Does WebKit face a troubled future now that Google has gone on the Blink?

“Now that Google is going its own way and developing its rendering engine independently of the WebKit project, both sides of the split are starting the work of removing all the things they don’t actually need,” Peter Bright writes for Ars Technica.

“This is already causing some tensions among WebKit users and Web developers, as it could lead to the removal of technology that they use or technology that is in the process of being standardized,” Bright writes. “This is leading some to question whether Apple is willing or able to fill in the gaps that Google has left.”

Bright writes, “Google said that the decision to fork was driven by engineering concerns and that forking would enable faster development by both sides. That work is already under way, and both teams are now preparing to rip all these unnecessary bits out. Right now, it looks like Google has it easier… Apple’s position is much trickier, because many other projects use WebKit, and no one person knows which features are demanded by which projects.”

Read more in the full article here.

Related articles:
Google forks WebKit with new open source rendering engine ‘Blink’ – April 4, 2013

26 Comments

  1. Gave Chrome on the desktop a try. Didn’t like it, uninstalled it. Firefox is my backup browser. Safari is my main browser when on a Mac. When I was on Windows, Firefox was my primary browser. Never really liked Chrome on Windows or OS X. Hate IE even more.

    Downloaded Chrome for iOS. Played with it for a week. Didn’t like it, uninstalled it.

    The only thing I liked about Chrome for iOS was the pop-up menu when you touched a hyperlink. Safari’s pop up has been somewhat spotty lately after the introduction of the iPad mini. I suspect Apple has made it less touch sensitive due to the lack of bezel on the iPad mini. It sucks that it’s so imprecise now on the full size iPad.

    1. Good points.
      I have not experienced the sensitivity adjustment made regarding iPad / mini. And wouldn’t see why Apple would do so. Perhaps it was unintentional.

      If the hot-zone was resized for mini and code generated so that both devices work about the same… lets hope Apple improves this.

  2. Awww: “Samsung, for example, is using WebKit with V8. But with Google’s fork decision, there’s now nobody maintaining the code that glues V8 to WebCore.”

    I think it’s funny that the author considers Google to be a stronger partner for the project. Google Reader?

      1. Come-on! Isn’t that the definition of the word “corporation?”

        Why so surprised.

        Companies only beg to do poorly when what benefits them no longer benefits the consumer.

  3. I think this will adversely affect Safari, but I can see why Google did this. Apparently the code was getting a bit tedious supporting hooks for Chrome and Safari (and others). Now Google and optimize and bake V8 right into the rendering engine.
    Now Apple has to figure out what to do. They should branch too and optimize for Safari.
    Or test the validity of Blink being truly open source (as Google claims) and adopt Blink+V8 for Safari.

    1. I’m a bit cynical of Google. In the olden days, before Google, Microsoft was known for pursuing an agenda of “embrace, extend, extinguish” wherein they would first embrace a standard that held promise for cross-platform compatibility, then extend it and use market dominance to make their version the de facto standard, and then they extinguish the cross-platform capability by dropping support for those important elements.

      Google’s move here is explainable but feels like an attempt to hurt Apple (or is the target Facebook Home?).

      1. The fact that the Google sat on Apples board and Andy Rubin worked for Apple as a engineer for the mobile development team… GOOGLE more than hurt Apple, Google raped it.

      2. In my opinion, Google is an opportunist that is screwing around with a healthy standard. Apple did us a great favor by developing and promoting WebKit and making it available to everyone. We all benefitted from fast, compatible browser options with reliable and consistent rendering performance. It was a little like the early, simple days of HtML.

        Now Google wants to “fork” development and go its own way. There is only one reason for Google to do that – to change the playing field to benefit Google and enable them to gather and track more data. The last time that this happened back in the 1990s, it was Microsoft manufacturing their own markups. That screwed up the WWW for years. In fact, that legacy still lingers in my organization along with Flash and Silverlight. It takes a lot of time to heal things after they are poisoned. Don’t support Google in its efforts to poison the Internet with its proprietary, data-thieving crap.

  4. There are a lot of companies that have invested into WebKit. Blink is just another example of Google going its own way. I expressed concern that this split would negatively affect WebKit, as well, but from what I since learned, improvements made to Blink will feed back into WebCore and JavaScriptCore, both foundation of components of WebKit and Blink. So it’s not a complete separation of the two projects, just at the higher levels. The lower levels are still shared.

    Read more here under Architectural Changes:
    http://www.chromium.org/blink

  5. Both Firefox (its Microsoft funded) and Chrome shall never be welcomed on my Apple desktop again. Gone pure Safari as on my iDevices.

    Blink – what is it… a shell and stolen code from WebKit?
    Like Android where stolen code came from Oracle etc.
    Like the MWeb codec a derivative of the Mpeg4 codec.

    Google is a thief – rather than look and strike deals in licensing; their efforts go into spending time seeking loopholes that may pass without legal notice. They love taking risks to save money – or – maybe just don’t have the man power of skilled programer the public thinks.

    As for Apple filling the gaps of Google retirement from WebKit… damn right they will. Already started with Maps. And though Apple got bad press for Maps… it really was not all that bad for first public showing. Google Maps still has many flaws. And honestly street view is very useful to me. Yet Apple plans to have Store View… perhaps this is to deal with items located inside a store LINKED from their Maps. Or, perhaps it’s similar to StreetView just named differently.

    Remember, Apple partnered with Google to get YouTube / Maps / such on iOS. Apple partnered and advised Google to encode in MP4 video for the web. In that partnership – there must be some IP that are Apples. So Apple can carry on if needed.

  6. Perhaps the decision of Google abandoning WebKit is more then desires to change – rather – legal pressures.

    Careful here, WebKit is not on the BLINK,
    It’s Google on the run.

    If Google thinks it can develop a new standard this LATE in the GAME — try it — go ahead and good luck. And it’s about time they do their own.

  7. It is the mobile space which is important, not desktop. In the mobile space Google has the handset volume, but all the dollars are in Safari and therefore that is where the developer focus will remain. This is a risk for Google: if Apple and Google’s platforms diverge significantly, developers will drop, or at least deprioritise, the Google platform.

    1. Google has no handset volume… its far behind Samsung – in fact Google commissions Samsung to make their devices.

      Bang on with Safari… Huge risk for Google to go its own way. It would need to comply to WebKit someway or other – unless Google plans to redesign the entire web experience and create HTML10? I think this decision is more a legal decision before they are caught.

          1. That’s demonstrably not true. iOS has never had majority handset market share, since until recently, most handsets were not considered “smart phones”. Moreover, Apple’s refusal to accept lower profit margins in the face of the Samsung Galaxy onslaught resulted in Apple ceding the elite smartphone market share segment long ago.

            Until Cook & Co. get off their asses and offer a family of iPhones at multiple price points, then copycats from all directions will eat away at iPhone market share over time — all they need to do is offer one or two compelling or “superior” specs at a lower price, and the world will be flocking over to them. That is why Samsung continues to do well, and Apple’s lack of new hardware releases and complete silence on future innovation is reflected in AAPL stock price.

            1. Apple is winning, number one phone, iPhone 5
              3rd iPhone 4S 4th iPhone 3s 5th iPhone 3…

              Are you counting all those barely functional cheapo smartphones?

            2. Actually, while Android likely has slowed the rate of growth of the iPhone, its has never to date actually lowered the markets share, which has been steadily creeping up over the life of the platform since 2007.

  8. There seems to be an implicit assumption here that Google will go it alone and everyone else will stay with WebKit. I see nothing in the announcement that would prevent some WebKit developers (like Samsung) from following the Blink fork, if that works for them.

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