Today we're proudly hosting and presenting another GSoC interview, this time with accepted student Maxime Simon. Maxime is working on the project to integrate the WebKit into a native browser, along with the mentor Ryan Leavengood.
Click below to read Maxime's interview, enjoy.
ICO - To start things off, why don't you tell us about yourself?
Maxime - As you know my name is Maxime Simon. I am a French student currently in his third year studying Computer Science at Rennes 1 University. I am 21 years old. And in fact I really enjoy coding. With reading documentation, chatting and sometimes, watching movies, it takes most of my time.
ICO - And how did you start with coding? What made you want to do it?
Maxime - I was pretty excited when the first computer arrived at home. I know I am young, and my parents weren't fans of new technologies, so it was in 1999. At this time I began to be really interested in IT. I read some tutorials and howtos about coding but didn't find any project ideas to develop.
When I went to University I met students who were already coding for themselves. I also had academic coding projects which made me really exalted. After this, with a friend we started a project then two, etc...
ICO - What were those first projects you coded?
Maxime - My first "big" project used an obscure language called "oRis", an object and agent-oriented language developed as part of the doctoral thesis of Fabrice Harrouet. The project's objective was to design a simulation of pathfinding robots, with basic behaviour and capable of cooperating to achieve goals in a virtual maze. This was an academic project. But as a personal project, I tried to rewrite it using C++ and Qt. We were two on this project, but sadly its development has been on hold for a while, due to lack of time.
This year, my main project was to write a compiler in Java for a natural imperative "project" language, a good introduction to understanding and using widespread compilers.
ICO - How did you find out about GSoC and when were you first interested in participating?
Maxime - I first heard of the GSoC last year, when a friend and I were speaking of Summer jobs. I was interested but I thought my coding level wasn't high enough to be accepted.
This year I haven't missed my chance.
ICO - When did you learn about Haiku? Had you any previous experience with BeOS or Zeta?
Maxime - Since the start of my tiny computing experience I was very interested in alternative systems. As a great lambda-user (average Joe in French) I began with a Windows 98, but rapidly I installed Linux. During this time I documented myself on the other alternatives. When the virtualization arrived I was randy: at least I could test each of these systems! Today my computer is running on Mac OSX, and I virtualize enormously.
ICO - Are you running Haiku only in a VM, or are you planning on running it natively?
Maxime - Currently I am running Haiku only in a VM, but I am planning to running it using an USB stick (as soon as I find it). I wish I could boot Haiku natively on this computer.
ICO - What convinced you that Haiku is a project worth working on?
Maxime - As I said, I like alternative systems, and I found in Haiku a really refreshing system. The second point is that I didn't want to work for a big organization such as Gnome, or VLC. They are both great organizations, but I wanted something different, something not related to Linux as much as possible.
ICO - Your project (integrating WebKit in a Haiku native browser) is probably the most exciting one for me, what made you choose it?
Maxime - I think other projects such as CIFS client Implementation are truly important, but for the end-user, the first thing they would see is the environment, and a native browser is part of it. I also think WebKit is, at the moment, the best HTML rendering engine. And it would be a shame if Haiku didn't support it.
The second part of this project (developing a native browser) is, in my humble opinion, an important point for Haiku. I know there is an existing port of Firefox (named BeZilla), but I feel it's like an elephant on the ice, but it is a tremendous port in fact.
ICO - How is the work coming along and how important is Ryan's experience in this field to it?
Maxime - For the GSoC, the start of coding is on May 24, but I think we will begin earlier because it's a huge project. The first thing to do will be to update the existing port of WebKit that Ryan made two years ago. Ryan's experience will be very useful at this point. He has already a big knowledge of porting WebKit.
In the second part of the project, developing a native browser, Ryan's experience of coding will also be helpful. I think we will take some inspiration of Chromium, a modern well-thought web browser in my opinion.
ICO - Were you divided between that project and any other on the list?
Maxime - Firstly I submitted this application (integrating WebKit in a Haiku native browser), but Matt (the administrator of GSoC for Haiku) posted a comment to all proposals which were about the WebKit project. He asked us to submit an application to another project because this project has too much success. So I decided to post an application for the project which was to update the AbiWord port. I think it's also a good project, as Haiku needs a word processor.
But finally, mentors asked me if I prefered the AbiWord or the WebKit project. They see the AbiWord one as important, but updating the WebKit version is much more urgent.
ICO - How was the application process? Was anything overly complicated or discouraging?
Maxime - Submitting an application to GSoC isn't really hard. The competition would be hard, (3500 students and only 1000 are accepted) but I didn't feel it. The atmosphere was friendly. All that could be expected from open source and students. :)
This time mentors have decided to select students not only from their application, but also by testing them. They ask us to tackle some issues. A great idea actually, because it allowed me to apply to the GSoC. (There were proposals really better than mine.)
ICO - Besides Haiku, did you apply to any of the other organizations involved with GSoC? If so and you don't mind sharing, which?
Maxime - I had the idea to apply to other organizations like AbiWord. But I thought I better focus on one or two applications and in only one organization.
I'd like to thank Maxime for taking the time to answer our questions, he was most kind.