WebKit is a lightweight yet powerful rendering engine that emerged out of KHTML in 2001. Its flexibility, performance and thoughtful design made it the obvious choice for Chromium’s rendering engine back when we started. Thanks to the hard work by all in the community, WebKit has thrived and kept pace with the web platform’s growing capabilities since then.
However, 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. This has slowed down the collective pace of innovation – so today, we are introducing Blink, a new open source rendering engine based on WebKit.
Opera is also switching to Blink instead of WebKit. This is a curious move, and I’ll assume that it’s because someone wanted control over a project that they weren’t getting through WebKit’s gated commit process.
Regardless of what you think about the move (and I think I heard a noise like the sound of millions of designers rolling their eyes this afternoon), at least they are going about it the right way: forking on existing open source project and creating a new open source project of their own.
Who knows? Maybe this will spur some additional innovation with existing rendering engines to keep up with whatever improvements the Blink team makes.
And staying with open source means that if Google capriciously decides to change renderers again, it’s highly likely that Blink and Chromium won’t just die on the vine—though it appears that Chromium’s licensing is significantly more complex than WebKit’s.