WebKitGTK+ Hackfest 2013: The Return of the Thing

The WebKitGTK+ Hackfest 2013As many other WebKitGTK+ hackers (30 in total), I flew last Saturday to A Coruña to attend the 5th edition of the WebKitGTK+ Hackfest, hosted once again by Igalia at their premises and where people from several different affiliations gathered together to try to give our beloved port a boost.

As for me, I flew there to work mainly on accessibility related issues, making the most of the fact that both Joanie (Orca maintainer) and Piñeiro (ATK maintainer) would be there too, so it should be possible to make things happen faster, specially discussion-wise.

And turns out that, even if I feel like I could have achieved more than what I actually did (as usual), I believe we did quite well in the end: we discussed and clarified things that were blocking the mapping of new WAI-ARIA roles in WebKitGTK+, we got rid of a bunch of WebKit1-specific unit tests (Joanie converted them into nice layout tests that will be run by WebKit2GTK+ too), we got a few new roles in ATK to be able to better map things from the web world and and we fixed a couple of issues in the way too.

Of course, not everything has been rainbows and unicorns, as it seems that one of the patches I landed broke the inspector for WebKit2GTK+ (sorry Gustavo!). Fortunately, that one has been rolled out already and I hope I will be able to get back to it soon (next week?) to provide a better patch for that without causing any problem. Fingers crossed.

In the other hand, my mate Brian Holt joined us for three days too and, despite of being his first time in the hackfest, he got integrated pretty quickly with other hackers, teaming up to collaborate in the big boost that the network process & multiple web processes items have went through during the event. And not only that, he also managed to give a boost to his last patch to provide automatic memory leak detection in WebKitGTK+, which I’m sure it will be a great tool once it’s finished and integrated upstream.

Anyway, if you want more details on those topics, or anything else, please check out the blog posts that other hackers have been posting these days, specially Carlos’s blog post, which is quite extensive and detailed.

Samsung LogoOf course, I would like to thank the main sponsors Igalia and the GNOME Foundation for making this thing happen again, and to my employer Samsung  for helping as well by paying our trips and accommodation, as well as the snacks and the coffee that helped us stay alive and get fatter during the hackfest.

Last, I would like to mention (in case anyone reading this wondered) that it has indeed felt a bit strange to go the city where I used to live in and stay in a hotel, not to mention going to the office where I used to work in and hang around it as a visitor. However, both my former city and my former colleagues somehow ensured that I felt as “at home” once again, and so I can’t do anything about it but feeling enormously grateful for that.

Thank you all, and see you next year!

I’m going to GUADEC!

I'm attending GUADECOne year again GUADEC is approaching and, also again, I’m very happy to say that I’ll be there as well this time, even if I have to recognize it was not on my plans for this year, at least not initially.

And the reason why it was not initially in my plans was mainly because I’ve been already through quite some changes during these past months year, and my family just came over to the UK two months ago. This means that, even I already arrived by the beginning of the year, we just started to settle here as a family a few weeks ago. So in that context, I didn’t feel like leaving them alone for one week already now, it definitely would look like a “wrong management of priorities” to me.

However, it turns out that my wife and kids won’t be here anyway during the first week of August and, on top of that, Samsung has been so kind to sponsor this trip just based on the simple fact that I’m part of the GNOME community. So, I certainly can no longer find a single reason not to go and spend 7 amazing days in Brno, meeting people that I normally see only in conferences (and this time that group of people will be bigger than ever, since my former mates from Igalia are now also included there), while attending to what it seems to be a very appealing event.

Also, I will try to make the most of the trip to do some work during the different hackfests and BoFs that are already planned, which special focus in the one about accessibility, of course. As a personal goal, I expect to have the chance to move forward some work I’ve been doing lately in the WebKitGTK+ a11y world, such as getting rid of the nasty dependency on Pango/Gail we still have there, something I’ve been already working on for some time now, and which I expect it will be fixed soon, hopefully before GUADEC, although time will tell.

Once that it’s fixed, WebKit2GTK+ based apps should recover the ability to properly expose text through the atk_text_get_text_*_offset() family of functions for different text boundaries, which means that ATs (e.g. the Orca screen reader)  will be able to properly allow again line-by-line navigation when in caret browsing mode. And, as you can imagine, this is quite a big problem these days, since WebKit2GTK+ that has become the default backend for some core apps such as the Epiphany browser with the GNOME 3.8 release, so fixing this is like a high priority now, I’d say.

Samsung LogoAnyway, I’m starting to write too much (as usual) for what it was going to be a short “I’m going to GUADEC” blog post, so I will stop right now, although not without first thanking Samsung for sponsoring this my first trip to the Czech Republic.

See you all in three weeks!

WebKit Contributors Meeting 2013

It turns out I’m writing this post at 6:00 AM in the morning from a hotel instead of doing it at a more reasonable time from my comfy home or a nice cafeteria in Staines. That’s already quite a new thing by itself, and the reason for that is not that I became crazy or something, but the fact that I’m completely jet-lagged in California right now in order to attend my second WebKit Contributors Meeting (my first time was in 2011), this time as part of the Samsung team in the UK R&D center, together with my mate Anton Obzhirov.

With regard to that, it has been a very interesting experience so far where I could meet new people I still haven’t had the chance to see in real life yet (e.g. my mates from other Samsung R&D centers or some guys from Apple I didn’t have the chance to meet in person before), as well as chat again with some friends and former mates that I haven’t seen for a while, such as Martin, Xan and Philippe from Igalia, Byungseon from LG, Nayan from Motorola or Gustavo from Collabora to mention some of them. It’s strange, and at the same time wonderful, how easily you can catch up on conversations with people that you barely see once a year (or even less) and mainly in conferences, and definitely one of my favourite parts of attending these kind of events, to be honest.

Also, from a less social point of view, I have to say I found very interesting the sessions I’ve attended so far, specially the one about “managing the differences between ports”, although the one about “build systems” was quite interesting too. Not sure how far we are yet in the WebKitGTK+ port from realistically switching to some kind of commonly agreed build system (cmake?), but at least it’s a good start to agree on the fact that it would be an interesting move and now that some people pushing for it.

My only regret about this first day is that I missed Hyatt‘s talk about pagination due to some health issues I’m experimenting while in California, mostly due to the extremely hot and dry weather (anything over 25 Celsius is “unbearable hot” for me), which is causing me a little bit of cough, sore throat and fever, all well mixed with the jet lag to make it a perfect “welcome pack” to the meeting. Fortunately, I got some “interesting” medicines that seem to have relieved a bit the pain and I could attend the rest of the sessions without much trouble, other than some occasional coughing. Not bad.

By the way, for those of you who were not lucky enough to attend the meeting but are anyway interested in the topics being discussed here, make sure you check the main TRAC page for the meeting, where you can also find transcripts for most of the sessions.

As for today, some more sessions will take place as well as a couple of hackathons so I expect it to be very interesting as well. Also I hope I can find some time too to work a bit on my patches to remove the nasty dependency on pango we have in WebKitGTK+ accessibility code, which is preventing us to have proper caret navigation in WebKit2GTK+ based browsers, as well as to discuss possible ways in which our lab could collaborate more actively upstream. Seems a promising day already!

Last (but not least), and in a completely unrelated and super-off-topic way, I would like to tell the world that I’m extremely happy for the fact that next week will be the end of my “lonely existence in the UK”, finally. After 4 months of living alone in Staines away from my family with just some flash trips from Friday to Sunday (every 2 weeks), I’m once and for all travelling on Thursday to my home town with a one way plane ticket to do some final arrangements, put everything (family included!) in the car and travel to Santander, where we’ll be taking a ferry that will take us to the Portsmouth (southern coast of England), from where we will just drive to Staines in order to start our new life, all together again.

It has been quite hard for us to live this way for so long, but I think in the end we managed to handle the situation quite well, and now it seems all our efforts are already paying off because things seem to be finally fitting in the right places: we have a lovely house in Staines, we have a place in a nearby public school for my oldest kid to start on September, most of the needed paperwork seems to be done and we already moved all our stuff from Spain (lots of toys!), which is now waiting to be used in our new place.

I really can’t wait to live again in the noisy and chaotic atmosphere that two kids can so easily create around them. Even if that means it will probably drive me crazy every now and then and that I won’t sleep that well sometimes.

Yes. Even considering that.

GUADEC, WebKit and bikes

I'm going to GUADECIt seems this year GUADEC is going to be pretty close to my place and so I will surely attend, but this time I won’t go by plane but by bike, which since some months ago has become my main vehicle for moving around the beautiful city where I live in: A Coruña.

Also, besides hanging around the venue and trying to help as much as possible as the local I am, I’ll be talking about WebKitGTK+ in the afternoon on Thursday 26th, so feel free to come round the room if you feel curious about the current status of the whole thing and the current plans for the short and medium term, which are mostly focused around WebKit2 and the roadmap we’re already following.

You probably already read some news related to this coming from my mates in the Igalia WebKit team, (like the improvements in Accelerated Compositing or the migration of our handsome browser Epiphany to using WebKit2), yet I will try to deliver an interesting talk to y’all. I just hope I’ll be able to do it (but please forgive me if I don’t).

So that’s it. As usual, just feel free to talk me if you see me around if you want. I’ll basically be around the venue most of the time during GUADEC, and will attend a11y and WebKitGTK+ BoFs on the 30th and 31st, so I’d say it will be pretty easy to find me.

Back to FOSDEM

So it seems I’m going to FOSDEM this year (yay!), together with a bunch of other Igalians who will be attending as well, coming from different places from across the globe (well, mainly from Europe this time).

I know some people will probably disagree with me on this, but for me FOSDEM is one of the greatest events of this kind, and so I’m quite happy to go there this time, specially after not being able to attend last year due to some unexpected (and unavoidable) personal matters.

Opposite to other occasions, this time I’ll be there not only as an attendant but also as an speaker, talking about WebKitGTK+, its status and the roadmap of the project towards WebKit2 (the split process model “flavour” of WebKit), together with my mate Philippe, on Sunday afternoon. Thus, for the first time ever, nobody will be able to accuse me of going there just because of the beer event, which wouldn’t be true anyway.

For the impatient ones, the talk will be mainly about reporting on the work done during the last months in “WebKitGTK+ land“, as well as on the stuff that is already planned for the upcoming releases. Good examples of those would be, for instance, the ongoing effort to add support for Accelerated Compositing, or just the new features related to WebKit2GTK+ such as, of course, the solution for enabling accessibility support there. Ah! And of course, we’ll try to run some demos there too… fingers crossed!

Besides, I’m of course looking forward to meeting some people I haven’t seen for a while now (haven’t attended to the latest Desktop Summit either, due to very good reasons too), so if you see me around and want to chat and/or meet for a while, just let me know. I must look shy, but it’s usually a matter of minutes (seconds?) for my shyness to go away…

So that’s it. Just a final line to say “thanks” to my company for fully sponsoring this thing.

See you in Brussels!

WebKit Contributors Meeting, sockets & plugs

Last week some of the members of the Igalia WebKit team,  attended to the second edition of the WebKit Contributors Meeting in Cupertino, California, in order to gather round with other WebKit contributors to discuss and work around our favorite web engine, away from IRC and with a more personal and “human” touch.

WebKit Contributors Meeting '11 - group photo

As for me, it was the first time I attended this unconference and I have to say it was a great experience overall, even if accessibility (the field I usually work on through the GTK port of WebKit) was not precisely a hot topic there. But in the other hand, I managed to put some faces to people I just knew from IRC, attended to several interesting discussions and sessions, did some actual work ™ and met Chris Fleizach, the guy from Apple involved in accessibility for the Mac port, who attended the meeting on Tuesday morning and discussed with me some interesting topics, mainly about the implementation of the accessibility support in the Mac port of WebKit2.

For those of you that are not up to date with what WebKit2 means and what’s the current state of the whole thing, I’d recommend you to take a look to the WebKit2 wiki, although I can already advance you that one of the main features (if not the main one) of WebKit2 is the new multi-process architecture, which will go bundled right along with the engine, instead of doing the split in the final application, like Google Chrome does now with WebKit1 (see the wiki for more details, and some nice diagrams too, like the following one).

WebKit2 multi-process architecture

The problem however, from the accessibility point of view, is how to expose such a new architecture to Assistive Technologies (ATs) while, at the same time, having those ATs seeing just one process (the UI process), regardless of the different processes that would be running on each of the tabs (the Web proceses). In other words, how to “hide” to the ATs that they are extracting accessibility related information from a multi-process based browser, so they still keep the illusion of having only one application exposing accessibility objects, as it used to be so far.

Talking to Chris about how they implemented this in the Mac port, he told me they basically needed to make up a way to transparently connect the UI process and the Web Process, so navigation between the root accessibility object in the Web Process and the “leaf” accessibility object in the UI process were done in a seamless way, through a mechanism that would basically allow bidirectional communication in the same way it used to be when there was just one process running. This makes a lot of sense, if you ask me, since you “just” (saying it as if it were not a complex task, even though it actually is) add this mechanism to WebKit2 accessibility code and you’ll automagically get your ATs working as they used to work, without any other changes needed from their side.

However, when it comes to ATK/AT-SPI, which is what we currently use in GNOME to expose accessible objects from applications to ATs, it looks like such a mechanism (or something pretty similar) is already available by means of the AtkSocket and the AtkPlug classes, both subclasses of AtkObject, which basically act as a bridge that allows to connect two AtkObject‘s so the children of one of those (the Plug) are exposed as children of the other one (the Socket), no matter they’re in the same process or in different ones. And this, unless I’m missing something, is exactly what we’d need in WebKit2, probably along with some other things and tweaks that I just can’t think of at this moment. But at least is definitely a very good start point, IMHO.

But… how to communicate those sockets and plugs if they are in different processes? You might be wondering… Well, if you are using the D-Bus implementation of AT-SPI, also known as AT-SPI2, the needed bits for that (the implementation for the atk_socket_embed() and atk_plug_get_id() functions) are already implemented by the ATK bridge (at-spi2-atk), so the only thing you’ll need to do is to provide the remaining implementation of the AtkSocket and AtkPlug classes, register those new AtkObject‘s as the right accessible objects for your widgets (or whatever your “normal” objects are) and to use the ID that at-spi2-atk provides for the AtkPlug object to connect from the AtkSocket object… and you’re done.

However, I have to say that the documentation I’ve found so far about AtkSocket and AtkPlug is not precisely very detailed, so I basically ended up looking directly at the code and trying to write myself a small example to better understand things. And at this point, I asked in the #a11y channel in GIMPNet and it was Mike Gorse who kindly handed me out a nice tarball with an example they had written in C#, which was exactly what I was looking for. Yay! Thanks, Mike!

However, I’d be more interested in a plain C, GObject based, implementation of that example which would serve me both to better understand how it works and to use it as the base for further tests in WebKitGTK, so I went ahead and wrote it, and this is how the results look now, as seen through Accerciser‘s eyes:

AtkSocket / AtkPlug example in action

As you can see, there are two processes running, ta-socket and ta-plug, and in ta-socket we have an AtkObject named “The Socket” which is exposing, as his only child, the whole subtree present in the other process ta-plug, starting in another AtkObject named “The Plug”… which is exactly, although of course at a much smaller dimension, what I think we would like to see happening in the accessibility tree of any WebKitGTK based application in the future, once that WebKit2 is mature enough to replace WebKit1.

Obviously, this shouldn’t be taken as a “we’re done with WebKitGTK/WebKit2 when it comes to a11y” comment or the like. Actually this is just the beginning of the whole thing… But I think, or at least I would like to think, that is at least a good start point :-) .

And before you shoot… “yes”, I’m already planning to help improve the ATK documentation in this regard with the knowledge I acquired while working on this examples, even perhaps next week during the ATK/AT-SPI hackfest (it’s actually one of the proposed tasks) I’ll be attending here in Coruña, at the Igalia offices.

By the way, feel free to grab the source for this example from its git respository at gitorious:

git clone http://git.gitorious.org/atksocket-atkplug-example/mainline.git

Visita a las “Xornadas Libres” del GPUL

Gracias a la gente del GPUL, que me hicieron un hueco en la apretada (e interesante!) agenda de las “Xornadas Libres” de este año, hoy por la tarde he dado una charla en la Facultad de Informática de A Coruña acerca de git, uno de los sistemas de control de versiones más populares y más usados hoy en día.

Personalmente, tengo que reconocer que me cuesta ocultar mi pasión por esta herramienta, la cual tengo la suerte de poder disfrutar usando a diario, pero  espero que esa pasión no haya empañado la charla y que los asistentes, que aguantaron estoicamente el chaparrón de información hiper-concentrada que solté durante poco más de una hora, hayan extraído algo útil y positivo de la misma :-)

La charla fue básicamente una versión “evolucionada y extendida” de la charla que dí el pasado mes de Julio en la GUADEC-ES 2010, pero esta vez con un énfasis especial en explicar en más detalle algunas partes, así como de explicar/mencionar algunas cosas nuevas, lo cual hizo todavía más complicado que pudiese acabar en tiempo, pero bueno… al menos espero no haberme pasado demasiado.

Por último, para los que no hayan asistido, así como para los que hayan asistido pero no se hayan enterado de nada por mi forma un tanto apurada de dar la charla, aquí están las slides de la misma en formato PDF (en castellano).

Some updates on frogr 0.4 and myself

Too many things have happened to me during the last weeks (some good and some bad, as usual), but I still have found some time to continue improving frogr towards the 0.4 release, which I hope it’s gonna be, at least thinking of my very particular use cases, a very complete and functional release. Still, the UI won’t be great (I’d really need help with this), I know that… but I said “complete and functional”, right? I do not remember having mentioned “beautiful”, “eye candy”, or the like… that’s a matter, though, I’ll probably consider for following releases, but not for now.

The point of this post is that I declared yesterday the official start of the feature & string freeze phase for frogr, which basically means that what you can find in the NEWS file is exactly what you’ll find in the next release (which should happen in 2-3 weeks time), and that the awesome people in the GNOME translations teams can now work on adding new translations, or just updating the ones already present in the Damnes Lies platform, without having to worry about the strings changing again before the release.

Another thing I’d like to publicly say here and now, and which you might have already noticed from the previous paragraph, is that this release is gonna be the first one after having moved frogr to the GNOME infrastructure, which basically means that its previous site and mailing lists at Google Code, as well as the old repository at gitorious, are now deprecated in favour of live.gnome.org, GNOME’s bugzilla and GNOME’s git repository. And this, at least in my very personal opinion, is really great news for frogr, and I’m really happy about it.

Other than that, but related, last week I’ve finally decided to apply for the GNOME Foundation, and got accepted, which was also great news for me, since it was something already in the back of my mind for some time, and I guess I just needed a ‘trigger’ for daring to apply for it… and moving frogr to GNOME, together with all the a11y related work I’ve been doing during the past months in WebKitGTK+, as part of the WebKit team at Igalia, were actually good ‘triggers’ for that.

So a big ‘thank you’ to all who helped making all that possible, specially to Claudio Saavedra for encouraging for doing this moves, and to Christer Edwards, who kindly attended all my continuous requests to perform all the related tasks in record time.

By the way, as Claudio and some other workmates, I’ll be attending to FOSDEM once again this year thanks to the support from Igalia, where I’m starting to have a hard time sometimes to explain that the Beer Event has nothing to do with me willing to go every year :-) .

Anyway, apart from hanging around the venue, I’ll also be giving a talk about a11y in WebKitGTK+ in the accessibility devroom on Sunday, so that makes another pretty good reason for me to go this year. So, you see? It’s not only about beer!

Update [05/02/2011]: At the end, and due to unexpected and very important personal matters, I was finally not able to attend FOSDEM. Hopefully I’ll be able to go next year, but as for now I’d like to wish all the attendants of the 2011 edition have a great time there and enjoy this awesome meeting, which is one of my favorite ones every year.

WebKitGTK+ hackfest 2010

After the daily reports written by Diego in his blog, few more things can be told about the WebKitGTK+ hackfest hosted at the Igalia offices last week, but I’d like to comment anyway some impressions from my personal point of view, if you don’t mind reading them.

First of all, this was the second time I attended to this hackfest (I “kind of” attended last year hackfest as well) but now things were pretty different for me, basically because one year ago I was not part of the Igalia WebKit team yet, hence my contributions in the hackfest were pretty small (see my post back then for more details). However, this time I attended full-time to the event and I must say I’m really proud of the work I’ve been doing right there, which I hope will eventually lead to the resolution of this WebKit metabug, which was about fixing bugs blocking ORCA support from WebKitGTK based applications.

But fortunately, the work I’ve been doing during the last week was just a pretty small and humble contribution compared to all the work that has been done by the rest of the people attending to the hackfest, like fixing GTK3 and GObject Introspection issues, fully integrating in libsoup all the new cache stuff written for WebKitGTK (which eventually lead to removing the equivalent code from WebKitGTK, as my mate Sergio told some weeks ago, as soon as some bots upgrade to the latest version of libsoup), adding support for profiling in JavascriptCore, implementing some missing and advanced features into the DumRenderTree (aka DRT, the so beloved tool for writing functional tests), fixing spell-checking support… and bugfixing in general (as well as, most likely, lots of other things I’m failing to recall right now). You can read Diego’s blog for more details on those.

Other than that, there was also time for working in Epiphany were some notorious fixes and improvements also happened. Those I can remember right now are the new error pages for epiphany, the implementation of a certificates viewer and new font preferences, getting rid of GConf in epiphany-extensions and general bugfixing tasks. As you can easily understand, as the devoted and committed Epiphany user that I am, I’m pretty excited with these improvements as well. Not needed to say anything about this patch committed at the beginning of the hackfest, I guess, in my opinion this is one of those cases where a picture is clearly worth a thousand words:-)

hackfest mooded epiphany

So, as you can see it was a quite productive week after all here in Coruña!

Last but not least, I’d like to specially thank The GNOME Foundation for sponsoring the event, as well as Igalia and Collabora for helping make this possible once again. Hope we can repeat it next year, and that more people will join the event to help making WebKitGTK an even better web engine for the GNOME platform.

See pictures of the hackfest here:

Wrapping up the GNOME a11y hackfest

As I told in my previous post, I’ve spent the last week in Seville attending the GNOME Accessibility Hackfest, which was an amazing experience to me, so I guess now it’s time to talk about some (mostly personal and subjective) conclusions.

First of all, let’s repeat this was the first time I attended an a11y related hackfest, and from that point of view the experience was even better and more rewarding than what I’d expected. Meeting other a11y developers in real life and putting faces to them, along with being able to check the real needs that people demand from assistive technologies was an awesome experience, and way richer than just having a list of bugs in need of getting fixed.

Up to this point, I can say that one of the best things I extracted from the hackfest is that I’ve learned, with real-life living examples, why implementing certain kind of stuff in the WebKitGTK port is so important for people with diverse kind of impairements, and even learned to prioritize and value different a11y related issues so I could make the most of my work to be more effective when helping, with my humble 2 cents in my daily work, to make the next release of GNOME a good one also from the point of view of accessibility. Obviously, there’s still a long road ahead to keep learning and improving, but I think this is a good achievement anyway, if you ask me.

Other than that, together with Joanmarie Diggs, we managed to move some important things forward related to the integration of WebKitGTK based applications and the ORCA screen reader, so now the “ORCA experience” with the web is clearly better compared to how it was some months ago (or at least that’s what Joanmarie says, and I trust her). In this regard, I feel specially proud of the advancements we’ve been doing with the implementation of the AtkHypertext/AtkHyperlink related stuff, which makes the experience of “screen reading” a web page way better and more complete than how it would be without that feature. And I mention this stuff here, because that’s precisely what I’ve been working on most of the time during the hackfest and  because, even though it’s still a provisional patch pending on some final tweaks to be proposed for review, I hope it will be soon integrated in WebKitGTK…. (you know, ‘hope’ is a so beautiful word… but I feel somehow confident with this stuff, “let’s hope I’m right” :-) ).

So, as you can see I have reasons to be very happy about the results of the hackfest, even if we all were somehow jinxed because one reason or another, and the overall result of all this stuff is that I clearly felt a boost in my motivation to keep working on this stuff and to keep helping to improve the overall status of the accessibility from my beloved WebKit world… which is not that bad, IMHO.

My birthday cake coming from the GNOME a11y team, by Juanje OjedaLast but not least, I have to say there was room as well for having a lot of fun (“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”) with my mates from the GNOME accessibility team, who even had prepared a surprise for me in the shape of a cake to celebrate my birthday (see the picture below, by Juanje Ojeda).

Thank you guys! It was a really really nice experience! Let’s repeat it soon in the future… but as for now, let’s get back to work!