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Google Fork Webkit, Announce Project ‘Blink’ for Chrome

The Chromium team today announced a new rendering engine for the project called Blink.

As a fork of WebKit, Blink will still be mostly the same, bringing “little change for web developers” for the time being. So why fork a popular, ever-growing rendering engine?

Chromium uses a “multi-process architecture” to keep the browser from crashing when sites and plugins misbehave, but the differences between architectures across the growing number of WebKit-based browsers means slower turn around for new features to be implemented. With a leaner codebase and faster pace of development, the Chromium team hope to “spur innovation” in rendering engines much like the browser space has seen in recent years.

“Keeping the Chrome bits separate from Webkit bits was getting in the way of performance and security improvements.” – Jake Archibald

Though the short term will mostly be housekeeping to winnow the codebase, the longer term prospects of the project are promising. Amongst the slew of performance enhancements and lower-level cleanup is the removal of “webkit-” style prefixes. Blink will instead make use of the “enable experimental web platform features” flag for experimental CSS previously littering stylesheets alongside Mozilla and Opera-specific prefixes.

Whilst the Chromium project embark on a new rendering engine endeavour, Mozilla and Samsung have also announced a mobile-oriented rendering engine, and Opera recently announced their move to WebKit, and now thusly Blink, as well.

Whether or not these decisions influenced the other projects isn’t as important as the fact that the world of rendering engines is buzzing with activity.