Version 6 (modified by, 14 years ago) (diff)

Add an API rationale

Hacker's guide to WebKit/GTK+

Code layout

The GTK+ port targets the cross-platform GLib and GTK+ APIs as well as related libraries. This means that it can be built against any of the windowing systems supported by GTK+ and Cairo without modification -- those tested so far are X11 and DirectFB. Windows should work too.

Code specific to any one backend should be conditionally compiled only when that windowing system is available. One examples of this kind of feature might be direct X11/Win32 use for plugin support. This can be done at configure time or with a switch passed to the build system, or even just using the definitions provided by the gdk headers.

The main components of the port:

Gtk+-specific modules

  • Public API: WebKit/gtk
    • Api -- The actual public GObject API and header files.
    • WebCoreSupport -- These are conceptually partial classes for the implementations in "Api". The two might merge at some point.

There may be other gtk-port related directories which have yet to be listed here.

Shared code modules

While the Gtk+ port is the primary consumer of these backends, we aim to keep them portable, avoiding even ifdef'd sections specific to the Gtk+ port:

Working on WebCore

  • The GTK+ elements of WebCore follow the WebKit coding style.
  • There is no API stability in this layer. If an abstraction does not fit GTK+/Cairo/GStreamer/CURL concepts, feel free to seek advice on how to generalise the abstraction layer. This should not be necessary too often though.
  • Documentation is generally avoided in favour of clear, self-explanatory code and good variable names.

Working on the public API

  • Document new additions with GtkDoc. It is OK to base GTK+ API documentation on the Objective-C documentation, but remember that "the receiver" will be "@this" or similar in GTK+ terminology, and a "method" translates to a "function" etc.
  • If you find mistakes in the Objective-C API documentation, take notes and add them in the comments of your bug report.
  • Check function parameters with g_return_if_fail() and g_return_val_if_fail()
  • Never use the abbreviation "URL" or "url" in any public API headers or documentation. Instead, use "URI" or "uri". This is a strong convention in GLib/GTK+ which deviates from the one used in WebCore and other WebKit ports.
    • Recommendation: Internally, relevant gchar* variables to be passed to or from the user should also be named "uri" until parsed into a KURL or WebCore data structure, at which point they should be called "url".
  • Try to cover implement several functions at the same time to get a better understanding of how they work together and to improve consistency. This is more effective than just implementing functions and signals one by one as needed.
  • Avoid drawing inspiration from ports other than Mac and Win, since they might have decided to follow their own interpretation. This is like going for the primary sources in a research project.
  • If a method looks strange or out of place, ask awkward questions until someone explains why it is the way it is. The Mac port may contain deprecated/bad API that exists only for the sake of compatibility -- we want to learn form those mistakes rather than copying them.

API rationale

The strategy here is to develop a GObject-based interpretation of the Objective-C API combined with experience working with GtkTextView, GtkHtml and gtkmozembed. This allows us to benefit from the maturity of a widely-deployed API, but demands extra caution not to adopt any of the baggage or legacy that might be present for backward compatibility only. The Win port is also a useful resource but is less suitable for direct inspiration since it hasn't been deployed as a stable API yet and has a large API footprint that would be difficult to support in the long term.


This will likely soon be renamed to WebKitWebView ( matching GtkTextView, GtkTreeView etc. on the GTK+ side and WebView in the Mac and Win ports of WebKit.


Currently very similar to WebFrame, this is a headless representation of a browser frame, rather than a GtkWidget like WebKitPage.


Very limited right now but this can be considered the beginning of a public API to access the underlying HTTP stack.


The future of WebKitWebSettings is uncertain. We might not want to do settings like this at all.

The build bots

There is a build bot available for most ports including GTK+. The waterfall view is particularly useful.

This helps keep all the ports buildable. There is also compile output provided which is helpful for understanding the build environments and compiler flags used by other ports and tracking down compiler warnings.


See the hacker's guide to optimizing WebKit/GTK+?.