By John Gruber
Next-generation Apple device management for macOS, iOS, iPadOS, and tvOS. Request access.
Question for Apple: Is it “Web Kit” or “WebKit”?
As a stickler for detail and consistency, this has been driving me nuts ever since the framework was announced. Apple’s inconsistency regarding whether there’s a space in the name is borderline comical. I mean, just look at the Apple Developer Connection page for “Internet & Web” technologies, where both spellings appear nearly side by side:
A year or so ago, I checked with someone in Apple’s documentation group, and he stated categorically that the official spelling was “Web Kit”, with the space. Not surprisingly, the Web Kit Objective-C Reference, which is produced by Apple’s documentation group, consistently uses “Web Kit”. And, on the schizo ADC web page referenced above, “Web Kit” appears seven times; “WebKit” only twice.
However, on this page, “WebKit” beats “Web Kit” eight to zero. Plus, the WebKit Open Source Project’s web site is mostly consistent with its use of the “WebKit” spelling, and judging from their Surfin’ Safari weblog entries and their posts to the mailing list, the developers working on the code have settled upon the closed-up “WebKit”.
As near as I can tell, the official names for each of the Cocoa kits include a space:
But then there’s the granddaddy of all Cocoa kits, the Application Kit, a.k.a. AppKit. “Application Kit” is the official name of the framework, but “AppKit” is an accepted and frequently-used abbreviation — for example, the title of the aforelinked document is “AppKit The Application Kit”.
So I think what has happened with Web Kit is that the framework’s name does (and should, for the sake of consistency) have a space, but that because the closed-up “AppKit” is both accepted and commonly used, the closed-up “WebKit” is what comes naturally to Cocoa programmers. I.e. that in the same way that Application Kit is commonly abbreviated “AppKit”, Web Kit is commonly abbreviated “WebKit”.1
We don’t frequently see this erroneous closing-up of kit names with I/O Kit or PDF Kit because closing up their names looks bad. (All-capital words seldom read well in CamelCase.) “SearchKit”, on the other hand, looks reasonable, and judging by Google results, it does in fact get used.
But unlike Application Kit/AppKit, which feels like a legitimate and useful abbreviation in that the short form is both easier to pronounce and to type, Web Kit/WebKit just looks like inconsistent spelling. They’re pronounced the same, and unless you have two broken thumbs, it’d be hard to argue that “WebKit” is easier to type.
Plug them into GoogleFight and “WebKit” absolutely kicks “Web Kit”’s ass; but that doesn’t make it right. My gut feeling is thus that “WebKit” is a mistake. But I don’t really care which spelling Apple settles on, I just want it settled.
The fact that WebCore, the lower-level HTML rendering engine at the heart of Web Kit, is universally spelled with no breaking space probably contributes to the use of “WebKit” as well. Not to mention the whole “web site” vs. “website” can of worms.↩︎