Claudio Saavedra

claudio@codemonkey.cl

Go forward in time to March 2016.

Mon 2016/Feb/08

About a year ago, Igalia was approached by the people working on printing-related technologies in HP to see whether we could give them a hand in their ongoing effort to improve the printing experience in the web. They had been working for a while in extensions for popular web browsers that would allow users, for example, to distill a web page from cruft and ads and format its relevant contents in a way that would be pleasant to read in print. While these extensions were working fine, they were interested in exploring the possibility of adding this feature to popular browsers, so that users wouldn't need to be bothered with installing extensions to have an improved printing experience.

That's how Alex, Martin, and me spent a few months exploring the Chromium project and its printing architecture. Soon enough we found out that the Chromium developers had been working already on a feature that would allow pages to be removed from cruft and presented in a sort of reader mode, at least in mobile versions of the browser. This is achieved through a module called dom distiller, which basically has the ability to traverse the DOM tree of a web page and return a clean DOM tree with only the important contents of the page. This module is based on the algorithms and heuristics in a project called boilerpipe with some of it also coming from the now popular Readability. Our goal, then, was to integrate the DOM distiller with the modules in Chromium that take care of generating the document that is then sent to both the print preview and the printing service, as well as making this feature available in the printing UI.

After a couple of months of work and thanks to the kind code reviews of the folks at Google, we got the feature landed in Chromium's repository. For a while, though, it remained hidden behind a runtime flag, as the Chromium team needed to make sure that things would work well enough in all fronts before making it available to all users. Fast-forward to last week, when I found out by chance that the runtime flag has been flipped and the Simplify page printing option has been available in Chromium and Chrome for a while now, and it has even reached the stable releases. The reader mode feature in Chromium seems to remain hidden behind a runtime flag, I think, which is interesting considering that this was the original motivation behind the dom distiller.

As a side note, it is worth mentioning that the collaboration with HP was pretty neat and it's a good example of the ways in which Igalia can help organizations to improve the web experience of users. From the standards that define the web to the browsers that people use in their everyday life, there are plenty of areas in which work needs to be done to make the web a more pleasant place, for web developers and users alike. If your organization relies on the web to reach its users, or to enable them to make use of your technologies, chances are that there are areas in which their experience can be improved and that's one of the things we love doing.

Thu 2016/Feb/04

We've opened a few positions for developers in the fields of multimedia, networking, and compilers. I could say a lot about why working in Igalia is way different to working on your average tech-company or start-up, but I think the way it's summarized in the announcements is pretty good. Have a look at them if you are curious and don't hesitate to apply!

Go backwards in time to January 2016.

Thu 2016/Feb/04 14:53:46 +0200