Tagged: w3c specification

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.


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

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! ūüė¶ 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.


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.


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.

WEBVTT Mozilla Presentation

In my last post I talked about the team having to sprint to a demo in order to be able to present WEBVTT at Mozilla Toronto. We ended up being able to cobble together a simple demo — thank God. It was starting to look like in the last hours that we weren’t going to be able to do it, but we pulled through!¬†You can check out the presentation where we show the working demo on AirMozilla. The most interesting thing about the demo for me was the fact that it had the effect of revealing to us just how much work is left on WEBVTT. So be prepared for many, many, many more blog posts ; ) on WEBVTT.

I haven’t been able to put as much time as I’d like to into WEBVTT in the last couple of weeks since a lot of my other classes are starting to finish up — lots of papers, presentations, etc, are due. This is also my final semester so I’m in a course where I have to write a white paper, basically a small thesis paper. I’ll be posting that on my blog when I’m finished as I’m finding my topic, Open-source Software Governance Systems, fairly interesting and although I’m no expert, maybe others will find it interesting as well.

In light of this I’ve only been able to do minor things on the WEBVTT project since the demo. I’ve been reviewing code, keeping up to date with issues, fixing some minor bugs in the cue-text parser, finishing up the rest of the cue-text unit test fixes, and finally, reading through the HTML 5 spec to figure out just what is left to be done. The HTML 5 spec kind of frustrates me as it doesn’t put all the text-track stuff together. Granted, there is an organization to it, but I’m only concerned with text-track… and it’s kind of hard to find all the text-track stuff barring reading through the entire spec. Some of the things I’ve been finding are that we do not have the entire HTML 5 spec¬†implemented yet and some portions of the spec have already changed. For example, getCueAsHtml() is no longer in it. So we will have to do some updating at some point.

My white paper is due this coming Monday, so after that I will be turning my full attention to WEBVTT as my class needs to get it to 1.0 before the semester ends.

WEBVTT: Unit tests, unit tests…

I haven’t written in a quite a while so this is going to be a pretty long post.

TLDR: I made some progress on the Gecko code for the WEBVTT parser integration, but was unable to finish because I was moved over to finishing the WEBVTT parser exclusively as we needed to move fast on it. This resulted in unit test fixing galore.

Gecko Integration

I was working on the Gecko integration stuffyo before I got pulled away and made some decent progress on that. I got some feedback on my first WIP and I addressed most of the issues that the reviewers pointed out. A lot of it was minor nits like code style or incorrect code that I just needed to remove. However, there were a few big things:

  • Getting the OnDataAvailable() function to use the ReadSegments() function of the stream it is passed. To do this you need to create your own function that conforms to the function prototype of nsWriteSegmentFunc. What that does is it allows the nsIInputStream to read in your buffer for you and then you can just hand that buffer over to whatever you need to. This prevents memory leaks as it creates a central location where the memory leak would happen, and presumably, the code in the tree is already written for you and probably better then what you’ve written — so just use it.
  • Use an nsAutoRefTrait¬†to manage the lifetime of the nsAutoRef<webvtt_parser>. That ended up not being so hard. What an nsAutoRefTrait of xType does is define what an nsAutoRef of xType needs to do during it’s lifetime. In our code, for example, all we need to do is define a Release() function that tells the nsAutoRef pointer what to call when it is being released. There are a few more behaviours that you can define like what do do on setup, etc. This is necessary since most things in the Gecko code are all smart pointers and objects, so you don’t want to manage their lifetimes explicitly, but you do want to provide a way to define the appropriate steps it needs to do during its lifetime. The awesome thing about this is that once you create an nsAutoRef of xType the nsAutoRefTrait of xType will be automatically linked to it.

The other couple of things I did before I submitted my last WIP for feeback was fleshing out a lot of the code that will convert the c structs from the c parser to DOM elements, getting the code that deals with DocumentFragments working correctly, and a few other minor things. You can check out the full WIP that I submitted for my last review here.

Driving Issues

The other thing that I was really trying to do up until this point, and currently, is drive the issue list. I’ve noticed that the issue list tends to stagnate if no one is there monitoring it. To this point I have been looking over the issue list, about once every other day, and closing issues that need to be closed, i.e. onces that have been resolved, seem to be going nowhere, or seem to have gone as far as they are able to, as well as trying to push issues that seem to have stalled by @ mentioning the parties involved, or asking a question about where we should head in light of the issue. This process has been very helpful because it has enabled us to keep our issue list from being cluttered by issues that are no longer needed and to also drive issues that people might have forgotten about.

Parser Unit Test Debugging

About three weeks into working on the Gecko integration as well as the parser ¬†I was asked to step back from the Gecko integration for a while and to start working exclusively on getting the parser to pass all the unit tests. To that end, I relinquished my duties on the Gecko integration for a bit. My first job was to help Caitlin get her massive patch split up and landed. To do this she asked me to write a finish parsing function that would allow the patch to be split up more easily. After that was done I started to work on the payload unit tests, as I anticipated Caitlin’s cue code to be landing soon. I was able to get around 90 % of the payload unit tests working over reading week, valgrind and all, and solve many bugs in the parser. A lot of the bugs that were effecting the payload tests were also effecting the cue tests, so I was able to hit two birds with one stone in many cases.

The Importance of Passing Unit Tests

I came across a situation in this sprint where I re-discovered the importance of passing unit tests. How it all started was myself fixing a problem we were having with a function that we use to attach a parsed cue text node to another parent node. The function kept segfaulting and it was pretty easy to figure out what had been happening — it was dereferencing a variable before allocating memory for it. To fix this I allocated memory before hand, as well as rearranged the function a bit to simplify it and make it look cleaner. The code¬†got landed and all was good, or so I thought. Later I uncovered that some of the valgrind errors we were getting in another unit tests were actually caused by what I had landed earlier. It was an easy fix, but it just goes to show how important passing unit tests are. It’s kind of impossible to tell if the code you write breaks anything when everything is broken to begin with.

The Art of Face Palming

As always this last week’s sprint had its fair share of face palming. Over the years I’ve gotten pretty good at it — you might even call me a face palm artist. This weeks face palm that takes first prize was an error we were getting in the grow function for strings where we were using the ‘==’ operator when we really wanted the ‘=’ operator. This was in an if statement, no less, so it took me a couple looks and one double-take to realize what was happening. C you upset me so much, I think we should break up.

Reference Counting is Really Nice

This is the first time I’ve really used reference counting myself, but I have to say it’s pretty awesome. I’ve heard some talk smack about it, but from my small experience working on the WEBVTT parser with it, it makes things so much easier. Especially since a lot of our objects are shared in multiple places in and outside of the parser. The problem that I found reference counting solves is when a project gets so big that is hard to tell where an object is used, especially when they are passed around a lot. So you might have the case where someone decides to delete an object that another piece of code is trying to use and it blows up. This isn’t even the worse case. The worse case is when you do this and it doesn’t blow up at first — so it’s landed. Then later, for what seems like a random reason, it will start blowing up because the use case where the code that you just landed causes the code to blow up is taking place. So now the reason why it is blowing up is not entirely clear at first. Reference counting makes this so much easier because when you are coding you can, in most cases, just assume that the calling function increased the reference count of the object when it passed it to your code, and so at the end of the code you can safely call the release function. No more explicitly managing the objects, your objects know when they need to be deleted. Due to this I’ve implemented reference counting on both the c nodes and our¬†c string lists. Both of these structs are used extensively, passed around a lot, and are made available externally through the C++ wrappers. So it’s nice to have ref counting on them.

What Makes a Good Pull Request

One of the final things that really got reinforced to me over this last week’s sprint was the factors that make a good pull request, or patch. A good pull request is kind of like a good unit test. You want it to be focused in what it is trying to accomplish and atomic in scale i.e. it touches as little as possible. That doesn’t mean you can’t make pull requests that change like a billion lines. What it does mean is that those billion lines are all being changed for the same focused reason. Granted, there are times when these rules cannot be followed, but you should try to follow them in ‚Čą99% of your pull requests.

My Pull Requests are Over 9000 (not really, I’m a nub)

If you’d like to check out the work I’ve been doing for the past couple of weeks you can look at my list of pull requests.

Next Week

Next week, March 14, we will be travelling to the Mozilla Toronto Office for our class. Our Professor, Dave Humphrey, wants us to have a demo and presentation ready to show the devs at Mozilla. So we will be sprinting on getting the last pieces of the puzzle for the WEBVTT integration locked in. This is mostly the integration code that I had to leave off on last week. I’m going to be getting a lot of help this time for that so hopefully we will get it done.

Until next time.

WEBVTT Update: Parser Review, Integration into Firefox

For the last two weeks we’ve been working steadily on the WEBVTT parser. Most of the work being done now is related to getting the parser integrated into Firefox. We’re building on top of the original bug filed on bugzilla by Ralph and are now using it as a co-ordination bug for the five other bugs we’ve split it up into. The “bug sections” that we’ve split it up into are:

  • Integrating the webvtt build system into the Firefox build system.
  • Adding a captions div to an nsVideoFrame so the captions can be rendered on screen.
  • Creating a “Text Track Decoder” that will function as the entry point for Gecko into the webvtt parser.
  • Creating new DOM bindings i.e. TextTrack, TextTrackCue, TextTrackCueList.
  • Creating DOM tests using Mochitest for the new DOM bindings.

You can check out a more in depth break down of our bug plan here.

The other major thing that a few of us in the class have been engaged in is the review¬†of the 0.4 parser code. The review is still in it’s early to mid stages, so we have a lot more to do on that. I’ve been participating there by filing and commenting on issues and fixing a few of the bugs that have surfaced.

We’ve also moved the parser code over to the mozilla webvtt repository on GitHub (yay!) and have landed the 0.4 parser code there in a dev branch. After the review is done it will be landed on the master branch.

Firefox Integration

I’ve been working on the Text Track Decoder for the parser integration into Firefox. This part of the integration functions as an entry point into our parser for Gecko.

How It Works

The short version of how the Text Track Decoder works is that when an¬†HtmlTrackElement¬†receives new data from a vtt byte stream it passes it off to it’s¬†WebVTTLoadListener¬†(Text Track Decoder) which then calls our webvtt parser to parse the chunk of the byte stream it just reveived. The WebVTTLoadListener also provides call back functions to the parser for passing back cues when the parser has finished them or for reporting errors when the parser encounters them. The final function that the WebVTTLoadListener facilitates is converting the cues that have been passed back in the call back function to the various DOM elements that represent a webvtt_cue and then attaching those to either the HtmlTrackElement’s track, in the case of the cue settings, or the HtmlTrackElement’s MediaElement’s video div caption overlay (phew), in the case of the parsed webvtt cue text node tree.

What We’ve Done

The first order of business that we took care of in getting this done was to ask Chris Pearce, who works very closely with Firefox’s media stuff, to give us a high level overview of what we would need to accomplish in order to get this working. That was sent in the form of an email which my Professor, Dave Humphrey, then kindly¬†posted¬†on our bug (I forgot to do so!).

We then quickly went about implementing Chris’s initial steps that he talked about. We’ve done steps 1 – 4 so far:

  • The HtmlTrackElement::LoadListener has been moved to it’s own file and renamed WebVTTLoadListener.
  • The HtmlTrackElement now has a WebVTTLoadListener reference which is initialized in LoadResource.
  • WebVTTLoadListener now manages a single webvtt parser which is created and destroyed along with it.
  • WebVTTLoadListener now provides call back functions to the parser for returning finished cues and reporting errors.

We’ve also added three convenience functions to turn webvtt cue stuff into the DOM bindings. These are:

  • cCueToDomCue¬†– Transforms a webvtt cue’s settings into a TextTrackCue (almost done).
  • cNodeToHtmlElement¬†– ¬†Transforms a webvtt node into an HtmlElement; recursively adds HtmlElements to it’s children if it is converting an internal webvtt node (not done at all!).
  • cNodeListToDocumentFragment¬†– Transforms the head node’s children into HtmlElements and adds them to a DocumentFragment (pretty much done).

The call back function for returning cues now:

  • Calls the cCueToDomCue function and adds the resulting HtmlTextTrackCue to it’s owning HtmlTrackElements cue list.
  • Calls the cNodeListToDocumentFragment and adds the resulting DocumentFragment to the caption overlay.

Right now we’ve run into some problems in figuring out how to work with the Firefox code. I’ve listed those in my recent WIP update on the bug. Other then implementing those steps I’ve just been getting acquainted with the Firefox code that we have to touch and figuring out the basics of how it’s all going to fit in. I think we’ve gotten a big chunk of it done so far, mostly the overall frame of how it’s going to work as well as turning a webvtt cue’s settings into a TextTrackCue. I’ve also met the deadlines and goals that I set for myself¬†at the beginning of this semester, so I’m fairly happy. Going forward I think I know enough now to ask intelligent questions about how to solve the problems that I listed in the WIP, so that’s what I will be doing in the coming weeks when I get stuck.

As always, I’m ever confident that we will finish the project!