Google forks WebKit with new 'Blink' rendering engine for Chrome

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
Google on Wednesday announced it will be forking the Apple-backed WebKit to create Blink, a rendering engine that will power the search giant's Chromium initiative, and consequently the Chrome Web browser, moving forward.

In a post to the official Chromium Project blog, Google said the decision to build out its own open source engine was driven by the fact that Chromium uses a different multi-process architecture than other WebKit browsers, making development an increasingly cumbersome task as both systems become more complex.

Google


The Blink HTML rendering engine is based on the Apple-built WebKit and will reportedly bring speed improvements to the various iterations of Chrome, such as the Chrome desktop browser for Mac.

"This was not an easy decision," wrote Google Software Engineer Adam Barth. "We know that the introduction of a new rendering engine can have significant implications for the web. Nevertheless, we believe that having multiple rendering engines?similar to having multiple browsers?will spur innovation and over time improve the health of the entire open web ecosystem."

According to Google Product Manager for the Open Web Platform team Alex Komoroske, and Vice President of Engineering Linus Upson, who spoke with TechCrunch on Tuesday, the move to create Blink was a result of the engineering teams feeling constrained with the complexity of the WebKit ecosystem. Komoroske explained that integrating Google's workflow with those of other WebKit partners was ?slowing everybody down.?

For now, Web developers won't see much of a difference with Blink, as Google plans to work on "internal architectural improvements and a simplification of the codebase" in the short term. The company said it will initially remove 7 build systems and cull of over 7,000 files to yield a "healthier codebase" with less bugs.

WebKit, which Blink forks, is itself an Apple fork of the KHTML engine. Apple used WebKit to power the Safari Web browser and subsequently took the engine open source in 2005. Since then, Google used the architecture in Chrome and now holds a majority of WebKit's reviewers, with Apple coming in second, followed by Blackberry, Intel, Nokia, Samsung and Adobe, among others.

It remains to be seen how Blink will change the Web development landscape, but some who were worried that the Web would become a WebKit "monoculture" see the change as an innovation driver. Opera, which recently announced it would be dropping its Presto engine for WebKit, chimed in with a statement to CNet, saying it will back Google's initiative.

"I know a lot of people worried that there would be less diversity on the Web once Opera Presto was retired, and the forking of WebKit into Blink restores that balance. Opera will be contributing to Blink in future," said Opera developer evangelist Bruce Lawson. "My personal feeling (not representing my employer, wife, children or hamster) is that Blink has a lot of promise for the Web. Its architecture allows for greater speed -- something that Opera and Google have long focused on."
«134567

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 137
    robin huberrobin huber Posts: 3,275member


    Sounds evil-ish to me 

  • Reply 2 of 137
    macrulezmacrulez Posts: 2,455member


    deleted

  • Reply 3 of 137
    macrulezmacrulez Posts: 2,455member


    deleted

  • Reply 4 of 137
    konqerrorkonqerror Posts: 685member
    macrulez wrote: »
    Actually, as with other KDE projects, the original KHTML was also open source, under the LGPL, going back as far as 1999 if not earlier.

    When Apple forked KHTML, they only released the core parts as required under the LGPL, specifically WebCore and JavaScriptCore. It was only two years after the release of Safari where Apple released the rest (under the BSD license), such as the development components and the debugger.
  • Reply 5 of 137
    slurpyslurpy Posts: 5,173member


    Google, again, making moves that are not in the best interest of consumers of developers. Now web developers have to test for yet another rendering engine, just when things were starting to get standardized under webkit. Pretty ridiculous, and frankly, disgusting. 

  • Reply 6 of 137


    "For now, Web developers won't see much of a difference with Blink, as Google plans to work on "internal architectural improvements and a simplification of the codebase" in the short term."


     


    It's not easy to strip all the private data out of your computer without slowing it down, but Google's "internal architectural improvements" will "git 'er done!"


  • Reply 7 of 137
    coolfactorcoolfactor Posts: 1,505member
    konqerror wrote: »
    When Apple forked KHTML, they only released the core parts as required under the LGPL, specifically WebCore and JavaScriptCore. It was only two years after the release of Safari where Apple released the rest (under the BSD license), such as the development components and the debugger.

    The initial release of Safari used a closed-source version of WebKit, not open-sourced as it eventually became. That's the difference.
  • Reply 8 of 137
    coolfactorcoolfactor Posts: 1,505member
    I love and hate this announcement.

    Love it because it will drive innovation, but hate it because it may have a serious impact on the continued evolution of WebKit. How will work done on Blink make its way into WebKit and vice-versa, or is this another splitting of the ways for Google? If Google was already one of the largest contributors to WebKit (so most likely all of those people will be moving to Blink), why did it become too complicated for them? Didn't they have the manpower and influence to manage the direction it went in?

    Google can fork off with Blink for all I care! ;)

    (In case there's any doubt, this is going to have a significant impact on the web rendering engine landscape. Companies will choose to contribue to one or the other, not both.)
  • Reply 9 of 137
    gwmacgwmac Posts: 1,797member
    I am just grateful to never visit a site anymore that says "Internet Explorer is required to view this site". Usually because of their use of Active X or something like that only available on Windows. As long as us Mac folks can continue to surf without being penalized as years ago I am all for speed and diversity of choice.
  • Reply 10 of 137
    nagrommenagromme Posts: 2,834member
    Meanwhile Mozilla just announced another new rendering engine too, in cooperation with Samsung of all things. Meanwhile Gecko also remains in use, and MS continues to push yet-another-flavor of IE.

    Web developers had some light at the end of the fragmentation tunnel, but it's flickering out!
  • Reply 11 of 137
    [quote]I love and hate this announcement. Love it because it will drive innovation, but hate it because it may have a serious impact on the continued evolution of WebKit. How will work done on Blink make its way into WebKit and vice-versa, or is this another splitting of the ways for Google?[/quote]
    http://www.chromium.org/blink
  • Reply 12 of 137
    libertyforalllibertyforall Posts: 1,302member
    Time will tell what Google's intentions really are, and it could be healthy -- for now I'll keep an open mind...
  • Reply 13 of 137
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,675member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post



    "This was not an easy decision," wrote Google Software Engineer Adam Barth. "We know that the introduction of a new rendering engine can have significant implications for the web. Nevertheless, we believe that having multiple rendering engines?similar to having multiple browsers?will spur innovation and over time improve the health of the entire open web ecosystem."

     




    What a bunch of canned-template-response bullsh!t this is.  I guess Google missed the old PC days of different browsers having different demands and requirements and nothing worked seamlessly.



    Not too long down the road, we'll have websites saying "Google Webkit required to view site" crap.  Shame on them.

  • Reply 14 of 137

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by nagromme View Post



    Meanwhile Mozilla just announced another new rendering engine too, in cooperation with Samsung of all things. Meanwhile Gecko also remains in use, and MS continues to push yet-another-flavor of IE.



    Web developers had some light at the end of the fragmentation tunnel, but it's flickering out!


    Yeah, "fragmentation" is such an awful thing. Too bad we can't go back to those halcyon days of the early 2000s when almost everyone used IE. Those were great days for web design, let me tell you!

  • Reply 15 of 137
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    1) I think it was not 2 months ago I suggested this might happen.

    2) I think some are reading too much into this forking. It will not bring us back to the dark ages of web browsing. There is no reason to expect Google to alter WebKit in ways that do not support the modern and future web.
  • Reply 16 of 137
    To all you 'apparent' web devs; suck it up!

    Seriously, part of your job is cross browser testing. This is a great thing to drive innovation in the space we work. A monopoly stifles inovation and webkit was drawing close to that.

    Very keen to see what google does with Blink and what features it brings to desktop and mobile (both iOS and Android)
  • Reply 17 of 137
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    To all you 'apparent' web devs; suck it up!

    Seriously, part of your job is cross browser testing. This is a great thing to drive innovation in the space we work. A monopoly stifles inovation and webkit was drawing close to that.

    Very keen to see what google does with Blink and what features it brings to desktop and mobile (both iOS and Android)

    Saying that the open source WebKit somehow creates a monopoly is like saying that HTML5 creates a monopoly.
  • Reply 18 of 137

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post





    Saying that the open source WebKit somehow creates a monopoly is like saying that HTML5 creates a monopoly.


     


    Considering Webkit is software, and HTML5 is, in practice, a collection of languages.. i would say you're wrong. 

  • Reply 19 of 137
    mdriftmeyermdriftmeyer Posts: 7,293member
    This is excellent news for the likes of Safari, Opera, GNOME Epiphany, Qt variants and more. How come? Because the amount of superfluous crap Google has been screwing with shows they know how to create bloat.

    It's another reason Apple and a solid team of industry professionals have lockdown on the direction of LLVM/Clang/LLDB/Compiler-RT, etc.

    The amount of crap code that the likes of so many large corporations wanting to just dump ideas into LLVM/Clang gets smacked back with a shot of reality and a staging process of several months before they get signed off on.

    WebKit2 is a beautiful architecture. It inherently benefits from the MVC model championed since the foundings of NeXT.

    There is a reason Safari on iOS is a much higher quality based browser than the junk on Android.
  • Reply 20 of 137
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    To all you 'apparent' web devs; suck it up!

    Seriously, part of your job is cross browser testing. This is a great thing to drive innovation in the space we work. A monopoly stifles inovation and webkit was drawing close to that.

    In theory, that makes sense.

    In practice, however, think about the days when IE was the standard. I had to keep 3 different browsers on my system to just be sure that any given site would work on at least one of them.
Sign In or Register to comment.