Been following the Safari discussions with some interest. Even when the Safari team told their reasoning it was something about the decission that made me wonder somewhat, but I hadn’t been able to put my finger on exactly what. Yesterday it struck me what didn’t make sense to me about the decision. It was to couragous or to desperate. I mean a big corporation never takes a chance and does something couragous. Going with a relativly unproven html engine is simply not something a big corporation would do when creating a browser. A big corporation goes with the safe choice, the rendering engine that is known to render the most pages correctly, that works with as many online banks as possibly and so on.
The only exception to this is when a big company is desperate about doing something that would give them an edge, at that point choosing the outsider candidate could be something a big corporation could do. But is Apple that desperate? Not in my opinion.
So what made them take the decision to choose khtml over gecko then? Well it wasn’t speed or memory use, as many people have pointed out, the statistics Apple gave about the advantages of Safari was mostly bogus and misleading. Shaver’s example of how they for instance compared khtml’s size to that of the Java-laden Netscape browser suite says it all.
Well reading Dave Hyatt diary was what triggered me seeing why the choice was made. He says ‘one of the goals of Safari is to provide a fast and efficient HTML rendering engine for Mac application developers. Apple is actively
preparing a Safari SDK that will be available later this year.’, in which context choosing khtml do make sense. I would think that having a html widget available for the developers is much more important than Safari the browser, Safari is mostly a PR stunt I would think. Anyway the things one would look for in a html widget is not really the same as the ones you look for in a html engine for a browser. For such a widget size and ease of modification becomes the important factors, which also happens to be the factors given by the Safari developers. The fact is that even GNOME use a khtml derrivative in the form of the Evolution gtkhtml widget, and many of reasons for the choice of khtml back then was the same as the reasons that Apple has for choosing khtml now.