Blink - More Answers
Written by Mike James   
Friday, 05 April 2013

The decision by Google to change from WebKit to a new rendering engine has stirred up more interest and concern than might have been predicted. Now the Google Chrome Developer team has issued a video answering some of the outstanding questions.

At first Blink isn't going to make much difference because it takes time for a fork in a project to develop. At the moment the main change seems to be the removal of code from Blink that wasn't being used in Chrome. The WebKit developers also seem slightly relieved to have Google check out its code because they are also reporting large savings by throwing out the code that they had to put up with to keep Chrome happy. Both sides of the split are promising efficiency and speed increases in the very near future, making it sound as if each was holding the other back from doing the best job that they could. 




The video answers some of the questions but notice that all that is happening here is that we can gauge some measure of intent. What actually happens remains to be seen. 



The most important things to know are that Blink will replace WebKit in Chrome 28, which is due in about 10 weeks. Again this doesn't mean much more than changing the name of the rendering engine - how much the code changes remains to be seen. It is also clear that Blink is going to be used in all versions of Chrome on all platforms, but there isn''t any information about what will happen to Chrome on iOS. However, in a comment to the video Googler David Michael adds:

"One minor correction: Darin said that Chrome will use Blink on all platforms. Chrome on iOS will still use a UIWebView (which is based on Apple's WebKit) rather than Blink."

So it looks as if there will be one member of the Chrome family that uses WebKit. 

As to promised changes - moving the DOM into the JavaScript engine seems to make good sense, but it could be the biggest source of incompatibilities in the future. 

The Chrome Developers blog also provides a list of questions with time code links to the video that you can use to zoom in on anything you are particularly interested in:

1:12 What will be the relationship between the WebKit and Blink codebases going forward? 

2:42 When will Blink ship on the Chrome channels Canary/Beta/Stable?

3:25 How does the plan for transitioning the WebKit integrated in Android to Blink look like?

4:59 Can you elaborate on the idea of moving the DOM into JavaScript?

6:40 Can you elaborate on the idea of "removing obscure parts of the DOM and make backwards incompatible changes that benefit performance or remove complexity"?

8:35 How will Blink responsibly deprecate prefixed CSS properties?

9:30 What will prevent the same collaborative development difficulties that have hampered Webkit emerging in Blink, as it gains more contributors and is ported to more platforms?

12:35 Will changes to Blink be contributed back to the WebKit project?

13:34 Google said problems living with the WebKit2 multi-process model was a prime reason to create Blink, but Apple engineers say they asked to integrate Chromium's multi-process into WebKit prior to creating WebKit2, and were refused. What gives?

16:46 Is the plan to shift Android's <webview> implementation over to Blink as well?

17:26 Will blink be able to support multiple scripting languages? E.g. Dart.

19:34 How will affect other browsers that have adopted WebKit?

20:44 Does this means Google stops contributions to WebKit?

21:31 What Open Source license will Blink have? Will it continue to support the H.264 video codec?
22:11 Any user-agent string changes? 

23:38 When we'll be able to test first versions of Blink in Chromium?

24:15 How can developers follow Blink's development?

25:40 What is about?

26:40 How will this impact Dart language's progress?

27:13 Will this be a direct competitor against Mozilla's new engine? 

29:03 When will all existing vendor prefixes in Blink be phased out?

30:20 Will you support -blink-text-decoration: blink? ;)



More Information

Blink: A rendering engine for the Chromium project

Blink Developer FAQ.

Blink Project

Related Articles

Browser Split - Google And Opera Fork WebKit To Blink

Mozilla Builds Servo A New Browser Engine

Who Is Building WebKit?       

Opera Moving to WebKit       

When Open Source Attacks  


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Last Updated ( Friday, 05 April 2013 )