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Google forks off WebKit with Blink browser engine

04 Apr 2013
Google Chrome logo

Google has unveiled plans to branch off its involvement in WebKit and develop the platform into a new browser engine.

The company said that it would be forking its work on WebKit to create Blink, a WebKit-based browser engine which will become the centrepiece of future versions of the Chrome browser.

Google said that the decision to build its own rendering engine was based in large part on the unique features of the Chrome browser and Chromium platform. In order to better power its browsers, Google said that it needs to strike out with a new project.

The company believes that it can dramatically reduce the footprint of the browser by trimming off unnecessary lines of code which it says could run into the millions in early cuts alone. Over the long term, Google believes Blink can result in a faster, more stable web browser.

The company said that for developers, the launch of the new engine will bring the opportunity to optimise the performance of web applications and operate in a more secure sandbox environment to limit the impact of vulnerabilities and potential exploits.

Since its introduction, WebKit has proven to be one of the most popular browser platforms in the world. In addition to Chrome, the open-source engine has served as the core for Apple's Safari browser.

Recently, V3 ranked WebKit among the Top 10 best open source projects on the web.

"This was not an easy decision. We know that the introduction of a new rendering engine can have significant implications for the web," Google software engineer Adam Barth said in a company blog post.

"Nevertheless, we believe that having multiple rendering engines — similar to having multiple browsers — will spur innovation and over time improve the health of the entire open web ecosystem."

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Shaun Nichols

Shaun Nichols is the US correspondent for He has been with the company since 2006, originally joining as a news intern at the site's San Francisco offices.

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