Google unveils Blink: a new WebKit-based rendering engine for Chrome and Chrome OS

4 Apr 2013

Google has revealed that it will no longer use WebKit as the rendering engine for Chrome and Chrome OS and will instead use a forked version called Blink.

Adam Barth, a software engineer at Google, explained that because Chromium used a different multi-process architecture than other WebKit-based browsers and supported other architectures, too, this led to increased complexity.

As a result, this slowed down the collective pace of innovation.

To counter this, the internet giant decided to introduce Blink, a new open source rendering engine based on WebKit. Google has issued strong guidelines for new features that emphasise standards, interoperability, conformance testing and transparency.

“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.

“In the short term, Blink will bring little change for web developers. The bulk of the initial work will focus on internal architectural improvements and a simplification of the codebase. For example, we anticipate that we’ll be able to remove seven build systems and delete more than 7,000 files – comprising more than 4.5m lines – right off the bat. Over the long term a healthier codebase leads to more stability and fewer bugs.”

Barth said that throughout the transition Google will collaborate closely with other browser vendors to move the web forward and preserve the compatibility that made it a successful ecosystem.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years