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Late, yesterday the Internet was buzzing about Google’s announcement of Blink. Blink is a new rendering engine for Chrome and Opera. Let’s explore what’s going on.

What is Blink?

Blink is Google’s fork from WebKit. It’s a rendering engine that interprets CSS and JavaScript. Forking from WebKit means that it’s intended to go a different direction with the engine that has it’s own goals and potentially feature sets.

Why fork WebKit?

WebKit is open source and this tends to happen from time to time. Mozilla spawned as a fork from Netscape Navigator. WebKit began as a fork of the KHTML and KJS libraries from KDE. In open source you work together on a project as much as possible but if there is a difference in opinions then that can spawn a fork and a new direction. There isn’t anything wrong with that; it’s just how open-source was meant to function.

Google decided to start a new fork due to the lack of progress in the WebKit project. The WebKit project stagnated due to the rendering engine being tied into implementation details of only one platform, unfortunately there are many more platforms out there and it continues to grow, especially when you consider the mobile market.

“Chromium uses a different multi-process architecture than other WebKit-based browsers, and supporting multiple architectures over the years has led to increasing complexity for both the WebKit and Chromium projects.”

How does Blink effect web development?

In the short-term, nothing will change. Blink will be built on top of Chromium, the open-source counterpart to Google Chrome. Opera has stated that it will start to use Chromium as of version 14. Chrome 28 will be the first stable release to use Blink.

Blink is taking a different approach to vendor prefixes, which will mirror Firefox’s. Instead of vendor prefixes it will use flags. To enable an experimental CSS feature you’ll need to go to about:flags and turn the feature on. The existing –webkit- prefixes will still come over, only new features will be turned on via a flag.

Conclusion

Some are skeptical that this will be good for the open web. Others think this is a great move as it moves the open web forward again where it has stalled. It’s too early to tell but so far looking at history these decisions seem to help more than hinder.

More information:

What do you think?