Google to fork WebKit into its own browser engine


— 2:39 PM on April 4, 2013

While Apple and Google have severed many of their connections lately, the two companies have maintained an active collaboration on one project: WebKit, the open-source rendering engine that powers Chrome, Safari, and countless other browsers. That collaboration may now be at an end, however. Google has announced that it's going to fork WebKit into Blink, a new rendering engine better tailored to Chrome's design.

"Chromium [the open-source version of Chrome] uses a different multi-process architecture than other WebKit-based browsers," explains Google. "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." The introduction of Blink, Google goes on to say, "will spur innovation and over time improve the health of the entire open web ecosystem."

Google adds that, since the transition from WebKit to Blink will happen mostly behind the scenes at first, web developers shouldn't expect any dramatic changes. Nevertheless, the company expects to streamline Blink's code base by lopping off over 4.5 million lines of WebKit code. That move, it says, will improve the reliability and stability of the new rendering engine, since there will be less code to maintain.

More information about Blink is available here. It's not clear when the first Blink-powered build of Chrome will be released for public consumption, though. Considering the browser has a speedy, six-week release cycle, I'd expect Blink to premiere sooner rather than later.

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