Firefox Metro development heating up, 2nd status update
News and other things I find interesting
Last modified: Sunday, March 18, 2012
This post is a continuation of the Windows 8 status update first started on this blog post.
We're now past the hardly documented parts of development we were fighting with last week, and things are really starting to heat up. From here, most WinRT development topics should be nicely documented because they are now similar to any work done in a C++ Metro application.
We're keeping organized via an etherpad similar to how the snappy project stays connected. Please ping someone on #windev on IRC if you'd like the URL.
Languages we'll be programming in
We're moving ahead with C++/CX and dropping down into WRL when needed. It is still possible that we will one day port the C++/CX parts to only WRL.
In the end though, with C++/CX you get native code, code that is 10x less the size, and code that is less prone to leaks. Less code means less to maintain and faster innovation. C++/CX is also documented and supported a lot better than WRL.
We have a XAML window and we use DirectX to paint to it taking up the entire area of the screen.
This week Jim Mathies was a rock star and made significant progress in many areas:
- He added in the build config needed to build Fennec or Firefox as a Metro application.
- He started work on a new widget layer.
- He also got events working. Getting events working was hard because the UI thread is not the main thread.
This week I spent some of my time finishing an old project and the rest on Windows 8 work:
- I hooked up the WinRT window to our graphics code (WinRT to Thebes).
Metro does not give us easy and reliable access to an
HWNDand instead has a
CoreWindow, so extra new code was needed inside the graphics module. In particular I added most of this new code in
gfx/cairo. We don't have support for the Azure back end yet. The new code added in the graphics modules does not use C++/CX.
- I also implemented support for Metro snap in regards to our rendering code. This means you can have a metro application beside our browser when in Metro mode.
Firefox on Metro will not simply be Firefox desktop copied into the Metro environment, we are embracing the framework instead of fighting it.
How to get the development environment setup yourself
The code for this project is happening in the elm branch, you can see the changelog and checkout the project using hg here. The metro subfolder contains our research but most of the new code is going in
We're currently compiling and working with a fennec mozconfig setup with the following options added:
ac_add_options --enable-win8metro ac_add_options --with-windows-version=602
--enable-win8metro adds in the
-ZW flag in the
widget/windows/winrt module only, which makes it so C++/CX code is allowed.
This LIBPATH environment variable must also exist.
Stephen Horlander started work on the Metro splashscreen and tile. You can see some experimentation on the tile and splashscreen here.
I added these resources into the elm repository, it's definitely more exciting to develop when you click on a meaningful tile and see a cool splashscreen.
Several developers have expressed interest in helping the project including Tim Abraldes, Wes Johnston, David Woolbright, Burak Yigit Kaya, and Berker Peksag. I'm excited to have more hands on the project in the coming weeks.
Next development steps
Now that we have event handling and thebes hooked up, we should be pretty close to getting something resembling a browser. We're still very early in development but we're making great progress.
We didn't have a meeting this week because we were actively keeping each other up to date on #windev on IRC.
I'll be away next week so probably won't write another update for a couple weeks. Feel free to email me if you'd like to get involved.