Google forks WebKit with new open source rendering engine ‘Blink’

“WebKit is a lightweight yet powerful rendering engine that emerged out of KHTML in 2001. Its flexibility, performance and thoughtful design made it the obvious choice for Chromium’s rendering engine back when we started. Thanks to the hard work by all in the community, WebKit has thrived and kept pace with the web platform’s growing capabilities since then,” Adam Barth blogs for Google’s Chromium Blog.

“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.,” Barth writes. “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.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Our gut reaction: Somehow we doubt this will be truly “open source.” This initially strikes us as WebM: The Sequel. We’ll see how it pans out, but our gut reactions have a pretty good track record.

The basic gist? We imagine a behind-the-scenes Google meeting:

“Why are we allowing Apple and others to benefit from the shared and open work of the WebKit community when we can throw a monkey wrench into the whole shebang?”

“Yeah, jam a stick into the spokes… We’ll blame it on speed!” (Ha!) “The gullible, naturally, will buy right into the claim of speed improvements, so this project will be relatively easy to implement. A few will squalk, but most won’t even realize what just happened.”

“Yup, the party line will be ‘our solution is better in all ways’ when all we’re really trying to do is fragment the Web. If we get to even 5% of Android fragmentation levels, we’ll have done our job well!” (laughs)

“Compatibility, schmatibility!” (guffaws all around)

“Of course, in all seriousness, we’ll slip in the proprietary stuff later. Nothing stops us from doing that. ‘Blink’ and it’s all over!”

“Hey, do no evil!” (laughs) All: “Yeah, do know evil!” (big, big laughs from all; good times)

“Once we muck up everything, Apple’s unwillingness to allow us to monopolize the mobile advertising business the way we monopolize advertising on the desktop may weaken.”

“Using Web devs to do our bidding to benefit our business under the guise of bastardized “open source” is genius! Even the old Gates’ Microsoft couldn’t have done better!”

Related articles:
Opera announces transition to WebKit, Chromium – February 13, 2013
Happy 10th birthday Safari! Thanks for changing everything – January 17, 2013
Samsung preps mobile browser based on Apple’s WebKit – September 25, 2012
Guess who is WebKit’s new best friend – August 30, 2011
RIM demos new WebKit-based Web browser for BlackBerry (with video) – February 16, 2010


  1. Kind of agree with the MDN take, albeit a bit colorful. It was great to have 2 major browsers from the two most important tech companies sharing the same core engine. Now Opera is on board too. Excellent. What better way to stick it to IE and make Fire Fox feel clunky? Well, now Google is seems to be ruining that. I imagine they will be the same or very similar from a browser compatibility perspective for some time, but will they not start to diverge fairly quickly?
    I kind of feel like it is the end of an era.

    1. If you think Google’s strategic decisions are made from a programmer’s priorities instead of the accountants and advertising development priorities, you must be a programmer who isn’t paying attention to how the world works.

  2. Ahhh how cute Google named their new engine after the unit of time it takes them from pretending to be a partner to the time it takes for them to stick a knife in your back.

  3. When has fragmentation helped anyone? This is unix all over again. Microsoft did prove one very valuable lesson that all tech companies just need to get in their heads — a homogeneous environment sells, a lot. I am all for innovation, but splintering up a core bit of the web, like the rendering engine that most browsers are now supporting, is a stupid mistake that had better backfire.

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