Eyes Above The Waves

Robert O'Callahan. Christian. Repatriate Kiwi. Hacker.

Wednesday 22 November 2006

Firefox Summit

I feel obligated to say something about last week's Firefox Summit, because it was a big event for our community and for me. For me the most important thing was to meet lots of contributors whom I'd never met face to face before, but whom I've worked with for a long time ... you know who you are. Even the people I had met before, I haven't actually spent much time with, so it was good to meet them again.

One thing I noticed was how huge the community is now. It's something you don't really grasp when you're just working through bugzilla and IRC. A lot of that is due to hiring by the Mozilla Corporation, but we also continue to acquire good old-fashioned volunteer contributors, and also the ecosystem around Firefox and Gecko is growing, supporting other applications and other companies. It's really exciting.

I ran sessions on Text and Typography and Offline Web Applications. The former basically was my summary of the status of the new text code, to bring people up to speed. Some issues were raised that I'll have to look into, like MathML's need to specify glyph indices directly in a string. Simon Montagu asked some difficult questions about ligatures that stack vertically instead of horizontally and how we can support those. We just don't know; someone needs to find an Arabic text editor that supports vertical ligatures and tell us how it works. Another fun problem that was raised: how should selection be rendered when you select part of a string in a font like Zapfino? The "advance width + ascent + descent" rectangle actually doesn't cover much of the characters selected...

The offline applications session had more discussion. I think we've converged on a plan and now we just need someone to implement it! The guts are in the wiki page; we need a way for pages to specify which components should made available offline, and then download and cache those offline pages as the user indicates, probably just by bookmarking the site.

Overall I had a great time. The scavenger hunt was a little boring --- I guess downtown San Jose isn't the best venue. But the other events were fantastic. Hats off to the Mozilla organization for running it and funding it.


Christopher Jaquez
I thought of this on the last typography entry you made: is it not possible to determine the width of indiviual character in a sub-string?
If so the relative width of the pre-ligatured glyphs could be used instead of N vertical strips, making the previous examples more accurate as well as helping with Zapfino.
Just a thought, let me know why it wouldn't work (since I'm sure you've already thought of it).