Opera, Google Chrome Browsers to Jump Off WebKit Onto "Blink" Branch
April 4, 2013 1:38 PM
comment(s) - last by
(Source: Marvel Comics)
Apple will likely be left on its lonesome supporting WebKit
For a long while now WebKit (derived from KHTML) has been marching towards being the dominant rendering engine of the web. Competing against Microsoft Corp.'s (
) proprietary Trident engine and the
's open-source Gecko engine, WebKit powers a number of browsers.
Google, Inc.'s (
) Chrome, Apple, Inc.'s (
) Safari, and BlackBerry Ltd.'s (
) device browsers all use WebKit. And with Norwegian browser-maker Opera Software ASA's (
) decision to
ditch its proprietary Presto engine
and saddle up with WebKit, it seemed WebKit was headed towards hegemony.
I. Google -- Do Blink
But today Google shook up the browser tree, announcing that it would be branching Chromium's rendering engine off of WebKit. The new engine will be dubbed "Blink". What's more Opera has already announced that it will be joining the new effort.
Apple appears unlikely to make the switch. It's unclear whether BlackBerry will.
Google says its main reason for jumping to a new branch is because it uses a more complex multi-process model than Apple -- the other biggest WebKit contributor. Google's Adam Barth
Chromium uses a different
than other WebKit-based browsers, and supporting multiple architectures over the years has led to increasing complexity for both the WebKit and Chromium projects. This has slowed down the collective pace of innovation.
Chromium is a little complex multi-process-wise. [Image Source: Google]
The change won't happen overnight, but the jump means that the engine behind Chrome (Blink) and WebKit will gradually drift apart.
II. Practicality or a Competitive Maneuver?
Alex Russell, another Google Chrome engineer, reemphasizes this point, predicting that coverage on Blink will be full of "tripe we’re about to sell each other as 'news.'" He writes that the two major drivers of the switch were development time and processing speed. He
Why couldn’t those cycle-time-improving changes happen inside WebKit? After all, much work has happened in the past 4 years (often by Googlers) to improve the directness of WebKit work: EWS bots, better code review flow, improved scripts and tools for managing checkins, the commit queue itself. The results have been impressive and have enabled huge growth and adoption by porters. WebKit now supports multiple multi-process architecture designs, something like a half-dozen network stack plug-ins, and similar diversity at every point where the engine calls back to outside systems for low-level implementation (GPU, network, storage, databases, fonts…you name it). The community is now committed to enabling porters, and due to WebKit’s low-ish level of abstraction each new port raises the tax paid by every other port.
has observed, this diversity creates an ongoing drag when the dependencies are intertwined with core APIs in such a way that they can bite you every time you go to make a change. The
Content API boundary
is Blink’s higher-level “embedding” layer and encapsulates all of those concerns, enabling much cleaner lines of sight through the codebase and the removal of abstractions that seek only to triangulate between opaque constraints of other’s port.
In other words, aside from the process model, another place where Apple and Google's objectives differ is platform support. Google supports many platforms -- Apple supports only one. Google wants to go back to the drawing board and better encapsulate the platform implementations to prevent them from slowing the overall engine.
Google is leaving Apple on its lonesome to develop WebKit. [Image Source: Google]
But as much as Mr. Russell emphasizes practical necessities, there is one implication that's at least an interesting coincidence, to say the least: Google branching away from the core WebKit is a major blow to Apple.
For some time now Apple could rely on Google to make WebKit as fast and reliable as possible. Apple, thus, effectively gained a better Safari for Macs and i-devices thanks, in part, to Google's labors. Now it will have to go it alone.
Google may say the move is mere practicality -- and it certain does offer a strong justification in support of that claim. But the branch is yet one more instance of how Google and Apple --
once close allies
relationship becomes increasingly adversarial
Infrequently [Google Chrome Engineer]
This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled
RE: web dev
4/4/2013 3:02:19 PM
We won't. Google is following Mozilla's recent decision to enable experimental HTML5 features as a browser option instead of via vendor specific prefixes.
"Game reviewers fought each other to write the most glowing coverage possible for the powerhouse Sony, MS systems. Reviewers flipped coins to see who would review the Nintendo Wii. The losers got stuck with the job." -- Andy Marken
Opera Saddles up With Google, Apple by Moving to WebKit
February 13, 2013, 2:54 PM
Report: Google Pays $700M to Apple for Prominent Mobile Search Placement
February 11, 2013, 2:48 PM
Google CEO: We Have no Real "Competitors", Apple's Fixation is Self-Destructive
December 11, 2012, 4:45 PM
Apple Continues Its “Google Cleansing” by Removing YouTube App in iOS 6 Beta 4
August 6, 2012, 3:02 PM
Amazon Increases Prime Subscription to $99/year Starting March 19
March 13, 2014, 8:23 AM
Bitcoin King's American Accounts Get Frozen
March 13, 2014, 3:00 AM
Time Warner Cable CEO Says Merger with Comcast is a "Dream Combination", Will Increase Innovation
March 12, 2014, 2:37 PM
North Carolina-based Company to Offer Gigabit Internet Before Google
March 12, 2014, 2:31 PM
Tim Berners-Lee Talks Free and Open Web on Its 25th Birthday
March 12, 2014, 9:33 AM
"Bitcoin COO" Explains Bitcoin to Conan O'Brien in Layman's Terms
March 11, 2014, 9:53 AM
Most Popular Articles
Bitcoin King Pt. II: Mt. Gox's Dictator Karpelès Proves Tragically Flawed
March 7, 2014, 1:12 PM
Windows 8.1 Update 1 Leaked Early
March 7, 2014, 9:30 AM
Hack Reveals Fallen Bitcoin CEO's Posh Tokyo Penthouse
March 10, 2014, 4:28 PM
Vine Users No Longer Allowed to Post Pornographic Videos
March 7, 2014, 1:47 PM
Staples Closing 225 Stores Across North America
March 7, 2014, 1:24 PM
Latest Blog Posts
Tesla vs. BMW: Who Has the Safer EV?
Feb 1, 2014, 2:56 PM
Justice Leaks Details of Next HTC One Two Flagship Phone
Dec 5, 2013, 4:04 PM
Global Cyber Espionage Concerns Reveal Growing Cyber Armies
Nov 29, 2013, 11:04 AM
Is The Period Becoming an Expression of Anger?
Nov 26, 2013, 2:02 PM
NSA and Congress -- You Will Never Kill the Constitution, It's an Idea
Nov 10, 2013, 2:00 PM
More Blog Posts
Copyright 2014 DailyTech LLC. -
Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information