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The Icon Bar: News and features: 2 new Web browsers preview at SW Show
 

2 new Web browsers preview at SW Show

Posted by Mark Stephens on 07:43, 8/3/2019 | ,
 
You wait ages for news of one exciting web browser and then two come along at once....
 

 
At the South-West Show we were treated to not one but two potential browser developments. Both are still very much 'alpha' stage but developing fast. The really critical feature of both is that they build ontop of Webkit. This gives a powerful, modern rendering engine with JavaScript support. Webkit is used by Apple in its Safari browser.
 
OWB is a port of Origyn Web Browser which has been popular on the Amiga platform. We were told that the demo at the show represented just 9 weeks work. So lots of things do not work yet. The UI looks like the old Acorn !Browse with the same buttons and feel. The software loads very fast and can handle some quite tricky JavaScript pages. The only time the software was noticeably slow was in screen scrolling. There are plans to improve this....
 
The developer was at the show and able to give us more details. This port is not using the latest release of OWB - plans are to experiment with this soon. The plan is also to make use of RISC OS fonts to give a more native feel and much faster scrolling.
 
The other Browser is called Iris and looks like a more generic port of Webkit. Andrew had some screenshots of it opening multiple tabs and several complex pages (like the Argos shopping page).
 
We looks forward to being able to beta test both these exciting developments when they are ready for release.
 
  2 new Web browsers preview at SW Show
  Gavin (14:09 8/3/2019)
  richw (17:09 11/3/2019)
    hubersn (11:23 12/3/2019)
      richw (12:56 12/3/2019)
        micken (14:53 12/3/2019)
          richw (17:05 12/3/2019)
            micken (22:10 12/3/2019)
      arawnsley (23:26 12/3/2019)
        hubersn (16:35 13/3/2019)
          arawnsley (17:37 13/3/2019)
            hubersn (15:41 15/3/2019)
              Stoppers (22:28 20/3/2019)
        richw (22:30 13/3/2019)
        arawnsley (00:41 22/3/2019)
 
Gavin Wraith Message #124456, posted by Gavin at 14:09, 8/3/2019
Member
Posts: 22
Excellent news. It is only tangentially relevant, but on my Raspbian machine I have recently installed Luakit (https://luakit.github.io) to play with, which is a related Webkit browser project that has been around for a few years. Its advantage for me is that I am happier hacking Lua than Javascript. It uses the GTK+ toolkit. I have no idea how difficult it would be to port to RISC OS.
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Richard Walker Message #124457, posted by richw at 17:09, 11/3/2019, in reply to message #124456
Member
Posts: 40
Interesting how two come along at once! It looks like the most popular engines are Blink (inside Chrome, and soon Microsoft Edge), WebKit (inside Apple Safari) and Gecko/Quantum (inside Firefox). So being able to port one of these is extremely useful. I can't other groups being able to pour in enough effort to build comparable engines: even Microsoft have chucked in the towel!

I'm quite liking the Browse-esque UI on Michael's browser: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/D0G7mIwWsAAyVId.jpg:large

Where can we read about the OWB and Iris projects, regardless of RISC OS? I ask because the items I find online look a bit, erm, abandoned!
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Steffen Huber Message #124458, posted by hubersn at 11:23, 12/3/2019, in reply to message #124457
Member
Posts: 80
Where can we read about the OWB and Iris projects, regardless of RISC OS? I ask because the items I find online look a bit, erm, abandoned!
AFAIK both OWB and Iris were abandoned around 2009/2010.

So we get to choose between NetSurf (cannot access modern JavaScript-based sites), Otter/QupZilla (very very slow and memory intensive, very un-native look&feel) and OWB/Iris (probably fast enought to be usable, but main engine 10 years out of date).

The main problem is that every "modern" browser has an eye-watering amount of 3rd party library dependencies, most of those are not really easy to port in a halfway optimized way to RISC OS. It would really need a team of dedicated porters with an intimate knowledge of Linux, RISC OS and the involved libraries. And it would be an ongoing effort to keep it up-to-date.

That said, a polished port of something WebKit-based with a usable speed would still be a huge step forward for RISC OS browsing!
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Richard Walker Message #124459, posted by richw at 12:56, 12/3/2019, in reply to message #124458
Member
Posts: 40
Interesting. I was hoping that although OWB/Iris might be old, the core WebKit would have been relatively up-to-date. Perhaps not.

I agree that even a (decade-?) old WebKit browser would be a step forward.

I was wondering about the porting in general. I guess it's a GCCSDK environment? I bet they are not exactly flush with developer resources, either.
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Michael Grunditz Message #124460, posted by micken at 14:53, 12/3/2019, in reply to message #124459
Member
Posts: 8
Worth mentioning that the current version of owb is still developed for MorphOS, but with a different name. As soon as I have put together the riscos front-end I will rebase to current code. To name something, ms office web version runs on it.
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Richard Walker Message #124461, posted by richw at 17:05, 12/3/2019, in reply to message #124460
Member
Posts: 40
Sounds good, Michael. I'm loving the user interface screenshot - I always thought Browse was the best in that department.

It did strike me as odd that although WebKit is current, OWB/Iris were seemingly not. You'd think there would be plenty of traction behind using the WebKit engine in various ways.
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Michael Grunditz Message #124462, posted by micken at 22:10, 12/3/2019, in reply to message #124461
Member
Posts: 8
The thing with WebKit engine is that it is made to be modular. My goal is to have a browser that interacts with RISC OS, starts and renders quickly and is capable as a modern web browser. The current test implementation is starting and loading just as fast as netsurf on machines with fast disc io. It is very important for me that it feels like a RISC OS program and not something alien. For example, I am not sure if tabs is the way to go. I think that netsurfs multi window and pin to thumbnail is pretty brilliant. The current OWB is already a real RISC OS application. It handles events like any other app.
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Andrew Rawnsley Message #124463, posted by arawnsley at 23:26, 12/3/2019, in reply to message #124458
R-Comp chap
Posts: 493
Michael has you covered on OWB, here's more on Iris...

I need to check with Lee, but I don't think !Iris is anything to do with the discontinued Iris browser. The dates wouldn't fit.

!Iris uses a current webkit, as far as I know, which wouldn't make sense given that the "other" Iris is discontinued. There are no ported UI elements either, so I'd be quite surprised if that's the pedigree, but I need to check with Lee.

Iris comes from Lee's on-going work to bring a "modern" Webkit 2 over to RISC OS, which basically broke GCC/GCCSDK. So, he's had to bring over a whole new GCC toolchain (v8?) and new support modules. None of this would really fit with the Iris mentioned earlier in the thread, so I think that's a red herring.

I need to chat with Lee anyway, so I'll bring this up and give a more definitive answer.

(Also, the icons look nothing alike!).

PS, Richard, you have me to blame(?) for the Browse UI elements. I figured there was quite a lot of love for Browse still, and when ROD acquired Castle, we gained all of those elements, so it seemed eminently sensible to use them. I actually created a couple of extras in the same style (zoom buttons) for the show demo. Hope everyone approves smile

[Edited by arawnsley at 23:29, 12/3/2019]
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Steffen Huber Message #124464, posted by hubersn at 16:35, 13/3/2019, in reply to message #124463
Member
Posts: 80

Iris comes from Lee's on-going work to bring a "modern" Webkit 2 over to RISC OS, which basically broke GCC/GCCSDK. So, he's had to bring over a whole new GCC toolchain (v8?) and new support modules. None of this would really fit with the Iris mentioned earlier in the thread, so I think that's a red herring.
An updated GCC (8.3 is the current version) or maybe even Clang along with a nice fast LLVM virtual machine (one can dream...) would be great, but I have not heard anything about it.

Nothing in SVN yet, nothing on the GCC mailing list.
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Andrew Rawnsley Message #124465, posted by arawnsley at 17:37, 13/3/2019, in reply to message #124464
R-Comp chap
Posts: 493
Lee doesn't tend to trumpet his work (he was responsible for Qt previously). I believe the GCC 8.x work is a private project *for* Iris, with Iris being its testing/proving ground. I wouldn't expect public releases until it is further developed. But, nevertheless, that's what he's been doing for the last year (or so I'm told).
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Richard Walker Message #124466, posted by richw at 22:30, 13/3/2019, in reply to message #124463
Member
Posts: 40
Richard, you have me to blame(?) for the Browse UI elements. I figured there was quite a lot of love for Browse still, and when ROD acquired Castle, we gained all of those elements, so it seemed eminently sensible to use them. I actually created a couple of extras in the same style (zoom buttons) for the show demo. Hope everyone approves smile
Not blame at all, I like it! I always thought Browse looked good (even in earlier incarnations, such as InterTalk). It seemed to strive for Style Guide excellence and render pages nicely. It was slower than Fresco, but I thought the better look was a price worth paying.
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Steffen Huber Message #124468, posted by hubersn at 15:41, 15/3/2019, in reply to message #124465
Member
Posts: 80
Lee doesn't tend to trumpet his work (he was responsible for Qt previously).
Thank god we are in RISC OS world, where the probability that two competent developers are working on the same project, duplicating effort, is effectively zero.
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Simon Willcocks Message #124471, posted by Stoppers at 22:28, 20/3/2019, in reply to message #124468
Member
Posts: 291
Lee doesn't tend to trumpet his work (he was responsible for Qt previously).
Thank god we are in RISC OS world, where the probability that two competent developers are working on the same project, duplicating effort, is effectively zero.
It's never happened so far, has it? smile
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Andrew Rawnsley Message #124472, posted by arawnsley at 00:41, 22/3/2019, in reply to message #124463
R-Comp chap
Posts: 493
Have now spoken with Lee, and can confirm that RISC OS Iris has nothing whatsoever to do with any other Iris browser.

Lee simply liked the eye/iris connection to "view" web pages, and liked the word.

We may need to re-think it in due course - suggestions to the usual address - but for now, Iris is Iris smile

In other news, having resolved a fault in UnixLib's error handler, we've been able to figure out why it wasn't running on my machine, so that's a big step forwards smile
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The Icon Bar: News and features: 2 new Web browsers preview at SW Show