Is there something going on in the world of web browsers that we don’t know about? Has WebKit developed an awful affliction that all the major players want to be shot of? Because that’s what it starting to look like as Samsung and Mozilla have announced that they’re working on their own browser engine that runs on Android and now Google have announced that they’ll be forking WebKit. Currently, Chrome is powered by their own engine heavily based around Apple’s Open Source WebKit but, not they’re announcing that they are to fork WebKit and create something new, “Blink”.
At first, the new engine will be a lot like the old WebKit engine we all know and love right now but, as time goes on, Google will strip more and more code out of it to suit their own needs and/or as they fit. It was first announced on the Chromium blog that this was happening and as they noted in their announcement, having multiple rendering engines across the web can cause problems. Do you remember the days where people would target for IE6 and that’d break things for everyone else? Thankfully, those days are pretty much behind us and the Chromium team should be able to build an engine that maintains compatibility across the board. Fragmentation with this new engine shouldn’t be too much of a problem as Opera have also announced that they’ll be using Blink instead of their “Presto” engine.
While we’re sure it’s just coincidence it does seem a little strange that Google have announced this the day after Samsung announces that they’ve partnered with Mozilla to make their own engine. It’s unclear as to whether or not this new engine from Google will make the jump to mobile but, it’s a safe bet as they’ve announced that it’ll be powering both Chrome and Chrome OS.
Overall, this seems like a good move from Google, they need to keep things moving and they need to have a little more control over the engine that’s running Chrome, as the browser gets more and more advanced and the Android version catches up, it’s going to be a lot easier for them to push forward with development if they don’t have to keep patching up an engine that’s not purpose-built for their needs.