WebKit is a lightweight yet powerful rendering engine that emerged out of KHTML in 2001. Its flexibility, performance and thoughtful design made it the obvious choice for Chromium's rendering engine back when we started. Thanks to the hard work by all in the community, WebKit has thrived and kept pace with the web platform’s growing capabilities since then.
However, 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. This has slowed down the collective pace of innovation - so today, we are introducing Blink, a new open source rendering engine based on WebKit.
This was not an easy decision. We know that the introduction of a new rendering engine can have significant implications for the web. 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.
The Khronos Group has finally put its stamp on the WebGL 1.0 spec, and that's good news for those of you running Firefox, Opera, Chrome, Safari, and any other up-to-date WebKit browsers. If you're an Internet Explorer user, however, you're still not invited to the party.
Microsoft, with IE9 only being available for Windows Vista and 7, is perfectly content with IE9's DirectX-based hardware acceleration. It will be interesting to see what happens with the mobile version of IE9, too -- if HTML5 and WebGL apps take off, Microsoft (and Nokia) will want to support them.
Mozilla's Jay Sullivan doesn't appear worried though, saying "Between Firefox and Chrome, people will build stuff." You can, of course, add WebGL support to Internet Explorer yourself -- by installing Google Chrome Frame, though admittedly that brings a whole lot more functionality than browser-based 3D.
WebKit2, rather than being a whole new rendering engine, is a layer around WebKit that adds more stability, security and speed -- not entirely unlike the Google Chrome sandbox, which is also strapped onto a version of WebKit. The most exciting feature of WebKit2 is that it splits the browser UI and the rendered content into separate processes. It's possible that each tab will have its own process, too, like Chrome.
This is the first solid news of a Safari update since the minor revisions of desktop and iOS versions back in November. It also represents a major change for the browser, so we wouldn't be surprised if it is Safari 6, rather than 5, that ships with OS X Lion.
Today, we test five most popular web browsers to find out, who leads and who lags in the HTML5 Benchmark.
Internet Explorer 8
Internet Explorer 9
Google Chrome 7
Google Chrome 8
Higher is better. Maximum score: 377 points.
Internet Explorer 8 – 32
Internet Explorer 9 Beta – 80
Firefox 3.6.10 – 145
Firefox 4 Beta 6 – 235
Google Chrome 7.0.517.41 – 248
Google Chrome 8.0.552.11 Beta – 262
Opera 11 Alpha – 223
Opera 10.63 – 203
Safari 5.0.2 – 178
WebKit r70433 – 196
As per our test, Google Chrome 8 takes the lead, followed by Google Chrome 7 and Firefox 4 Beta 6.
Unfortunately for Internet Explorer 9 and 8, they are in the bottom, followed by Firefox 3.6 and Safari 5.
Thanks to Nox for the tip.
If you've made the switch from Firefox to Chrome and count AdBlock among your must-have extensions, there's one gripe you probably had. Unlike its Firefox or Safari cousins, AdBlock for Chrome wasn't actually able to prevent ads from downloading. As developer Mike Gundlach told The Reg, " We've been having to hide the ads after downloading them or add CSS rules that say 'don't show these ads' even though they're downloading."
That's changed, however, thanks to some recent code updates. AdBlock can now act premptively, saving you precious kilobytes (and possibly some additional frustration). As it turns out, it's Apple who is responsible for the change: the beforeload event was actually slipped in during a recent update to the Webkit engine, which eventually made its way into Chrome.
Apart from AdBlock, this should be good news for Chrome users in general as it provides an important content manipulation function.
WebKit, the rendering engine used by both Chrome and Safari, is currently undergoing major redevelopment in order to support per-tab processes and out-of-process plug-ins by default. In one smooth move, Apple will be able to bring Chrome-like speed and security to its Safari browser.
Don't be fooled by its rather grand-sounding name of "WebKit2," however. This is more of an update than an upgrade. Basically, WebKit is being split into UI Processes and Web Processes. Each tab will become a UI Process, and presumably, so will add-ons and extensions. This change will bring the usual benefits of stability, security, and speed-ups from multi-core processors. WebKit2 will also implement a non-blocking API that is "mostly platform agnostic," resulting in a more flexible browser and better cross-platform extension compatibility.
The new WebKit2 will operate a lot like Chrome does today, only in theory, faster. With the split-process logic injected at a much lower level, it wouldn't be a surprise to see Safari out-perform Chrome. It will be quite interesting to see whether Google moves to support WebKit2, or indeed builds it into their browser.
I can't help wonder why Google implemented the split-process logic in Chrome, rather than being the major exponent of WebKit2, though. A competitive edge doesn't make much sense when it's all open-source anyway.
The WebKit2 patches are due to hit at any moment now, but I don't know when we'll see a version of Safari -- or indeed, Chrome -- running the new layout engine.