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Update: Apple Launches Browser Based on KHTML Engine

Jan 07, 2003, 19:00 (70 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Brian Proffitt)

Continuing his penchant for making major company announcements during his Macworld keynote addresses, Apple CEO Steve Jobs has announced the immediate beta release of Safari, an OS X browser that is based on the KDE Project's KHTML code.

KHTML is the same HTML parser/renderer used in the popular Linux browser Konqueror.

Calling it the first major new browser release in the last five years, Jobs introduced Safari as a "turbo browser for OS X." The rationale behind the release was to improve the speed of browser clients that are currently made for the OS X platform, Jobs said.

During the presentation made at Macworld Expo earlier this morning, Jobs compared page download times and showed that Safari's download times were markedly faster, according to Apple's iBench benchmark tests.

"It's three times faster than Internet Explorer on the Mac," he said. Jobs also indicated that JavaScript launch times were faster.

Jobs emphasized that Safari is based on standards, coming from an open-source HTML rendering engine that he identified as KHTML.

Anticipating negative reactions to using open source, Jobs stated: "Some people have a problem with open source, we think it's great."

Internet Explorer for the Mac has been the default Web browser on new Macs since 1997, as part of a five-year technology agreement between Microsoft and Apple--an agreement that expired last year.

As of this afternoon, a new Safari page has been posted on the Apple Web site which gives more details on the product and its performance.

During his keynote, Jobs said that the company would release all of the modifications Apple made to KHTML later today. This is confirmed by a statement on the Safari Web page:

"For its Web page rendering engine, Safari draws on software from the Konqueror open source project. Weighing in at less than one tenth the size of another open source renderer, Konqueror helps Safari stay lean and responsive. And of course, being a good open source citizen, Apple shares its enhancements with the Konqueror open source community."

The components in Safari that are being open sourced are known as WebCore and JavaScriptCore.

WebCore, according the Apple's Web site, "takes the cross-platform KHTML library (part of the KDE project) and combines it with an adapter library specific to WebCore called KWQ that makes it work with Mac OS X technologies. KHTML is written in C++ and KWQ is written in Objective C++, but WebCore presents an Objective C programming interface."

According to Apple, the current version of WebCore is based on the KHTML library from KDE 3.0.2.

Also being released is the JavaScriptCore, which "takes the cross-platform KJS library [also from KDE 3.0.2], combines it with the PCRE regular expression library, and makes it work with Mac OS X technologies," a statement on the Web site reads.

Both of these components are being released under the Apple Public Source License. The source code for each of these components will be released on January 7 at 5:30 PM PST (0130 GMT).

The public beta for the browser, which will run on Mac OS X 10.2 (Jaguar), is available for download now on the Safari page.