Stamping out a completely new web browser today – the launch of Ladybird was greeted with great enthusiasm, but also aroused many skeptics. Developer Andreas Kling now explains why the undertaking is not an impossibility.
The old web was poorly specified
Probably his most surprising argument: Today, despite the prophecies of doom, it is much easier to develop a new web browser than it was a few years ago. The reason is the vastly improved web specifications, which since the days of HTML4 and CSS2.1 have become significantly easier and less guesswork to implement. While the specs aren’t perfect, the W3C is actively working on them – and the Ladybird developers’ work on an independent browser will also ensure that they’re actually complete.
Furthermore, the project would focus on vertical parts. What does that mean specifically? The developers do not want to implement individual web specifications in isolation, but rather to achieve overarching goals. This can, for example, be the correct loading of a Twitter account or a login page on Discord. Different weaving techniques interlock here and it is also more motivating to see concrete progress. On the other hand, anyone who works with abstract specifications would quickly lose interest.
The performance of Ladybird plays little or no role at first: Correct and compatible implementations have priority, while the project does not track benchmark results and comparable metrics. The most important bottlenecks are only eliminated if the speed is too slow to hinder work. Nevertheless, Andreas Kling emphasizes that the new browser should also shine in terms of performance – but only ultimately, optimizations ultimately have no priority.
Enthusiasm in the team, experience from Kling himself
There is also the human factor, because on the one hand the Ladybird project has a highly optimistic developer culture with a can-do attitude. The participants are spread all over the world, but would coordinate and motivate each other on Discord; Programmers would work together or help each other out all the time. Furthermore, everyone can explicitly pursue their personal interests in Ladybird – anyone who has never worked with browser code would quickly become one of the world’s best developers in this area. After all, the team is not dependent on third parties, all code is written internally and is therefore transparent for everyone involved.
In addition, Ladybird has an experienced manager in Andreas Kling itself. In fact, he is not only the main developer of the closely related Unix-like operating system SerenityOS, but is also familiar with web browsers that are already in productive use thanks to his work at Apple and Nokia. As he explains in his blog post, he personally tends to lend a hand in the poorly specified areas – dealing with them is much more difficult for the other less experienced members of the team.