April 4, 2013 TXAD

You may or may not notice this, but…

The browser you’re using right now is running one of a few different rendering engines. Internet Explorer uses Trident, Firefox uses Gecko, and the majority of other browsers use Webkit. You’ll find Webkit in Safari, Chrome, and the default browsers of all iOS and Android devices. So why am I talking about browser rendering engines?

It is the job of a web designer/developer to make sure their website gives the same experience across all browsers, if feasibly possible. Some style elements, especially if they’re from CSS3, might require being called out multiple times under different names (ex. rounded corners or gradients), or else they will appear correct in one browser and not the other, or they might not appear at all. There used to be a time when all this stuff was standardized, but it seems that as soon as it appears that we’re getting there, we get hit with a “fork” in the road.

Webkit is an open-source project that has been a collaborative effort by Adobe, Apple, Google and a few other contributors. Yesterday, Google announced that it’s going to fork Webkit and use it as a platform for it’s new rendering engine, called Blink. A project “fork” happens when taking a copy of source code from one software package to start independent development on it, creating a distinct piece of software. Google claims that the reason behind the switch is the fact that WebKit has grown too complicated, and making the switch to its own rendering engine will benefit projects such as the Chrome browser and Chrome OS. They also say they can eliminate some 4.5 million lines of code from Webkit when developing Blink. This will make the Chrome browser faster, and mobile devices should benefit from this the most. Another web browser, Opera, is strongly considering making the switch, and Blink could have a host of it’s own contributors as well, as the project will also be open source. It seems as if Google and Apple are even further distancing themselves.

It remains to be seen whether this will directly affect web design or not. Technically, Blink should mainly be a streamlined version of Webkit, so things SHOULD hopefully remain the same…at least in the short run. We’ll find out for sure once Blink is released and implemented.