After nearly twelve years, Google has decided to bid adieu to the WebKit rendering engine, which it employed in its Chromium open source browser project. Google's popular web browser, Chrome is based on the Chromium project. Chromium will now use Blink, a new open source rendering engine based on WebKit, which will be supported and updated by Google.
It's worth pointing out that Apple's Safari browser also uses the WebKit rendering engine. Earlier this year, Opera, which used to have the Presto rendering engine also announced its move to WebKit. Interestingly, Bruce Lawson from Opera disclosed
that Opera's new browsers will also be based on Blink.
Google announced the move via a blog post
on the Chromium blog. Adam Barth, a Software Engineer working with the project elaborated that Chromium used a different multi-process architecture than other WebKit-based browsers. He said that supporting multiple architectures over the years had led to increasing complexity for both the WebKit and Chromium projects, slowing down the collective pace of innovation.
Barth further said that while the introduction of a new rendering engine can have significant implications for the web, Google felt 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.
Not much will change for developers in the short-term as the bulk of the initial work of the Blink team will focus on internal architectural improvements and a simplification of the codebase. As the engine matures, it would continue to move away from WebKit and web developers will need to test their work separately for browsers powered by Blink.
However, it is likely that Chrome for iOS will continue to be based on WebKit, since Apple doesn't allow iOS browsers that choose any rendering engine but WebKit.