Mozilla's Servo Still On Track For 2015 Alpha Release

Written by Michael Larabel in Mozilla on 19 January 2015 at 11:58 AM EST. 14 Comments
Mozilla's Servo Engine that's written in the Rust programming language and designed to be a highly parallel layout engine continues to be advancing very well and could see an alpha release this year.

Jack Moffitt of Mozilla talked at last week's Linux.Conf.Au 2015 conference about the work he and a dozen or so other Mozilla engineers have been doing on the experimental Servo engine.

As explained during a status update from November, Servo's performance has been very fast compared to Gecko and other web layout engines. As mentioned in that update and reaffirmed last week, Servo developers are indeed hoping to have an alpha quality release of the engine out in 2015.

Besides being fast and written to offer greater standards compliance, Servo should be more secure with being written in Rust. Servo has also been designed to be embeddable from the start. The first bits of Servo support in Firefox OS are now working in experimental form -- at least for booting to the ACID2 test. Jack said during his presentation that he hopes to have about 50% of standard web features implemented this year while the most popular web pages are all rendering well.

The performance of Servo has been described as "amazingly well" compared to Gecko and that even a single thread ofServo is faster than Gecko. However, the results for now should be taken for a grain of salt given that more functionality still needs to be implemented. CNN and Reddit were frequently mentioned as popular sites rendering well with Servo. The goal with Servo is to deliver better responsiveness and lower power use than Gecko (and alternatives).

With Servo coming along, the developers hope to eventually begin landing Servo and Rust support within Gecko to allow more developers to begin familiarizing themselves with the new engine. The first component likely to find its way implemented in Gecko/Firefox from Servo is probably the BMP decoder, given that it's a small piece of the puzzle and shouldn't cause too much fallout in the case of problems. Other Servo/Rust components likely to get green lit early on is also a new HTML parser and URL parsing library.

Those wishing to watch Jack Moffitt's LCA2015 presentation can find it embedded below and check out the other LCA2015 videos.

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