GSoC 2020 with Epiphany

Fast-forwarding almost an entire school year since my last post, I am very happy to be writing this next one now as I’m participating again in Google Summer of Code πŸ™‚

A student is allowed to participate in GSoC only twice in a lifetime. I’m thinking they chose this rule as an “only once in a lifetime” type of rule would have sounded too dramatic.

Humor aside, I have actually learned from a colleague over at university that Google implemented this rule because veteran students would keep returning every year taking most of the slots and thus leaving very little room for newcomers to make an entrance. Considering I’m a returning student myself, I can imagine that at the time I could have very easily been part of the problem πŸ™‚

This year I will be working on Epiphany, also known as GNOME Web (or simply just Web), which is a GNOME-flavored browser.

Firstly, I’ll take a few sentences to congratulate the GNOME community on two fronts:

  1. The icons used in their applications are very nice πŸ™‚ I’m no artist but one can imagine drawing them is no trivial feat so here’s a thanks to everyone who spent time on drawing these lovely pictures.
  2. The internal names used for applications are very interesting. I have heard about Epiphany on Matrix and I had no idea it’s a browser but the name sounded quite intriguing and made me curiously wonder “what could an app named like that be ?” πŸ™‚

A few technical details

My last year’s GSoC project was focused on one large feature inside GNOME Games. In contrast to that, this year’s project consists of several smaller enhancements inside some of Epiphany’s components.

Specifically, I’ll be hacking inside the Preferences dialog, the History dialog and the Bookmarks popover.

I’ll also be working with a different programming language, as Games is written in Vala, whereas Epiphany is written in C. Working with C is definitely a bit more difficult than working with Vala. Thankfully, Builder’s code indexing combined with GNOME’s rich documentation does make it a learning experience rather than an impossible challenge.

Epiphany uses an external library called WebKit to actually render the web pages (this would be considered the heavy lifting core of any browser). The Epiphany project itself is responsible for all the other features of a browser, such as providing an interface for having multiple tabs, managing bookmarks, history, changing various settings and the list goes on.

Lastly, I’ll use this paragraph to send a thanks message to this year’s project mentors Michael Catanzaro and Jan-Michael Brummer for their guidance and help πŸ™‚

Thanks for reading ! Have a great day and stay safe ! πŸ™‚

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