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Google funding offered to NetSurf project

Published: 17th Mar 2008, 20:07:56 | Permalink | Printable

Web browser accepted into Google Summer of Code 2008 scheme

NetSurf logoWeb giant Google is set to pay programmers to work on and improve NetSurf this summer. The web browser project was today accepted into the Google Summer of Code 2008 scheme, which promotes and funds open source software development. It's hoped the move will dramatically boost the profile of NetSurf, sparking further development of the freely available application.

Projects, such as NetSurf, are invited each year to enter Google's summer coding programme with a list of ideas for future development. Budding computer boffins can then apply to take up the todo lists and, if accepted, are paid by the search engine giant for their work. NetSurf, a web browser developed initially for RISC OS but has since sprouted various platform ports, was officially welcomed into Google's 2008 scheme, and university students have until March 31 to apply to take part. The final results are announced on April 14.

The NetSurf team's list of potential summer work includes a new CSS engine, native Microsoft Windows and Apple Mac OS X ports, support for keyboard navigation, improved printing support, a PDF export function, support for sight-impaired people with a text-to-speech engine, CSS dynamic pseudo class support, pulling the RISC OS user interface code into a library for use with other projects, extracting the web browser core into a portable library, improved inline element handling and and improved GTK user interface. Students can opt to offer their own feature ideas.

NetSurf GTK developer Rob Kendrick said: "Many, many students will be interested in participating in Google Summer of Code, more than there are places. So we're likely to get people be interested in us. On the bright side, this advertises NetSurf no end."

NS contributors John-Mark Bell, John Tytgat, James Bursa and Rob are set to act as mentors for the student or students given the green light to work on the web browser over the summer, guiding the paid contributors on how best to implement new features and understand the existing source code.

According to Google, its summer coding programme has involved more than 1,500 students in over 130 open source projects, creating millions of lines of code. The NetSurf project came to life in April 2002 and after five years of development, the first stable version of the browser was released at the Wakefield 2007 RISC OS show. The latest version, NetSurf 1.1, was released for RISC OS as well as Debian GNU/Linux in August last year.

The project was one of 175, out of 505 projects that applied to Google, to make it into GSoC 2008.


NetSurf website - its GSoC ideas The Google Summer of Code 2008 website

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Well done to the Netsurf team and hopefully we'll see some of the fruits to this later in the year.

 is a RISC OS Userbluenose on 17/3/08 9:23PM
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Congratulations once more to the NetSurf guys! What a great result, and I hope it leads to valuable new features. I guess the most immediate beneficiary is likely to be the GTK port, since I don't imagine many of the prospective coders will be RISC OS users. But with any luck the changes will benefit both streams.

 is a RISC OS Userlym on 17/3/08 9:23PM
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lym: Most of the ideas we have have OS-agnostic. Only a handful are RISC OS or GTK-specific. Hopefully we can get students interested in the ideas and projects that'll benefit all users, RISC OS and GTK alike.

 is a RISC OS Userrjek on 17/3/08 9:33PM
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Well Done guys - this is great news and must be a big lift to all those involved.

Cheers, Dave C.

 is a RISC OS UserDaveC on 17/3/08 11:00PM
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Well done guys for having for "balls" to apply for such funding. Hopeully we will see some benefit from this extra help later on in the year.

 is a RISC OS Usersa110 on 18/3/08 12:33AM
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Indeed - congrats guys on this. The most significant part is that the project has independantly been recognised as having merit. Having Google back it as well is double cause for cheer - it also neatly sidesteps that old chestnut of not having enough RISC OS developers by opening it up to a much bigger community of coders.

Again nicely done lads !

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 18/3/08 2:34AM
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Congratulations to all involved and I look forward to the new improved Netsurf.

 is a RISC OS Usercables on 18/3/08 11:58AM
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A much needed shot in the arm. This gives the browser much more credence in the open market, if the likes of Google are backing it.

Great news, well done guys!

 is a RISC OS Usersascott on 18/3/08 4:32PM
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If many of the prospective programmers aren't RISC OS savvy or even interested is there any groundwork that could be worked upon now (libraries etc for example as I understand the Unix Porting Project worked upon initially)? The worst thing as I see it would be future features being developed to the exclusion and exasperation of RISC OS users.

 is a RISC OS UserAW on 19/3/08 7:59PM
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AW: What are you trying to say? Most of the project ideas we've suggested for students to take up are platform-agnostic, and will benefit RISC OS and UNIX users alike. Would you rather we didn't take up their offers to work on NetSurf? Incidentally, I've compiled a document detailing gotchas that people who don't know about RISC OS may fall foul to, to help this: [link]

Additionally, we'll make sure that anything written by the students that should work under RISC OS works well.

 is a RISC OS Userrjek on 19/3/08 8:14PM
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First off: Huge congrats to the Netsurf team. This is not only a great opportunity but also a huge pat on the back from a big timer like google. I already look forward to hear the results. The worst it could do is introduce some new blood to risc os.

 is a RISC OS Userhighlandcattle on 19/3/08 8:31PM
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I found your RISC OS caveats page illuminating, if sobering.

One question: will the recent work on GCCSDK result in a potentially smaller NetSurf in the future? AIUI, support for shared libraries is one of the objectives of current work, which perhaps might bear on your final point?

 is a RISC OS Userlym on 19/3/08 8:52PM
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Yes, assuming a version of NetSurf is built that uses shared libraries. Given our experiences with the support requirements involved with separate distribution of the dependencies for NetSurf development builds prior to the release of 1.0, it's likely that we'll be particularly slow on the uptake here. Unlike then, we simply don't have the time to work through the issues, so someone else will have to bear that burden initially.

 is a RISC OS Userjmb on 19/3/08 10:13PM
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Good news. I wonder if it might be time to change the logo. Not only is it rather boring compared to the competitors, the use of a many-pointed star on a light-blue background is somewhat reminiscent of the Maersk logo ([link]). Yes, the NetSurf star has eight points to Maersk's seven, but still...

 is a RISC OS Usertorbenm on 25/3/08 8:26AM
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torbenm: I've always rather liked the logo - certainly after we replaced that rather, erm, over-zealous logotype with something plainer and more tasteful. Of course, people are free to draw new logos for the project, and the project as a whole will decide if they like it enough to switch :)

 is a RISC OS Userrjek on 25/3/08 10:41AM
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jmb: I hope that you'll be pleasantly surprised with the final form that shared libraries take. The GCC team have acknowledged the need for an improved system to merging !System. I would hope that moving to the use of shared libraries would *decrease* your support overhead rather than increase it. :)


 is a RISC OS Useradamr on 25/3/08 7:11PM
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I can only add another "well done" to the Netsurf team for applying to Google for the funding - are we allowed to ask how much? - and for being good enough to be part of the 35 per cent who won the funding. Dave Lane

 is a RISC OS UserDaveLane on 26/3/08 7:39PM
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adamr: We'll see :)

DaveLane: sure -- details are in the GSoC FAQ: [link]

 is a RISC OS Userjmb on 26/3/08 7:58PM
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