Goodbye Pango! Goodbye GAIL!

As I mentioned in my previous post before GUADEC, I’ve been putting some effort lately on trying to improve the accessibility layer of WebKitGTK+, as part of my work here at Samsung, and one of the main things I’ve worked on was the removal of the dependency we had on Pango and GAIL to implement the atk_text_get_text_*_offset() family of functions for the different text boundaries.

And finally, I’m really happy to say that such a task is complete once and for all, meaning that now those functions should work as well or as bad on WebKit2GTK+ as they do in WebKitGTK+, so the weird behaviour described in bug 73433 is no longer an issue. You can check I’m not lying by just taking a look to the commit that removed both all trace of Pango and GAIL in the code, as well as and the one that removed the GAIL dependency from the build system. And if you want more detail, just feel free to check the whole dependency tree in WebKit’s bugzilla.

This task has been an interesting challenge for me indeed, and not only because it was one of the biggest accessibility related tasks I’ve worked on in WebKitGTK+ since late 2012 (so I needed to get my brain trained again on it), but also because reimplementing these functions forced me to dive into text editing and accessibility code in WebCore as I never did before. And it’s so cool to see how, despite of having to deal eventually with the frustrating feeling of hitting my head against a wall, at the end of the day it all resulted on a nice set of patches that do the work and help advance the state of the ATK based accessibility layer in WebKitGTK+ forward.

Anyway, even though that is probably the thing that motivated me to write this blog post, that was not the only thing that I did since GUADEC (which has been a blast, by the way):

On the personal side, I’ve spent two lovely weeks in Spain on holidays, which was the biggest period of time I’ve been outside of the UK since I arrived here, and had  an amazing time there just “doing nothing”(tm) but lying around on the beach and seeing the grass grow. And there is not much grass there anywhere, so you can imagine how stressful that life was… it was great.

In the other hand, on the professional side, I’d say that one of the other big things that happened to me lately was that I finally became accepted as a WebKit reviewer, meaning that now I can not only help breaking the Web, but also authorize others to do it so. And while agree that might be fun in some way, it probably would not be very cool, so forgive me if I try instead to do my best to help get exactly the opposite result: make things work better.

And truth to be told, this “upgrade” came just with perfect timing, since these days quite some work is being done in the accessibility layer for both the WebKitGTK+ and the WebKitEFL ports thanks also to my mates Denis NomiyamaAnton ObzhirovBrian Holt and Krzysztof Czech from Samsung, and that work would ideally need to be reviewed by someone familiar with the ATK/AT-SPI based accessibility stack. And while I’m still by far not the most knowledgeable person in the world when it comes to those topics, I believe I might have a fairly well knowledge about it anyway, so I assume (and hope) that my reviews will certainly add value and help with those specific pieces of work.

And as a nice plus, now I can finally “return the favour” to the only accessibility reviewer WebKit had until now (Chris Fleizach) by helping reviewing his patches as well, in a similar fashion to what he has been tirelessly doing for me for the last 3 years and a half. Yay!

To finish , I’d like to get back again to the original topic of this post and say a big “thank you” to everyone who helped me along the way with the removal of Pango and GAIL from the ATK specific code. Special thanks go to those who spend time performing the code reviews, as it’s the case of Martin, Gustavo and Chris. I wouldn’t be writing this post otherwise.


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