HP releases Open webOS' new browser Isis, JavaScript core, and Enyo UI widgets | webOS Nation

HP releases Open webOS' new browser Isis, JavaScript core, and Enyo UI widgets

by Derek Kessler Tue, 14 Feb 2012 9:01 am EST


Today HP is delivering on the roadmap they laid out last month and releasing all at once their February commitment. On the docket are the UI widgets needed for Enyo 2.0 app development, how webOS will integrate JavaScript core, and the new QtWebKit-derived Isis web browser.

JavaScript core isn't exactly something we can illustrate (though we were previously told to expect a significant performance boost as a result of trading it in place of the current V8 JavaScript implementation). The UI widgets for Enyo 2.0 are also up for a release, following last month's release of the Enyo 2.0 source code. update: Turns out HP jumped the gun in saying the Enyo 2.0 UI widgets were getting released today. They'll be coming later this month.

What's interesting is the new implementation of WebKit taken by the webOS team. Under the lead of former Nokia Meego VP Ari Jaaksi, HP has adopted QtWebKit (developed and open sourced by Nokia) as the new engine behind webOS. Seeing as webOS is based around web technologies, this change will affect the entire OS. It is said to "offer unrivaled speed and standards compliance" for both the browser and Enyo apps, which is a change from the partial standards implementation we've had to deal with for the past few years of webOS.

QtWebKit will back up the new webOS browser, which just so happens to be named Isis. Yes, another Greek gods reference, this time to "the ideal mother" and matron on nature and magic. HP's internal benchmarks have found Isis to be "extremely responsive" in comparison to other popular browsers, with extensive support for HTML5 and CSS3. Said HP: "Standards-compliance is important to developers because they can use technologies like Enyo to develop cross-platform web applications that already work well on webOS." We couldn't agree more.

In a surprising move, given the industry move away from such things, Isis will also provide "enhanced support" for "legacy products" such as Adobe Flash and other plug-ins, even though this won't be an X11 environment. We're glad in a way to see Flash support provided, but still uncertain about the future of mobile Flash given Adobe's abandonment of the project. And also hoping the industry can just decide to move on to newer and better things.

HP's delivering on their commitments for the Open webOS roadmap, and just so happens to do so on Valentine's Day. Are we in love? Not sure yet, but you might be able to describe us as slightly smitten today.

Press release after the break.

February Releases for Open webOS

Today I am proud to announce delivery of our February Open webOS commitments: extensions to QtWebKit, the release of Isis (our web browser), our integration with JavaScript core, UI Enyo widgets, and our governance model.

The web increasingly provides the best option for cross-platform development. It continues to be rapidly adopted and improved upon by a wide variety of platforms. Developers look to standards-based web development as a way of deploying across the mobile landscape, maximizing the potential market. We're seeing proof of that with the adoption of Enyo, which has been downloaded 40,000 times in only three weeks. With today's release, webOS remains at the forefront of this emerging standard.

With the power of the components released today, a developer can create an immersive user environment that can be built on any web platform. This is another step in fulfilling the promise of Open webOS.

Isis (webOS Browser) and QtWebKit

To stay at the forefront, webOS required a fast, standards-compliant web browser engine to provide the core of both the standalone browser and the rendering technology for the platform and its apps. For this reason, we chose QtWebKit to power the next generation experience for webOS. QtWebKit offers unrivaled speed and standards compliance while providing a powerful and fast platform for Enyo and apps. WebKit is also the point of integration between the underlying System Manager, which will be open sourced later this year, and the web rendering layer of webOS.

QtWebKit (a.k.a. "Cute" WebKit) was originally open sourced by Nokia. We have been in the process of moving webOS to this port of WebKit for some time, with a goal of increasing web site compatibility and overall performance. Today we are ready to release the first part of this effort to the open source community—the Isis web browser.

We've benchmarked the new Isis webOS browser and have found it to be extremely responsive compared to other browsers made for general consumption. It has a fast render pipeline and JavaScript execution profile, which is critical to Enyo and other web technologies. It is extensively supportive of HTML5 and CSS3. Standards-compliance is important to developers because they can use technologies like Enyo to develop cross-platform web applications that already work well on webOS.

We are also providing enhanced support for legacy products like Adobe Flash and other Netscape Plug-in API (NPAPI) plugins to allow them to run in non-X11 environments. In combination with the rest of webOS, we will be providing a complete browsing experience that can be deployed on mobile devices and other form factors.

Stay tuned for future webcasts, videos, and technical documentation on these developments. We have a number of exciting things planned as we continue the march to Open webOS.

Project information and the technical documentation for this release will be made available on GitHub and the project site, www.isis-project.org, by Leonid Zolotarev.

You can find this month’s updates to Enyo here and the JavaScript core here.