back to article No longer prepared to svn commit: WebKit migrates to GitHub

Apple web rendering engine WebKit, the basis of its Safari browser, is migrating to Git. The project will now adopt the Git tool for version tracking and the GitHub service as host for its source code. It previously used Apache's source code management system, Subversion (aka svn). The project said it froze its Subversion …

  1. devjoe

    It's a little sad to see the article start with "Apple-developed web rendering engine..."

    The reason even the most up to date Chrome and Safari browsers still have KHTML in their user-agent header is because of the KDE heritage.

    Were it not for The Kalle Dalheimer Experience project (KDE for the uninitiated) and their bold move to go and build a HTML rendering engine the right way rather than trying to shoe-horn the Mozilla hodgepodge into a working browser application, there wouldn't have been a Konqueror browser with a KHTML rendering engine that was so good that when Apple wanted to build a browser they actually chose it as their base and said "we can build on this".

    So yeah, Apple invested massively in this. But they did not start it, and had it not been for the KDE project and the amazing Konqueror initiative, Apple might well have chosen to build on Mozilla and who knows what Google might have done (instead of building on webkit) for Chrome... The world surely would have been a darker place and my point is I just think KDE should get a bit of credit for that.

    1. Claverhouse Silver badge

      I've often pointed out Konqueror was an exceptional file manager and a good browser; whereas Dolphin is indifferent as either.

      So they then twisted towards Dolphin.

  2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    Apple stepping back?

    Sounds like a prelude to disengaging from the project.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Apple stepping back?

      Especially since they are effectively handing over control to Microsoft.

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: Apple stepping back?

        That's not really true: Microsoft just provides the hosting for the main repo + services. There's no transfer of ownership and they're already welded to Blink but it may give them more data to mine…

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Apple stepping back?

          Except what happens if the day before the release of some new Apple product based on Webkit, Microsoft decides that it violates their terms and conditions and block access ?

          Yes Apple can take some developer local copy and upload that to Gitlab - but why would you risk it?

          I'm betting that Apple don't run their business on Office365.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Apple stepping back?

            And here I thought Microsoft was the one known for sowing FUD.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward



            Ever consider they just wanted to move off a stale and finicky repo tool, and just went with the one their devs were already using? Also, the hosted repo isn't really a critical distribution point for ANYTHING, so a rug pull by the host wouldn't be critically disruptive, and the project would just land somewhere else. It's not like a ton of webkit clients are getting built from source by end users. The packages and publishers aren't going to lose sleep over your imagined M$ v Apple fanboy war.

            1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

              Re: Weak

              >Also, the hosted repo isn't really a critical distribution point for ANYTHING,

              But it causes massive disruption.

              We do stuff in a very regulated industry so we have to be totally on-prem. Atlassian cancelled their self-hosted version so we have spent 6months planning for a move to our own servers, along with proving all the build and test procedures will be exactly the same and meet all the regulations and that we documented all the tests, and we documented that we documented it etc

              Putting a core bit of your OS out to Github suggests that you have an internal replacement and you are abandoning this bit

              1. Vehlin

                Re: Weak

                I bet that the majority of your on prem stuff is not open source. GitHub makes sense for an open source project like WebKit, because if you're going to hide it away on prem then it's harder for other companies to contribute.

                1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

                  Re: Weak

                  The source hasn't been hidden thus far, just hosted by Apple and that hasn't stopped people and companies contributing. The open source nature of WebKit is not relevant for Apple's risk assessment, and Apple is by far the biggest user of WebKit, which is why this looks a lot like Apple stepping away.

          3. chasil

            All repositories are equal

            A central tenant of git is that all repositories are equal.

            To work on a single file in a repo, you must clone or pull the entire repository.

            A central repository is not really special.

    2. DS999 Silver badge

      Re: Apple stepping back?

      Sounds like a prelude to disengaging from the project

      In what world is changing your source control system "disengaging from the project"? They are switching to git because that's what most open source developers use now. Making it easier for more outsiders to contribute doesn't mean Apple is walking away. This should be praised, subversion is old school - probably many younger open source developers don't know how to use it and don't want to learn.

      What I think Apple ought to do is make Safari an open source project with Apple still in charge. Let people create ports for Linux and Windows, and we would have another viable alternative to the Chrome hegemony since Firefox can't carry the whole load of that by itself.

      I'm curious if this might reflect a change inside Apple as far as source code management.

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: Apple stepping back?

        It's not the change from svn to git that matters, if it did the change would have happened a long time ago. But the hosting that suggests a change. Apple easily has the resource to run its own git infrastructure.

        probably many younger open source developers don't know how to use it and don't want to learn They're probably not going to want to work on "oldschool" things like C++ either. Switching VCS doesn't magically get you more developers.

        What I think Apple ought to do is make Safari an open source project with Apple still in charge.

        Dream on! As with Google's Chrome, that's never going to happen while they use it to make money.

        1. DS999 Silver badge

          Re: Apple stepping back?

          Microsoft bought Gittub, and that's where the vast majority of open source git based projects are stored. Why should they want to run their own infrastructure when Microsoft already has it?

          Apple obviously runs their own infrastructure internally - they would only pull/merge from the public github store occasionally. They aren't doing their internal development off a cloud based platform.

          How is Safari making Apple money? They don't charge for it, it isn't competitive advantage like say iMessage. But having more people use it would be a good thing for them even if they don't profit directly, because web developers would have to pay it more attention when considering compatibility with browsers other than Chrome.

  3. that one in the corner Silver badge

    El Reg does know that Subversion is FOSS, right?

    > The project said it froze its Subversion tree and transitioned management and interaction with its source code to the free and open-source software on GitHub on June 23.

    Even if you access svn via https, that is commonly Apache..

  4. StrangerHereMyself Silver badge

    Rendering engine

    Why should anyone contribute to a rendering engine if the browser based on it (Safari) isn't open-source? WebKit's source code is only useful as a reference to compare it to other WebKit-based engines (such as Google's or Microsoft's version).

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Rendering engine

      Blink was a fork of WebKit but I think it's fair to say it's no longer based on it.

  5. pavel.petrman

    Git is good, GitHub questionable

    I'm surprised that such a beast could at all have benn developed for so long on SVN. We switched our comparatively small projects to Git years ago and we would never go back. Git can be quite intimidating to SVN users, but the internal logic pairs well with how C++ works, so it shouldn't be that much of a problem for WebKit devs.

    But why GitHub? It's even not the high fashion anymore, let alone the optimal choice from technical, legal and reputational point of view. Many reg articles attest to that.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Git is good, GitHub questionable

      SEP - divesting itself of the hosting responsibility makes it Somebody Else's Problem.

  6. Cuddles Silver badge

    Interesting juxtaposition

    Article headline directly below this one - "Merge requests and insecure GitHub workflows may lead to supply-chain attacks"

  7. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

    Moving from one tool they don't understand to another they don't understand

    Git’s local record of commit messages, along with Git log’s ability to limit commit history to certain parts of the repository,

    Both of which are available in Subversion.

    mean large projects no longer require antiquated ChangeLog files be checked in with each commit

    Just as in Subversion, if you understand how to use it.

    What users may find frustrating with the move is that git hashes are not naturally ordered, so WebKit will be employing a system of "commit identifiers" to keep track of ancestors

    And they're layering some half-assed manual process on top of git, because, again, they can't use it properly. Well, at least they're consistent.

    1. teebie

      Re: Moving from one tool they don't understand to another they don't understand

      I wondered what they were on about. I've used svn for years, but never had to deal with a ChangeLog.

      When a company is flailing around not knowing what they are doing the last thing they need is git.

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