As an increasing number of applications and services shift to “the cloud”, close attention needs to be focused on the platforms that deliver these services to their users. From a user’s perspective, the browser implements the web platform. Therefore, it’s important that there is open community-driven discussion about the browser development process.
Browsers are hard - they must support a family of incredibly complex specifications, provide a safe user environment in the presence of scripts, maintain backwards compatibility for old specifications and features, and allow multiple complicated web-apps to run in parallel while remaining performant. With the range of services now exposed by the web, browsers have been likened to operating systems, and some projects, such as Google's ChromeOS and Mozilla's Boot to Gecko, are attempting to make this analogy a reality.
The Browser Miniconf is an opportunity to provide a focal point for discussing issues related to the development of open-source browsers. Several open-source browsers exist, and the two most popular rendering engines (Gecko and WebKit) both have vibrant and active communities of hackers in the Australasian region. This miniconf will allow those communities to meet and exchange ideas. Further, the miniconf will provide an access point for open source developers to discover more about the various browser efforts, and an introductory point for those developers interested in improving web browsers.
Last year’s Browser Miniconf attracted around 60 attendees, as well as 9 speakers from a variety of backgrounds. A highlight of the event was discussing some current issues in browser development and web specifications (e.g. browser-vendor prefixing of experimental features) with LCA attendees who are not traditionally involved in these discussions. If accepted, we will devote a block of time specifically to these discussions, and engage with the community to ensure we have a range of interesting and relevant topics.
Like last year, the Browser Miniconf will accept talk proposals in the following areas:
* browser internals, from birds eye right down to deep detail. Example titles: “1000 foot overview of the Firefox code-base”, “implementing accelerated compositing of layers in WebKit”
* integration of browsers with platform libraries and distributions. Example titles: “exposing Gecko to Gtk+ developers”, “why distros and browsers can’t all just get along”
* The browser development process. Example titles: “open source browsers, standardisation, and the web”, “Hacking Chrome - how hard can it be?”, “Why is the browser like a kernel?”
A note about the organizers: Cameron McCormack is a Software Engineer at Mozilla working on Gecko’s SVG implementation and participating in a number of Web standards efforts. Shane Stephens is a Software Engineer working on the CSS implementation in WebKit out of Google’s Sydney office. Cameron and Shane are excited about increasing communication between the various browser developers in the Australasian region, and about attracting more interest and new developers to browser development efforts.
Shane is a Software Engineer at Google, and a member of the Chrome team, working on WebKit’s implementation of CSS. Shane has been involved with the open source community since university.
Shane's previous FLOSS-related projects have included liboggplay, which is a library for synchronized playback of ogg media; the Annodex Firefox plugin; and the Google Wave project as part of the API team.
Cameron is a software engineer at Mozilla where he works mainly on Gecko's SVG and CSS internals. He is the editor of the Web IDL specification at the W3C Web Applications Working Group and also co-chairs the SVG Working Group.