Google has announced that it will fork WebKit and transition to a new web rendering engine for Chrome, known as Blink.
Although WebKit is lightweight and powerful, Google's 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," Adam Barth, a Google software engineer, wrote in a blog post.
So Google has developed Blink, a new open-source rendering engine that's based on WebKit.
"This was not an easy decision," Barth wrote. "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."
WebKit is open-source layout engine that is used to render Web pages in Apple's Safari, Google's Chrome, and other Web browsers. It is also used in smartphones from Nokia, Apple, Google and others. WebKit was derived from the KHTML rendering engine used by the Konquerer browser in the Linux KDE desktop. In 2002, Apple modified KHTML and dubbed it WebKit.
In the short term, the introduction of Blink won't change much for developers, Barth said. "The bulk of the initial work will focus on internal architectural improvements and a simplification of the codebase," he wrote.
He promised to collaborate with browser makers to make the transition as painless as possible. "We've set strong guidelines for new features that emphasize standards, interoperability, conformance testing and transparency," Barth wrote.
The news comes about two months after Opera announced a "gradual transition" from its own Presto rendering engine to WebKit.
Earlier today, meanwhile, Mozilla announced that it is collaborating with Samsung on a new Web browser engine known as Servo, which Mozilla said "is an attempt to rebuild the Web browser from the ground up on modern hardware, rethinking old assumptions along the way."