily work together to align our code bases again."

Respondents to Hyatt's blog expressed delight and some surprise that Apple had opened up its code so thoroughly.

"This is amazing! I'd never expect to see anything like this, especially from Apple--outstanding work!" wrote one commentator. "I'm very impressed that you did this," wrote another. "You basically addressed all the concerns the KDE people had, which is much more than you needed to do."

2 comments

Join the conversation!
Add your comment
Good work
Apple needed to give more back to the Open Source community. After all, 1/2 of MacOS is Open Sounce.
Posted by Andrew J Glina (1673 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I don't trust Apple
They will make this painfull, like all their products. If I were a KDE developer, I would mind my own bussines and let Apple go to hell or Intel or what ever they are doing. Too bad I don't have time to work on KDE in exchange for all their beatifull work. Any way, Apple is not reliable, and never will be. Just my two cents.
Posted by orfeu_niko (104 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

Join the conversation

Add your comment

The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Click here to review our Terms of Use.

What's Hot

Discussions

Shared

RSS Feeds

Add headlines from CNET News to your homepage or feedreader.