Developer

The great browser shake-up of 2013

In a jam-packed 24 hours, Google announces it is forking WebKit, and Samsung teams up with Mozilla to develop a new engine.

Just when you thought you knew what was happening in browser-land and were bracing for the upcoming WebKit hegemony — the browser outlook for web developers has changed drastically in the past day.

The biggest change, and the one that will likely be seen on a day-to-day basis first, is Google's announcement that is forking the WebKit engine that it currently uses for Chrome, and creating a new engine, initially based on WebKit, called Blink.

Google said that the split was a result of Chrome's different architecture compared to other WebKit based browsers, and the opportunity to implement its own performance improvements.

Justin Schuh, security engineer at Google, said that Google had been holding back on updates due to WebKit's design and the WebKit project's focus on WebKit2.

Opera has also announced that it, too, will be moving over from WebKit to Blink.

Thankfully, Blink will not have support for vendor prefixes beyond legacy -webkit prefixes.

Google has said that Blink is not "just a ruse" to get Dart or Native Client into the rendering engine.

Over at Mozilla yesterday, Mozilla's CTO Brendan Eich announced that the project was teaming up with Samsung to develop a new browser engine to take advantage of multicore architectures. The new engine is dubbed Servo, with Eich saying that it would be a rebuild from the ground-up to take advantage of massively parallel hardware. Servo is developed in Mozilla's Rust language.

Samsung comes into the Servo picture by porting Servo and Rust to Android and ARM architectures.

The adventurous who wish to try out either project can find the source at the Servo and Rust repositories.

What should web developers do in the face of these new rendering engines? The same thing they should have been doing all along: Writing browser-agnostic code that works across multiple platforms.

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Some would say that it is a long way from software engineering to journalism, others would correctly argue that it is a mere 10 metres according to the floor plan.During his first five years with CBS Interactive, Chris started his journalistic advent...

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