Google Forking WebKit, Announces ‘Blink’ Web Rendering Engine

Google Forking WebKit, Announces ‘Blink’ Web Rendering Engine

Google announced today that the company is forking the WebKit rendering engine in order to create its own custom rendering engine called “Blink.” Google had previously used the Apple-initiated WebKit project to power the Chrome browser across all platforms.

Google-logoThe move means Google can now make changes to the the rendering engine without going through the WebKit bureaucracy as needed when saving its changes to WebKit.

The company posted the following on its FAQ explaining why it is creating the new engine:

The main reason is that Chromium uses a different multi-process architecture than other WebKit-based browsers. So, over the years, supporting multiple architectures has led to increasing complexity for both the WebKit and Chromium communities, slowing down the collective pace of innovation. 

Of course this most likely means that Chrome on iOS can’t use Blink, at least if you follow the letter of the law in Apple’s iOS app guidelines, which says all browsers on iOS MUST use the WebKit rendering engine.

Google of course, has its own mobile operating system, Android, which will be using Blink when the engine is ready. So, this can be seen as a move by Google to be able at sometime in the future to trumpet the “Android Only” features of Blink.

Opera, they of the minuscule desktop browser market share announced they will be ditching WebKit as their rendering engine, and will be jumping on to the Blink bandwagon. This can be seen as a nice win for Google, since even though Opera has a minimal following on the desktop, they are a player in the mobile space.

While many interpretations of Google’s moves today are available on the web, my favorite is prng.net’s read on Google’s Chrome Blink Developer FAQ, in what they call “A Short Translation from Bullsh** to English of Selected Portions of the Google Chrome Blink Developer FAQ.” (The page may be considered NSFW, because of language.)

My favorite excerpt: 

1 Why is Chrome spawning a new browser engine?

The WebKit maintainers wouldn’t let us attack Apple directly, by changing WebKit in ways that would make it perform badly on OS X and iOS.

Because they share a rendering engine, developer effort to ensure Chrome compatibility currently benefits Apple platforms for free. To prevent this, we must make Chrome and WebKit behave differently.

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