Welcoming Blink, Chromium’s new open source rendering engine

Published on in Blink, Google Chrome, tech, WebKit.

There have been some interesting movements in the browser landscape lately: Opera moving away from Presto, Chromium for Android and Firefox Mobile making a stronger stand on mobile platforms. Web Platform has less fragmentation right now than it ever had before. Today, the Chromium project introduced Blink: a new open source rendering engine based on WebKit.

I’ve been a contributor to the WebKit project for a few years now, written hundreds of updates about the project and even published dozens of those on the official weblog, Surfin’ Safari. It’s a great community, one that I’m very proud to be a member of. Working on WebKit introduced me to a great amount of people and taught me an incredible amount of things.

To improve the open web through technical innovation and good citizenship.
A few weeks ago, Max Heinritz introduced the new Chromium Feature Dashboard, listing not just the implementation status, but also the maturity, interoperability and testability of Web Platform features in Chromium. With Blink, Chrome is taking this one step further and are introducing strict guidelines new features have to adhere to.

To fulfill our good citizenship mission, we need to be careful to add new features to the web platform in a transparent, responsible, and compatible manner. We measure success as moving the open web platform forward as a whole, not just as moving one implementation forward.

I’m both positively surprised by and very confident in the way that Google’s Web superstars (Alex, Dimitri, Paul, Eric and many others) are making this happen. Google projects, including Dart, NaCL and others, are subject to the same guidelines in introducing their changes to the Web Platform as any other participant, including our very strong preference for standardization and compatibility with other browser vendors.

Compatibility risk will be one of the most important decision criteria for enabling new web platform features for the new engine. A launch process has been introduced for new features which touch the Web Platform, which includes several public announcements and reviewing steps. This is not just limited to Googlers: whilst getting commit rights for Blink is similar to the Chromium project, there is a fast track available for WebKit contributors. I’m also very hopeful that we’ll soon be welcoming the first non-Google OWNER to the project as well.

I’m a Web Developer. Thank you for making my life even more complicated!
Paul Irish asked a question about a month ago: what is WebKit? WebKit implementations are not homogenous: they differ in anything from the code used for downloading resources to the mechanism used to display pages, as well as in supported set of features. Chromium, Safari and other implementations of WebKit should already have been considered as separate testing targets.

All browsers’ latest versions are absolutely excellent from a technical perspective. With Ian Hickson’s HTML parsing algorithm and all the rendering engines coming increasingly close to passing the entire CSS 2.1 test-suite, we’re almost at a point where the true foundations of layout on the Web are both standardized and interoperable between implementations. The Chromium project now intends to take this further by working with the W3C to make sure both conformance tests and the testing infrastructure can be shared between different browsers.

Another area which I’m very excited about is that Blink will be following Mozilla’s ideas in regards to vendor prefixes. While support for legacy WebKit vendor prefixes will be maintained in the short term, Blink will strive to avoid shipping vendor prefixed features to the Stable channel altogether.

The end of the Last Week in WebKit articles?
I’ve published 114 articles describing changes in the WebKit and Chromium repositories that occurred in the week before. I do still intend to continue doing so, however, they will address Blink changes instead of WebKit’s. I won’t be posting updates to the Surfin’ Safari anymore, although I am definitely grateful I had the chance of doing so for a number of months.

Personally, I’m really excited about this change. The scale of the Web Platform asks for an ecosystem which doesn’t just welcome participation and collaboration, but also has a fair and healthy amount of competition. Jake made a great analogy about Blink’s potential in the near future: Blink can do for layout and rendering what V8 did for JavaScript, although the improvements will be more gradual.

I’m confident that Chromium can use Blink to increase diversity, while driving innovation, as it has shown to be capable of in the past. For more background on the why, I encourage you to read Alex Russell’s great post on the announcement of Blink. Justin also sheds some light on the security implications of this change, and Paul Lewis also shared some nice insights.

4 Responses to “Welcoming Blink, Chromium’s new open source rendering engine”

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Will

April 4, 2013 at 4:06 pm

I liked this article.

When will Blink first replace WebKit in Chrome?


Sindre

June 19, 2013 at 8:38 am

Peter,

Thanks for all the interesting posts about the progress of webkit. Would you ever consider publishing something like this for Blink now instead. I always looked forward to your posts, and it’s just not as fun to read through the webkit commit-history every day..

Anyhow, thanks again :)