Google and Opera move to new rendering engine Blink

Martin Brinkmann
Apr 4, 2013
Updated • Apr 4, 2013
Google Chrome

Mozilla yesterday announced that it entered a partnership with Samsung to develop a new rendering engine called Servo and if that was not enough excitement already for the technical inclined, Google and Opera too announced that they would be replacing WebKit in their browsers with the new rendering engine Blink.

Before we look at that closer, we should take a look at some of the terminology so that everyone can understand the implications. A rendering engine determines among other things how a website is rendered in the browser. Mozilla is using Gecko as a rendering engine, while Opera up until now used Presto, and Google with its Chrome browser WebKit.

Google and Apple use WebKit as the rendering engine for their browser, but the implementation differs on many levels. Google for instance uses its own JavaScript engine and a different multi-process architecture as well.  This, according to Google, has led to "increasing complexity for both the WebKit and Chromium projects" and "slowed down the collective pace of innovation".

Another likely reason though is that the fork is the result of a power struggle between Google and Apple. It is not clear who is to blame, and if there is anyone to blame for it, as there are reports that Google refused to contribute their multiprocess support to WebKit while others state that Apple pushed out WebKit2 with no prior notice or collaboration. So, control may have played a role in the decision making process as well.

The rendering engine Blink is a WebKit fork which means that it will use the same code base initially. The Blink team plans to optimize it though making it leaner and slimmer in the process which may have an effect on overall stability and bugs experienced. Blink will be Open Source and welcome outside contributors as much as Chromium or WebKit do.

Developers and users won't notice much of a difference for now, even though it is likely that Google will begin to ship Blink in the Canary and Dev builds of the browser soon before the new rendering engine lands in the Beta and Stable versions of the browser eventually.

Google's and Opera's move to Blink increases the number of rendering engines back to four when you look at the top five browsers for the Windows operating system.


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  1. Nebulus said on April 4, 2013 at 4:02 am

    Opera is not dead, but this might happen sooner than they think if there will be no difference between Opera and Chrome… (I’m talking about desktops here, because on mobiles Opera is alive and kicking).

    1. rop said on April 6, 2013 at 9:22 am

      Uh, why would there be no difference between Opera and Chrome? Opera isn’t using the Chromium UI, just the Chromium foundation to build their own UI.

      1. rop said on April 9, 2013 at 6:24 am

        “Because that’s exactly what happened to various other browser project basing their engine on chromium.”

        What kind of insane logic is that? Those other browser projects don’t have a fraction of the development resources Opera does. Opera has several HUNDRED browser engineers. You must be insane if you think some hobbyist Chromium fork can come even close to being compared to Opera.

        So what if killer features are tightly integrated with Presto? They can easily do them again on Webkit/Blink.

      2. anon said on April 9, 2013 at 4:34 am

        Because that’s exactly what happened to various other browser project basing their engine on chromium.

        Also, lot’s of Opera killer feature was tightly integrated with Presto, so the worry is justified.

  2. Dan said on April 4, 2013 at 3:29 am

    I’ve used Opera since the first “freeware” version 5.0 was released in 2000. I abruptly stopped using it when it was being beaten badly by the upstart Google Chrome browser in 2010. But when Google dropped Reader, I was in the hunt for a decent newsreader. I tried the Old Reader, Netvibes, Feedspot, Feedly, and QuiteRSS but none worked for me. Then I remembered using Opera’s feed reader way back in the mid 2000s, and I downloaded and installed the browser again. Now I’m back to my old browser, and I am looking forward to their new rendering engine. Opera may someday work well with Yahoo Mail (not classic). Opera is not dead, yet.

    1. ilev said on April 4, 2013 at 4:31 am

      New Opera 12.15 was out yesterday.

      1. Peter (NL) said on April 4, 2013 at 8:39 am

        Thank you for the tip about Opera 12.15. I saw that Opera’s website is renewed as well … looks good to me.

  3. ilev said on April 4, 2013 at 3:27 am

    Blink may bring little change to developer but I think users will benefit from a leaner, speeder , more bug free…browser :

    “Blink will bring little change for web developers. The bulk of the initial work will focus on internal architectural improvements and a simplification of the codebase. For example, we anticipate that we’ll be able to remove 7 build systems and delete more than 7,000 files—comprising more than 4.5 million lines—right off the bat. Over the long term a healthier codebase leads to more stability and fewer bugs.”

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