I've been on a fairly long hiatus from this blog. However class, contracting and starting a business have left me without much extra time. That being said, there have been a lot of different things kicking around in my head. This one has for awhile:
There is a lot of talk about the KDE web browser, but there seem to be a lot of issues which surround it which never really progress much. So I want to tackle things from a different perspective, that of a web developer. There are a unique set of concerns that come with this and they tell an interesting story.
Unless konqueror and by extension KHTML and KJS recieve significant market penetration it is hard to justify to web developers the value they will get out of ensuring correct behavior for this platform and that's a big concern because that has implications for adoption of KDE as technology and as a platform.
Unless a substantial amount of development talent is brought on to help with KHTML I see it continually playing catch up, simply trying to implement technology seen in other platforms and not really innovating. This is a big concern, especially because I do not see how this could cause more people to use KDE.
The numbers tell the same sad story.
Unforunately, I think problems like these are really reflected in users. For instance, on dot.kde.org you get the following picture. There are almost more users visiting dot.kde.org with firefox on windows than with konqueror on linux. Had this been a couple of weeks ago there would have actually been more.
But that is with a KDE site. How are the numbers borne out elsewhere? I formerly worked at the Minnesota Daily, the largest student newspaper in the United States. What do things look like there?
Not surprisingly, konqueror does not even show up and Linux makes a poorer showing than Safari on Apple's iPod. Things are indeed somewhat grim.
A Matter of Goals
There are a lot of issues surrounding this and I think a lot stem from a lack of goals. What is KDE for? How does software within the KDE ecosystem fit into that vision?
I think it's foolish for KDE to maintain a browser engine. Browser engines are complex beasts and it takes a significant amount of effort to maintain a high quality, standards compliant browser engine. Further, it prevents the creation of valuable and useful technology which attract people to KDE as a platform.
Beyond that, I think it's very important that KDE finds a way to start innovating with web technologies. I'm not sure how to do this, but I think the role of KHTML and Konqueror really need to be thought out. Where do they fit into KDE and what are they trying to accomplish?
Some food for thought
I'm not trying to whine. I think there are important questions that surround Konqueor and KHTML and that there needs to be some thoughtful dialog. What are they for? Are they fufilling the task? I'd like to hear all your thoughts.