05 April 2013

Chromium Blog: “Blink: A rendering engine for the Chromium project”

However, Chromium uses a different multi-process architecture 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 - so today, we are introducing Blink, a new open source rendering engine based on WebKit.

This was not an easy decision. 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. Adam Barth

A big move by , but don’t let the ‘open’-rhetoric fool you: this was is as much about politics and business decisions as it is about technology. In a way, this is Google’s reaction to being slowly, but surely excluded from iOS. As before with Maps, there are already reports discarding the stated reason for the break-up, the growing problems with integrating a multi-process architecture into WebKit:

As long as we are recapitulating history - the main reason we built a new multiprocess architecture is that Chromium's multiprocess support was never contributed to the WebKit project. It has always lived in the separate Chromium tree, making it pretty hard to use for non-Chrome purposes.

Before we wrote a single line of what would become WebKit2 we directly asked Google folks if they would be willing to contribute their multiprocess support back to WebKit, so that we could build on it. They said no. Maciej Stachowiak

Increased competition should be great – at least for the public, if less for developers who will again have a new rendering engine to adapt to. On the other hand, breaking up the ‘WebKit monoculture’ on mobile devices could have some unintended consequences: with less incentive to use –webkit-only properties, developers will favor prefix-less, standard features, which could allow other browsers – specifically IE and Windows Phone – to gain some much-needed attention. But there is nothing preventing Google from introducing their own proprietary extensions, specific for Chromebooks and Android phones – all in the interest of innovation, of course! One thing is fairly certain: with the team focusing on making Chrome for Android the best possible mobile browser, it won’t be long before the iOS version will appear on a ‘spring cleaning’ list. Interestingly, seems to have known about these plans beforehand as they made their decision to switch to Chromium/Blink:

It’s great to be able to talk publicly about Blink, the new engine that will power Opera’s browsers (disclosure: my employer, but this is a personal post) and Chrome henceforth. 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. Bruce Lawson

And to wrap things up, be sure to read the translation from bullshit to English of the Blink developer FAQ:

We have a direct strategic interest in destroying Apple's mobile platforms because their lack of participation in our advertising and social ecosystems does not benefit our long term goals. You should expect Chrome and Blink changes in the short term to be focused in this direction.

In the longer term, we aim to have sufficient control over the installed base of web browsers to dictate whatever conditions we consider most appropriate to our business goals at the time. Rob Isaac

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