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Safari, a warning for Mozilla

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Many have wondered why Apple chose the KHTML engine, the basis of the Konqueror browser, instead of the much more common Mozilla.

Among many assumptions and many more or less imaginative hypotheses, an official response comes from an e-mail message sent to the KHTML working group by Don Melton, the most responsible for the Safari project. The message, which sounds to confirm what Jobs said during the keynote, underlines that there were two reasons: the speed of the rendering engine and the agility of the code.

β€œThe size of the code and the ease of development – says Melton – have made KHTML the best choice for us compared to other projects. The linear design of the code was another advantage. And the small size of your code is yet another reason for Safari's successful debut. "

Melton does not quote Mozilla in any way, but many have read behind this message an implicit criticism of the Open Source project behind Netscape. Criticism that appears to be based on something more than an external reflection, given that many of the engineers involved in the creation of Safari are also veterans of the Mozilla code, including David Hyatt, who gave birth to the Chimera project. Melton himself, a veteran of Eazel, a company that set out to create a consistent interface on Linux, contributed to the launch of the Mozilla project.

The fact that a group of former Mozilla developers has decided to operate on another Open Source code could be taken as a sort of "deadly offense" for those who are still operating on the Netscape engine.

In reality, on the contrary, Apple's choice seems to have provoked a sort of awareness and critical revision by the Mozilla community.

Various statements to the C / Net site, which publishes an article on the subject, appear to understand, if not even share, the choice of Cupertino.

"We all realize – writes a developer Mike Shave – that Mozilla has missed the goal of being a light and slender navigator. Had I been in Apple's shoes I would have done the same. Mozilla should learn from Safari and KHTML "

Although many of us – said Jamie Zawinski, another of the founders of the Mozilla project – are accustomed to working on Mozilla, we must admit that the gigantic code, complicated not to mention its speed with internal API so ruffled and baroque that frankly to sometimes it is difficult to understand where to start "

That Apple has not made any distinctions with respect to the engine, avoiding to evaluate "political" issues (such as the link between Mozilla and AOL), also confirmed by some analysts who argue that Apple's only objective was actually to create a fast and efficient navigator.

And precisely because Apple, from its experience in software and on the advice of some Mozilla veterans, has chosen another Open Source engine, it appears even more as a wake-up call for the Netscape Open Source project which, in the judgment of many observers, he should seriously reflect on what is going on.

We remind you that Safari uses the Netscape plug-ins, as reported by the related product managers in San Francisco, and is compatible with them, therefore able to take advantage of all those already operating on Mac OS X.