Tagged: seneca

WEBVTT: Initial Support Incoming

I have some great news. Bug 833382 and 833386, the last pieces needed to get initial support for WEBVTT into Gecko will be landing for sure next week. That being said, I hope I don’t have to eat my words. It’s looking really good though. Bug 833382 has gotten to the point where Boris (:bz) has conditionally r+’ed it and 833386 has reached the same point with Ralph (:rillian). Now all that’s left to do for 833382 is to spin up some try builds and if it’s all green, hopefully we’ll be good to go. 833386 still needs to go through review with Chris Pearce (:cpearce), but I don’t think that will take that long.

I’ve been pushing really hard on landing these two this last week and I’m ecstatic to see that we’ve gotten to the point where we will be landing them in the next few days. The WebVTTLoadListener in particular I’m very happy about as most of that code is mine and I’ve worked really hard at it. It’ll feel good to land that. In the case of 833386 most of that code is Jordan Raffoul’s (:jbraffoul) and Marcus Nsaad’s (:msaad) and the work I did on it was just to consolidate it and get it through the last couple rounds of review. Marcus had been on vacation for a while and we really wanted to get this landed ASAP as it is blocking quite a few things so I asked Marcus if I could step in and he didn’t have a problem with it (Yay Marcus!).

Tests, Tests

One of the biggest problems I was having with the tests for the HTMLTrackElement and TextTrack* DOM classes (833386) was that we wanted to test everything with the pref set to true and also with it set to false. The thinking here was that we could do it in the same file. The problem was that it wasn’t working… and we all thought that it should be possible to do so I spent about 2~3 days trying to get it to work. At first I suspected that it was due to closures in Javascript and that the ‘state’ or variables were being sustained somehow by this. There was no way to get out of being entangled in closures too as we need to use a particular function, SpecialPowers.pushPrefEnv, that takes a function argument and async calls it after the pref is set. So in order for us to test with true and then false we have to have one pushPrefEnv(true) and one pushPrefEnv(false) with the second embedded in the first so that they are called one after the other and in that way we have a definitive point where we can call SimpleTest.finish().

I finally figured out, when asking the right people (bz and Ms2ger, who woulda’ thunk?), that it’s actually impossible to test with two different prefs in one page as there is one prototype for each element on the page and the pref is only applied to it once, when the element is created for the first time. So once you’ve created an element underneath one pref on a page, that’s it, it will behave like it is preffed that way no matter what you do. After that it was pretty quick to get through the rest of the code needed. One of the really good things about this process too is that it allowed me to find a lot of points where our current implementation is not to spec. I’ve filed a few bugs on those this week. I’ve also closed a few bugs that have been fixed with changes in the last while. I also spun off another bug for tests that we will need to implement when the WEBVTT pref finally gets removed.

Try Server Access

The other really awesome news is that I’ve finally got try server access! Earlier this week Daniel Holbert (:dholbert) suggessted that I should apply for it and that he would vouch for me. I probably should have applied for it sooner then this as I could have used it for sure. The process was fairly easy and I’m glad to say I now have Level 1 commit access. Woot! If your interested in applying as well check out this page that describes what you will need to do.

In accordance with this new awesomeness I also had to learn about the process of pushing to the try server. Check out this good page for more information on how to do that. You’ll also probably want to look at Mercurial Manage Queue extension as it helps with managing a bunch of patches that you can move in and out of your branches easily. This really works well with my workflow of working on git and then just applying patches on my hg repository and pushing to the try server.

Until next time.

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CSS Parsing: Writing-mode

One of the things I’ve been working on since I got back from Taipei has been helping with the implementation of vertical-text in Gecko which WEBVTT needs to support. The small way in which I helped out was to implement the “writing-mode” property in the style system. Basically this is just getting the Gecko CSS parser/scanner to understand the new property and be able to process it correctly. This was fairly easy to implement due to Daniel Holbert (:dholbert) giving me an awesome walkthrough of the things that would need to change in order for this to work and also an example bug where he did a similar thing. So after half a day doing the initial code and a few rounds of review it landed in the tree and we’re now one step closer to vertical text!

If you’d like to learn more about how the style system works you can head over to the style section of the Gecko overview page which also has a lot of really good information on how Gecko works in general. I won’t duplicate information here, but I will talk about a couple of the things I found interesting in the style system.

  • CSS property values are stored in a computed form and there are translation mechanisms to go back and forth between the two.
  • The computed values of CSS properties live in structs, namely nsStyleStructs, and CSS properties that tend to be set together live in the same struct. For example — when a user sets the font-family property they are likely to also set the font-size, font-weight, etc, so storing the computed values of these properties together makes sense.
  • Single instances of nsStyleStructs, i.e. one set of related properties, are shared across many different DOM nodes as DOM nodes are more likely to share one set of CSS properties then they are to have different sets of properties. For example, the vast majority of times that a page sets font properties the entire page will share these properties. This cuts down on memory usage. These structs are immutable and when the same CSS property needs to be set differently on another set of DOM nodes a new struct will be created for the new set of properties.
  • Each nsStyleStruct has a CalcDifference() function that gives hints to Gecko about when it needs to update the rendering of the page based on the CSS properties changing, i.e. if it needs to reconstruct the frame or the text needs to be reflowed, etc.

In the future I’m hoping to help with more layout things. Hopefully, I can do the same kind of bug for the “text-orientation” CSS property, which is also needed for vertical text. I haven’t started as of yet as it’s still kind of up in the air in the spec. Right now I’ve also started work on another easy bug to reorganize the reftests in layout/reftest/form. Hopefully, I can get that done sometime next week. We’ll need reftests for WEBVTT as well so this will be a good bug where I can learn about them.

Web Rendering Week — Recap

So I’m back home now. The flight home was a bit shorter, about two hours, thankfully. Interestingly enough I feel more jet lagged now that I’m home then I was in Taiwan. I’ve heard that going east is worse then going west, so that might be the case for me right now. The rest of the rendering week, after I blogged last Tuesday, was just as awesome as the first part.

How Gecko Does X

I got to sit in on a lot more talks about “How Gecko does X” — like how the graphics engine works, how the layout system works, and my favourite in particular, how cycle collection works. Kyle Huey did an excellent job explaining how the Gecko cycle collector works. He gave us this paper as forward reading about it (it’s a little dense, but definitely worth reading). I’ll try to do a blog post in the future on what I learned/will learn about it.

David Baron and Adam Roach also gave an awesome talk on how the W3C and IETF work. WEBVTT is my first major exposure to open specifications that I’ve had and so I’ve been interested in all the hows/whats/whys of open specifications and the politics behind them.

Initial WEBVTT Support

It wasn’t all fun and games over in Taiwan though. We were also doing a lot of work. We finally got bug 833385 landed near to the end of the week. This means that we have support for all the new DOM elements that WEBVTT introduces such as: HTMLTrackElement, TextTrack, TextTrackList, TextTrackCue, and TextTrackCueList. We ran into a random inexplicable bug when we were doing full tries on the code, just before landing it. Ralph and I went to work debugging it (had to use an ASAN build) and we ended up discovering that it happened in a very rare situation where the cycle collector nulls out the HTMLMediaElement’s TextTrackList member while the HTMLMediaElement is still alive. This results in a situation where HTMLMediaElement::FireTimeUpdate() is called just before it is about to be deleted and since we weren’t doing null checks on the call to TextTrackList::Update() we would crash. After we got that fixed we were all green.

That leaves just bug 833382 left before we get initial support for WEBVTT. It was going well last week and we got an r+ from Chris Pearce. Now we just need an r+ from Boris and we should be good to go. It might take a few more rounds of review before that happens, but I’m optimistic we will be able to get this landed within a week or so.

One of the major problems I was having in Taiwan was trying to get a clean diff for 833382. The problem centered around the fact that up until now, mainly in my previous open-source class, we decided to use a git branch as a main point of ‘integration’. We’ve all been working off this branch for a while. The history of this branch has been so ridiculous and the code necessary for 833382 depends on so many other parts of the code that have been touched by, well everyone, that it was pretty much impossible for me to do a clean diff or even get a good rebase. To rebase this beast I would have had to go through 150+ commits, each having merge conflicts… So I ended up just making a clean branch off master and manually moving all the code that I needed over to the new branch and doing a diff like that. I’ll probably be staying away from these kinds of ‘integration’ branches in the future in order to ensure that my repo history can be more linear. Easier to get diffs that way.

The other thing I’ve been dealing with in the last few days is some code we landed back in February that was spotted to not be up to par by Boris. The issue is with some of the CSS selectors that we are using to style WEBVTT text — namely, we are using slow CSS selectors which is bad. This is the first that I’ve heard about some CSS selectors being slower than others, although that’s not suprising as I’m not super-super knowledgeable about CSS. Mozilla even has a page devoted to this that you can check out here. Ralph and I put together a patch yesterday to deal with this which will land today most likely. I’ll have to update 833382 to reflect those changes today as well.

CSS Parser Hacking

I also sat in on the vertical-text layout meeting as it is of particular interest to WEBVTT. WEBVTT requires the ability to have vertical-text and so far in Gecko we don’t have this. Apparently vertical-text has been kind of a thorn in the side of the layout team for a long time as it’s been particularly hard to implement. However, there is a major push now to get it done, so that’s great. In accordance with this Daniel Holbert asked me if I wanted to do some stuff for vertical-text in the CSS parser, I accepted and got my first layout bug! So I’ll be hacking around in the CSS parser and layout section of Gecko more in the future, hopefully.

WebMaker

Dave also told me the other day that he’s figured out an area of WebMaker that I can start contributing to, so I’m excited about that. I’ll be starting in about two weeks on this. I’ll most likely be splitting my time like 70/30 or something like that for WEBVTT and WebMaker. We talked briefly about it and so my understanding isn’t 100%, but what I got from our talk is that I will be implementing a kind of wrapper around an HTML5 video element that will allow Popcorn Maker to be able to work with it. From my understanding Popcorn Maker works with many different video formats/sources and so it needs a uniform interface to work with all these different videos. That’s where the wrapper comes in. It allows Popcorn Maker to work with many different video formats and sources without worrying about the particulars. However, all this might be completely wrong  as I might have misunderstood some things from our brief conversation… So don’t take my word for it! At any rate I’ll do another blog post about it when I get more information.

Until next time.

Mozilla Taiwan — Web Rendering Week

After a ridiculously long flight, 24 hours in total including airport time, we finally arrived in Taiwan, met up with Daniel (IRC:dholbert) and Seth (IRC:seth) and were on our way to the hotel in a cab. The plane ride was pretty good. Uneventful… just super long.

Taipei 101 building.

Taipei 101 building

It’s now Wednesday and it’s been an awesome and eventful week. I’ve been meeting tons of Mozilla devs and learning a lot. We’ve also been working hard on landing that initial support for WEBVTT I was talking about in my last blog post.

Sunday I was kind of jet lagged so I took a quick power nap and woke up for dinner which we ate at the Tapei 101 building (formerly the tallest building in the world). Dinner was like 15 courses? Pretty full after that.

After sleeping Sunday night I was pretty much jet lag free… I was kind of surprised as I’ve heard it’s really hard to deal with for some people. My first experience with it was kind of a non-issue. It’s probably because I’m used to sleeping late anyways… so really I just corrected my schedule to what’s normal for most people.

This week is pretty much a week where all the Web Rendering people can get together and work and talk face to face. There’s been a lot of meetings, some of which I’ve sat in on, that are super interesting and informative. Robert (IRC:roc) gave an excellent talk on the working culture at Mozilla which has really reiterated to me again how awesome the Mozilla working culture really is and how different it is from other companies. The talk touched on openness at Mozilla, code review, software quality, and module ownership vs. Mozilla’s managerial structure among many other things.

On the way to the office

On the way to the office

Aside from working on initial WEBVTT support I’ve also been getting reacquainted with the specification as it’s changed a lot since I last looked at it, going over all the bugs that we currently have for WEBVTT in order to get some kind of an idea of what we need to do next, and engaging in a lot of discussions about what we think the WEBVTT spec needs to improve on or change. This is great as when I get back to Toronto I’ll have a better plan of what needs to be done and how we are going to do it.

I’m also learning a ton about different areas Gecko that I didn’t know about before just by listening to and talking to others. Overall I’d say I’ve learnt way more then I could ever hope to do in the same amount of time sitting on IRC chatting with people.

One other thing I’m looking forward to is a talk on the cycle collector that Kyle (khuey) is going to be giving tomorrow. The more I try to work with and use cycle collection the more I want to understand it. Hopefully I can walk away from the talk with a better understanding of how it works.

Here are some assorted pictures of the Mozilla Taiwan office. It’s pretty brand spanking new. The office space they have us working in was actually just finished before we got here and they had to push the contractors to get it done early. It’s right across from the Bloomberg office here in Taipei as well as some other cool places. It’s literally 30 seconds from Taipei 101, so it’s right in the downtown core of the city.

Stinks that I won’t have enough time to check out many other places in Taipei as work is taking up most of my time. Taiwan isn’t the place I thought I would visit first when traveling to Asia, or even a place I would visit, but it’s definitely on my list of places to come back to.

Front sign and entrance

Front sign and entrance

Space for gathering and presntations.

Space for gathering and presntations.

Work Space

Work space that Mozilla Taiwan put aside for us.

Front desk.

Front desk.

View outside the office

View outside the office

Getting Ready For Taiwan

A month back I found out that Caitlin and I were being invited to Mozilla’s Web Rendering Week in Taiwan. Needless to say I was shocked. Ralph Giles, who has been working with us closely on WEBVTT and was/is our main contact with Mozilla for WEBVTT, kindly invited us out — thanks Ralph!!

Therefore, a lot of this week has been spent getting ready for the trip — getting ready to travel and trying to push on some final bugs to get initial support for WEBVTT into Nightly before we leave.

Getting that initial support entailed a few things, all of which haven’t happened yet… Don’t worry though! If we don’t get it finished before Taiwan we will definitely get it finished while we’re in Taiwan. We need(ed) too:

  • Get the WEBVTT library to a state where we felt comfortable tagging 0.5 and landing it in Gecko.
  • Land the DOM implementation of HTMLTrackElement and the TextTrack objects.
  • Land the parser and Gecko integration bug.

Getting WEBVTT to 0.5 was pretty easy. The only extra thing we wanted to add before 0.5 was support for the new <lang> tag. We needed a new string list pop function for that as well. I implemented that this week, which also exposed a bug that we hadn’t found yet because we didn’t have a proper test for it. The bug happened when we had an <rt> tag that was not enclosed within a <ruby> tag. In these situations the <rt> tag should not be processed. We weren’t handling it correctly and it was crashing the parser. That got landed as well yesterday. We tagged 0.5 and Caitlin is working on the bug to land it in Gecko now. WEBVTT 0.5 contains a lot of good things like sec-critical bug fixes and library usability fixes.

Ralph is very close to landing the DOM implementation. That should be happening within the next few days. The parser integration is getting close as well. I’ve been working on changing the code that converts the C node tree to a DOM tree from a recursive algorithm to an iterative one. It’s been a little tricky as we need to keep track of where we are in the C tree as we iterate over it, as well as where we are in the tree of DOM nodes that we are creating. We also need to keep track of the ‘last branching parent’ so that we’re able to tell when we need to go back up the tree. I have a solution that I put together that will hopefully be able to get an r+. I’ll have it up for review tonight on the bug.

The other major thing I did this week was give a presentation to CDOT about WEBVTT. You can check out the presentation over on my GitHub page. It was recorded so maybe you all can see it at some point when it gets posted! I’ll link at that time.

Until next time.

First Week Back

This week marks the first week of my full time employment at CDOT. I’ll be getting to work on Mozilla projects all year long! Yayyyy.

I was off last week which was really good since it’s been non-stop for me pretty much since the beginning of school last September. The only downside was that when I got back this week it was really slow going. This is the most unproductive I’ve felt in a while — not that I didn’t get anything done this week. It’s just that I got back to work, sat down to get some bugs updated/fixed and write some WEBVTT code, and … I forgot everything. My brain felt sluggish — what is the proper way to malloc a pointer-to-a-pointer in C again? Typical programmer forgetting everything they’ve ever done.

The week kicked off with an orientation day at CDOT which pretty much took all day. This ended around 3:00 pm when we got to set up our physical work stations at our new desks (I’m not in a glass cage anymore where people can point and laugh at the programmer). I get to work on a beastly new Linux box that can build Mozilla-Central from scratch in ~10 minutes and a sleek looking new 15 inch Macbook Pro, so my work output won’t be as constrained by build times now :). Then on Tuesday I set up my build environment; downloading all the necessary packages, dependencies, software-dev tools, and repos. So it was only really until Wednesday when I got to sit down and look at some actual code and bugs. This is when I realized how much I had forgotten about during my break. That was pretty much all of Wednesday gone! 😦 However, I’m happy to say that as of today I’m back in commission and ready to churn out code like no tomorrow.

We also got two new people on the Mozilla team! Ali and Igor welcome to the team :). I’ve been helping them with the few questions they’ve had about things like Git, Bugzilla, IRC, etc. I’m really impressed at how fast they are picking everything up though. They’ve even fixed there very first bugs. Awesome!

The main things that I was able to get done this week was to implement the <lang> tag, a new part of the spec that was snuck in when we weren’t looking. This entailed adding a new stringlist pop function and new tests to go along with it. I also wanted to refactor the code a bit as the <lang> tag introduces some complexities that make the solution kind of a hack at this point. We haven’t fully refactored it and I think we won’t until after we get back from Taiwan as we’d like to focus our attention on getting WEBVTT landed in Nightly so we have something to show for it. We’re almost to that point. Ralph will be hopefully landing bug 833385 on Monday, bug 833382 will follow quickly, and then we need to land WEBVTT 0.5 in Firefox to and we should be good to go. I also addressed most of the review comments on bug 833382. I’ve yet to post a WIP because I still have one more thing left to address. It’s sitting over on integration right now though if you want to check it out. Final thing I worked on code-wise was trying to reproduce a sec-critical bug. I have to run an ASan (Address Sanitizer) build of Firefox for it. I’m still working on that currently and will be back with more updates next week.

Oh yeah. I’m going to Taiwan! Ralph was kind enough to invite Caitlin and I to the Web Rendering Work Week out in Taiwan this year and Mozilla was kind enough to allow us to attend! We’ll be leaving Friday the 17 and coming back Saturday the 26. It’s going to be awesome. I’ll make sure to tweet and blog a lot while I’m out there.

The other really cool things that happened this week was that I was able to get a glimpse into what’s going on with Webmaker at Mozilla as most our team at CDOT is working on it. I might do a little in the future, we will see. We attended an e-meeting and it was awesome to see some of the really cool work that is going on.

Final thing that happened is that Ralph, Caitlin, Marcuss, and I set up a meeting time on Fridays after the Webmaker meeting. We had our first today and it was super beneficial to me. I was feeling slightly lost this week in terms of the WEBVTT project and the meeting really helped me refocus and see what our immediate goals should be.

Until next time.

WEBVTT: Farewell DPS911

Tomorrow is the last day for my open-source class at Seneca. So this will be the last WEBVTT post that I will make for the class, ever. It’s been a long journey since last September and we’ve made huge progress, learnt a ton, burnt out many a time, and had a great time doing it. If you are worried about no more posts on WEBVTT fear not! I’ll still be posting regularly on WEBVTT as I’ve now switched over to working on it and possibly some WebMaker stuff at CDOT for the next year. I’m really looking forward to it.

Now, lets get on with it.


WEBVTT Parser

It’s been pretty exciting around WEBVTT in the last month or so — ever since we did a presentation at Toronto Mozilla we’ve received a lot more interest. It’s a pretty cool and strange feeling to have people interested in what we’re doing. Especially with WEBVTT. It’s not very glamorous, as you can imagine. Myself and a few of my classmates also went to an “Open web open mic” night at Toronto Mozilla where we got to do another presentation and showcase WEBVTT off in a kind of science fair environment. We also got to see lots of great presentations and projects that are being worked on. It really opened my mind to what is going on in Toronto and beyond. Pretty cool stuff.

We recently got all our tests green! At that point we officially tagged a revision of the parser as version 0.4… so lots more work to do. Since then we’ve been adding more refined and atomic unit tests to the test suite. Most of them are testing our internal functions in the library. I’ve been focusing on the cue text tokenize  functions for these. Instead of passing in an entire WEBVTT file, we pass in input that it will be expected to handle and test to make sure it behaves correctly. We’ve also been solving a few of the bugs that have been found via fuzzing WEBVTT, courtesy of cdiehl and rforbes,  in our integration branch. That’s awesome — we’re getting fuzz tested on something that has not even landed in Nightly yet! Caitlin has also started to add the ones we have solved as regression tests.

Other than that not much has happened on the parser lately as we’ve all been crunching through the last assignments and exams of the semester. We’re probably going to be looking where to enhance the library in the next little while. There are some issues up on the repo right now that still need to be taken care of in regards to enhancement. So we’ll probably be tackling those first.

Gecko Integration

The other big thing we’ve been working on still is getting the parser integrated into Gecko. I’ve probably already blogged before about how we have 2 out of the 5 things we need landed in Nightly already. The last three things we need to land to get basic functionality working are the DOM classes, DOM tests, and the “parser management” code.

Moving Code from WebVTTLoadListener

Around the time of the demo it was decided that we should move the code that converts the c parser data structs to DOM classes out of the WebVTTLoadListener and just use the LoadListener for… well, listening. The LoadListener’s job should be to serve as the point of contact between Gecko and the WEBVTT parser. When it receives data it hands it to the parser and when it receives a cue it constructs a TextTrackCue and hands it to Gecko. I recently got around to that here. The TextTrackCue is the place where  the conversion code now lives. We also now lazily load the parsed WEBVTT nodes into HTMLElements when GetCueAsHTML() is called for the first time.

Properly Creating Nodes

We ran into a problem where processing cue text tags like <i>, <u>, <b>, etc, was crashing the browser. This was due to the fact that we weren’t creating the NodeInfo to be passed into the NS_NewHTMLElement() macro properly. We were just passing in HTMLTrackElement’s NodeInfo. This would cause HTMLTrackElement to be deleted when the HTMLElement was removed from the divs child list. The correct way to do this is to get HTMLTrackElement’s NodeInfoManager() and create a new NodeInfo using it.

Removing Children

We were having a bug where we weren’t removing captions from the div properly. Previously we had been looping from zero to max length of the divs children and removing at the current index. Classic for loop. I tried and tried to figure out what was going wrong and after a while I made my way over to #content to get some help. bz and Ms2ger were kind enough to help me. What I learnt from them is that removing children of a node using this method only removes every other node. This is due to the fact that when you remove a node that isn’t at the end of a list, the entire node tree is shifted down. Therefore, when we remove node at 0 node at 1 becomes node at 0, we then advance to 1 and remove node at 1 missing the node that was shifted! The first solution we thought of was to loop until length is 0 always removing at 0. However, we ended up using another solution that I would never have guessed. That is to instead call nsContentUtils::SetNodeTextContent(). This removes the tree for you and  puts in its place a TextNode. For our solution we just pass in an EmptyString() for the text.

nsINode > nsIDOMNode

The other thing they asked me to do was to change how we were appending nodes to the tree. Instead of using nsIDOMNode interface, this is a slower and more inefficient interface, we should use nsINode. Which has basically the same capabilities. We can do the exact some thing with nsINode in simpler code.

Patches

I submitted a patch tonight that has the most up to date code in it in regards to “WEBVTT parser management” in Gecko. I was hoping we could get this landed quickly, but the events of today have brought up even more work to do. First of all, the patch for DOM classes that we thought would get through pretty quickly has a lot of problems with it, and secondly, the cue text tag class to css selector mapping in Gecko is not at all as simple as I suspected it to be.

I found this out today when trying to get the CSS selectors working on the HTMLElements created from cue text tags. I had all the Gecko code working correctly, and yet the CSS selectors in my external CSS file were not affecting the captions. I went over to #content where bz and Ms2ger informed me that it was because we are constructing them as anonymous content. In other words, no external code can touch the HTMLElements we are creating, only internal code can. This wasn’t the behaviour that I thought was needed and after some discussion #whatwg’s zcorpan informed us that they need to live in a video::cue pseudo-element as part of a sub-document. So in your external CSS selectors you would put video::cue([tagname].[classname]) { }. However, bz said that in order to get a new pseudo-element we would need to do some ‘re-architecting’ of Gecko code. This immediately made me feel nauseous… just kidding, kind of.

In light of this our new goal is to get our current semi-working code into Gecko behind a pref and than iterate on it. Things will be a lot easier when we get the first code landed.


That’s about it as far as I can remember. We’ve done a lot of more little things since than as well. Head over to Mozilla’s WEBVTT repo on github to check out all the changes. And feel free to get on irc.mozilla.org #seneca to co-ordinate with us if you want to help!

Until next time.