The Themis project (additional link with screenshots and icons here) has always fascinated me somehow. The concept is good, and with some work it can bring forth a fantastic BeOS-native browser that goes way beyond the capabilities of NetPositive, and is open source as well. I already knew Mark Hellegers, one of the browser's developers, from earlier BeGeistert events as he is one of the few core Dutch visitors. I think most of you would like to know a bit more about Themis and its goals. That's why I sat down with Mark for a short while, and under read more you'll see what came out.

If what you are about to read draws your interest and you are considering to join the project, drop a line at z3r0_one at users dot sourceforge dot net. IsComputerOn: So let's start with the beginning. How did the whole Themis project take off?

Mark Hellegers: Raymond [Rodgers] started the project. He wanted a more modern browser than was available at that time, and wanted a different approach than the standard, a completely modular approach with even separate tags being modules. But that last thing we dropped because that wasn't going to work with modern standards. I myself joined in after about a year, which was by the end of 2001. Now we have four active developers.

ICO: What's Themis eventually supposed to become?

Mark: A small fast BeOS-native browser.

ICO: Like NetPositive?

Mark: Yes.

ICO: And what will then be the real difference between NetPositive and Themis?

Mark: Themis will be more modular, so people can add their own parts to it, and Themis will support most modern standards, like HTML 4.0 and CSS.

ICO: So it will support plugins, will people also be able to throw in plugins other than parsers?

Mark: Yeah, you could think of Flash, Java, JavaScript, whatever one feels like adding.

ICO: Do you have a certain kind of release date, like do you want to get it out as a more or less complete version within a reasonable amount of time?

Mark: I think we can have something rendering on screen in at most six months, and to have something usable in a year. But this all depends on how much time we all have.

ICO: What are the delaying factors to the progress of the Themis browser?

Mark: Implementing the full specification of a protocol, for instance HTTP and FTP, or that of markup languages, like HTML and CSS.

ICO: So what you're saying is, the Themis browser will also support FTP?

Mark: We eventually do intend to, but we first want to implement all components so that HTML can be rendered. After that we will add other things, including FTP.

ICO: Have some things gone wrong already, or did you run into some kind of problem or difficulcy so far?

Mark: Oh yeah, plenty. SSL is tough to support on NetServer, getting the HTTP protocol to work on most web servers is also difficult, and parsing sloppy HTML files is a challenge.

ICO: I've just seen Themis parsing an HTML page, and it does take some time to do that. Do you think you can speed this up easily?

Mark: Well, you've seen it parsing on a really old laptop with unsupported graphics, which slows it down quite a bit. But it does still need to get faster. There are still some optimizations to do that will cut down on the parsing time, but exactly how much of a difference that will make, I don't know.

ICO: Final question. Are you letting yourself be inspired a great deal by other browsers, or do you really try to come up with ideas and solutions all by yourself?

Mark: Part of the fun of working on Themis is learning how a browser works, and I personally try to find a flexible solution to the problem I'm working on. How the other team members work, you'd have to ask them.