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NetSurf conquers Wikipedia

Published: 1st Jul 2006, 23:15:03 | Permalink | Printable

A knockout that doesn't involve the England footie team

The open source web browser NetSurf now supports so-called 'absolute positioning' in web pages - allowing it to correctly display the tricky Wikipedia front page for the first time. It can also handle more of CSS Zen Garden's exquisite and complicated designs. On top of this, the software's approach to display and redraw websites has been significantly optimised to make it more efficient. This 'knockout rendering' ensures each pixel is only plotted once, rather than multiple times as the browser builds up layers of elements to form the page.

NetSurf compares well to the stalled RISC OS Firefox port on Wikipedia

NetSurf at one with the CSS

Cookie support has been overhauled and re-introduced into the application, and a URL database was designed to hold addresses of webpages visited.

Michael Drake, of the NetSurf development team, said: "The browser renders many of CSS Zen Garden's design well now. It does a few perfectly, and most tolerably with a few issues here and there, a few poorly.

"The page layout has improved a lot this last week, cookies have been mostly implemented, and Richard Wilson has sped up the loading of the application and its general browsing speed."

How far away the team of volunteers are from releasing the fabled stable version 1.0 of NetSurf is "difficult to estimate", says Mike. Lists and other elements including :before and :after need to be supported, as well as the 119 bugs in the fault tracker which need addressing.


NetSurf website - the new knockout rendering can be activated by pressing control-F11 until it's more formally introduced into the application

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Will download the new version when I am back at home. Netsurf appears to be the best browser on the platform atm.

 is a RISC OS Usersa110 on 2/7/06 12:42AM
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Downloaded it yesterday and it seems good, although it seemed to be ignoring some aspects of CSS when pages were loaded from the local PC rather than the web (ie the same page looked different). Not sure a browser without JavaScript will ever be my number one.

 is a RISC OS Userbstewart on 2/7/06 9:44AM
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Were you accessing the pages on the PC acting as a webserver, or were you just loading the pages from a folder across the network?

If the latter, you might find Netsurf isn't picking up the CSS file - IIRC (my RPC isn't switched on to check) Netsurf doesn't load the CSS file unless it is correctly filetyped. You might want to ensure the correct mapping is therefore in Mimemap (and/or whatever file(s) your networking software uses if it doesn't use Mimemap) - it'll probably work then.

 is a RISC OS UserVinceH on 2/7/06 10:26AM
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wow even the ski club of gb site is almost correct brilliant & the sppeeds impressive too

 is a RISC OS Userccw on 2/7/06 6:45PM
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None of the Oreganos will do it, even RO FireFox wont do it, but now NetSurf renders [link] correctly, so I can read it straight away rather than having to wait until I'm at work.

Many thanks to all the team.

 is a RISC OS Userdruck on 2/7/06 8:37PM
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The knockout rendering code has now been fully enabled, so NetSurf uses it all the time with the latest build. The temporary Control+F11 shortcut has been removed.

bstewart: NetSurf should display pages with CSS on a local computer just as well as it does for sites on the internet.

If you mean loading a 'full saved' page (Shift+F3 or [Page > Full save] in NetSurf), then there are a few known issues concerning URL rewriting in CSS files. The main effect of this is that some background images may be missing.

 is a RISC OS Usertlsa on 2/7/06 10:25PM
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Excellent news indeed.

NetSurf has been my main browser for some time now, and while it cannot completely replace FireFox without Javascript, it is good to have the speed and aethetics of a native RISC OS application for the very large number of sites which do not have (or are usable without) active content.

 is a RISC OS Usergdshaw on 3/7/06 7:00AM
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Thanks both VinceH and tlsa - I'm staring at a Windows PC at work at the moment so can't try anything, but it was simply loading a page from the backup of my site on my hard drive which caused the problem (so no network and no 'full saved' pages). It could be the file typing and/or mimemap thing. I'll check tonight.

 is a RISC OS Userbstewart on 3/7/06 2:53PM
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In that case I think it's almost certainly the filetype not being set. It should be <checks...> F79.

As you were loading it locally, the mimemap entry won't be relevant in this case, but it's worth checking to ensure it's there. It should be:

text/css CSS f79 .css

(seperated by tabs, not spaces)

 is a RISC OS UserVinceH on 3/7/06 5:28PM
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What happened to the ownership of the Javascript interpreter in Browse? There's also an interpreter embedded in Rcomp's Webster and the non Javascript part of Webster just doesn't compare to Netsurf. So I would say there are, with some approporiate foresight, open discussions and desire to see RiscOS go forward, a possibility for Javascript in Netsurf.

 is a RISC OS Usermripley on 5/7/06 8:28AM
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mripley: My understanding (I'm happy to be corrected) is that javascript must be so heavily integrated into a browser's main rendering engine that the javascript parts of other browsers are of little use, even if the source is made available. So, realistically, Firefox is going to remain the only option for javascript-enabled websites.

 is a RISC OS Useradamr on 5/7/06 8:38AM
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Isn't WebsterXL (mostly) written in BASIC?

 is a RISC OS UserVinceH on 5/7/06 8:49AM
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mrripley: the presence of javascript in other browsers is meaningless, the bit that interprets javascript is easy, there are implementations on the web, but you can't just bolt them on to a non javascript browser like a plug-in for a particular graphics format.

The idea of javascript is that it can manipulate objects in the parsed html document model before and after its rendered on screen. This requires the internal data structures of the browser to be designed specifically to allow the javascript program to hook in to them, and the code that is called from the interpreted javascript is intimately linked to the particular browser.

Now I'm sure that NetSurf has been designed with at least the possibility of javascript in mind, so it would not require a ground up re-write as had to occur to many pre-javascript era browsers, but there probably would be significant changes in practice, and a huge amount of additional code written.

I'm sure one of the biggest issues is that implementing javascript would require a huge commitment of time from the developers, as it could effectively stop all other work for many months until completed, rather than flow of incremental changes which are possible improving the CSS support and general HTML rendering.

 is a RISC OS Userdruck on 5/7/06 9:31AM
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Thanks again VinceH (it's B Stewart by the way).

I sort of though that was the case (mimemap not relevant off-line) and the stylesheet was wrongly typed as DOS, but sadly correcting it to CSS has had no effect on the resulting page. I'l investigate the mimemap angle, or maybe I just write rubbish CSS.

 is a RISC OS Userbstewart on 5/7/06 10:25AM
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For any and all who might be interested in Javascript implementation, have a look here [link]

 is a RISC OS Userjustice on 5/7/06 1:18PM
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NetSurf needs to implement a DOM before any JavaScript work can be done. Personally, I'd like to get general browsing working well (generated content, pseudo elements) and all the outstanding bugs closed before considering switching focus to implementing JavaScript. The general development has raced onwards recently, and I'd advise everyone to upgrade to the latest version as it's got more features, it's much faster, it's even more stable and has much better rendering than it did a few weeks ago.

 is a RISC OS Usernot_ginger_matt on 5/7/06 4:04PM
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dave r : I know only too well that code is often written in a standalone mode. However given Netsurf's opensource links there is always the hope that it has been designed in a modular fashion. Likewise the javascript in the existing browsers may have been writtten in a similar manner.

One could always hope........

 is a RISC OS Usermripley on 5/7/06 4:32PM
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agreed :-)

I use Netsurf as my default browser with O2 sitting on the iconbar.

If JS is needed then a shift - drag'n'drop out of the URL bar onto the O2 icon (mostly :-( - hurry up O3...) & bingo - sorted! :-D

 is a RISC OS UserROHC on 5/7/06 7:35PM
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For anyone who hasn't followed the link above - it's a discussion about DOM and Javascript implementation on the Netsurf mailing list.

 is a RISC OS Userjustice on 6/7/06 1:36PM
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The discussion is also about 20 months old and the amount of code it generated for NetSurf was zero. I can assure you that the developers know what's needed for any kind of JavaScript implementation, but we believe getting a stable and functional browser done first is of a higher priority. We're still looking forward to a 1.0 release of the browser, and it won't be until *at least* this is achieved that we'd consider seriously altering any of the central core of the application.

 is a RISC OS Usernot_ginger_matt on 6/7/06 7:48PM
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mripley: Of course, NetSurf has been designed in a modular fashion, as have been the JavaScript interpreters in existing browsers, but that is not the issue. Just being modular does not help. Due to the way JavaScript works, there has to be a very close interaction between the JS interpreter and the core browser engine, so the whole data model of the existing implementation would need to be adapted to the view JavaScript expects to see.

 is a RISC OS Userwuerthne on 12/7/06 10:00AM
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In reply to wuerthne:

Ironic that you should say that, because the W3C went to great lengths to define the DOM in terms of pure interfaces so that (in theory) it avoids placing constraints on the underlying data model.

(In practice I'm inclined to agree with you: in any sane implementation the data structures need to be at least vaguely congruent to the DOM interfaces. Whether or not that is true of Netsurf at present I have no knowledge.)

 is a RISC OS Usergdshaw on 12/7/06 9:09PM
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