Rendering Engines are designed to allow web browsers to render web pages. Every browser is backed by a rendering engine to draw the HTML/CSS web page and each browser uses a different version:
- Internet Explorer (IE) uses Trident
- Firefox/Seamonkey use Gecko
- Safari/Chrome/Opera use WebKit
As a layout engine software, WebKit powers Apple’s Safari web browser, Opera (briefly – as it will also move to Blink) and it’s also used to power Chrome and the Android default browser. In November 2012, Webkit had the most market share of any layout engine, with over 40% of the browser market.
With Google Chrome announcing their intention to progress away from the WebKit rendering engine through forking it and building their own rendering engine called Blink, the first thought many web users will have is what impact will this have on me?
For now, thankfully, it doesn’t seem as though there will be too much of an effect and users will be able to carry on surfing without the need to do anything.
Of course, if there isn’t going to be that much of an impact, you could ask, “What’s the point?” There are reasons why forking WebKit and the creation of Blink will bring benefits, and a large number of them relate to the changing nature of how we access the internet.
The official line from Google surrounding the development of Blink centres on their belief that WebKit is now far too complicated and that creating a new rendering engine will bring benefits. Google expect its own projects like the Chrome browser and even the Chrome OS to be improved by the use of Blink.
The research carried out by Google suggests that they can remove 7 build systems and they will be able to remove in excess of 7,000 files in comparison to WebKit. With this coming in at around 4.5 million lines of code, it is easy to see how this can be of benefit in respect of security, speed and the stability on offer.
Blink cannot be too innovative
While Google will undoubtedly add new elements and features to Blink, there is not a lot to be gained by being wholly innovative. The modern era of multi-platform devices ensures that creating an incompatible rendering engine would cause more problems and issues in the long run. Therefore, there is not going to be too much out of the ordinary but it should be seen that Blink is reacting to the different ways that we access the internet.
WebKit comes from the era when the PC was king and this is where Google are looking to make a change. Smartphones and tablets are now just as accepted as laptops and PCs for internet access and mobile device usage is only going to become more popular in the months and years to come.
Effectiveness and efficiency is always vital
Apple have consistently updated and upgraded projects to meet new devices and demands but if Google are confident that they can scrap over 4 million code lines, they must be confident of doing so without any negative impact.
It may be that a high powered PC is not affected by so much dead-weight code but in the increasing battle to have more powerful, faster and stronger devices that take up a smaller and leaner space, a more efficient rendering engine will always be of benefit. Google Blink may become another strong component in the ever-changing mobile technology race.
Of course, if Blink is deemed better than WebKit, it will also become another asset for Chrome OS, Chrome and Android in the ever-engaging battle between Apple and Google.