Today’s Light Reading: WebKit BugTrack Entries!

For reasons too obscure to get into, my genius friend Michael Herf pointed me at this bug for Chrome WebKit. I suggest everybody read it; it’s like a mini-course in browser internals.

Now that a significant weight of browser code is open-source, I think it’s important for serious web developers to spend some time reading the bug tracking entries for the browsers they support. This isn’t so we can moan and beat our chests about the sorry state of open source browsers (’cause Gecko and WebKit, I luvs you guys), but so we can develop an intuition about what’s going on at the “next level down” from our HTML5/CSS/Javascript magnificence.

This is a pattern I see repeatedly in software: the best work in high level environments can be done only with understanding of the levels below. When I was working in Smalltalk, the company I worked for hired away the developers responsible for the garbage collector and compiler of the virtual machine we were using. I was productive as a junior developer, sure, but sometimes the Killer Bugs ended up with this guy and gal staring at a screenful of hex and walking through the VM stack frames manually.

Joel really nailed this one eight years ago: Leaky Abstractions.

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