NetSurf gains experimental Javascript support

 I blinked and I missed it.

Isn’t it just typical that something particularly notable would happen during the period in which I was less able to devote any time to RISCOSitory?

That something was Javascript support coming to RISC OS NetSurf, in the form of test/experimental builds, which was announced in mid-December on the NetSurf users mailing list by Vincent Sanders, who said:

Thanks to Rob Kendrik, Chris Gransden and myself we now have NSPR and Spidermonkey libraries building in the NetSurf toolchain. The CI system has built the toolchain successfully and a copy of NetSurf for RISC OS with Javascript enabled.

I would be grateful if any interested users could test this build.

The javascript support is still very limited and the performance is unlikely to be awe inspiring, please do not expect a great experience. I still have a lot of interfaces remaining to implement and we are a small development team lacking an active RISC OS maintainer.

Please Note

All the usual caveats of using a CI build apply, additionally, this is the first successful experimental build with these libraries. I have been personally unable to test on RISC OS. It might fail in all sorts of interesting (Chinese proverb style) ways and I cannot offer support if it does.

Spidermonkey is a Javascript engine that was originally written by Brendan Eich at Netscape Communications, and is now maintained by the Mozilla Organisation, itself created by Netscape shortly before they were acquired by AOL in 1999 to continue development of its browser, which they made open source around the same time. The engine is used by Mozilla in a number of products, with Firefox perhaps being the most obvious.

NSPR is the Netscape Portable Runtime, and “provides platform independence for non-GUI operating system facilities” – including threads, thread synchronization, normal file and network I/O, interval timing and calendar time, basic memory management (malloc and free) and shared library linking.

Given the heritage of Spidermonkey and NSPR, and the software in which they are used on other platforms, they could ultimately lead to the already excellent NetSurf becoming a very capable browser – although it’s still very early days at the moment, which is why we are warned by Vincent that the support in the browser “is still very limited and the performance is unlikely to be awe inspiring.”

The test builds of RISC OS NetSurf come in two flavours – those with and those without Javascript support enabled, which can be identified with “json” and “jsoff”, respectively, in the names of the files to download.

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