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WebKit Group Strikes Back: Let's Remove Chrome

By - Source: The Register | B 16 comments

With Google moving away from WebKit prime to develop its own browser rendering engine, the WebKit group is now looking to remove Chrome-based code.

After Google revealed that it's forking WebKit with the launch of the Blink browser rendering engine for Chrome, WebKit developers began discussing the removal of Chrome-specific code from the project. This is by no means a "retaliation" despite how it sounds. It makes perfect sense to remove support for a browser that will no longer use the WebKit engine.

"Since we no longer need to support the Chromium port, let's take the opportunity to streamline," wrote Apple's Geoffrey Garen in a post to a WebKit development mailing list on Thursday. "Hopefully, this will make development easier and more coherent for everyone."

On Thursday, Google said the initial work on Blink will be architectural improvements and a simplification of the codebase. Seven build systems and more than 7,000 files -- comprising more than 4.5 million lines of code -- will be eliminated. This will lead to a healthier codebase, better stability and fewer bugs.

The WebKit group, in turn, plans to do something similar, eliminating everything specific to Chrome. That includes code which integrates with Google's V8 JavaScript engine, support for the Google-URL library, and whatever uses Google's Skia graphics library. The group will also likely eliminate Chrome-specific page rendering and layout test cases.

Apple and Google, two rivals in the smartphone and tablet markets, are seemingly parting ways with the launch of Google's Blink rendering engine. The search engine giant adopted WebKit, a forked version of KHTML that Apple open-sourced in 2005, for the Android and Chrome browser. But because Chromium uses a different multi-process architecture than Safari and other WebKit-based browsers, the use of WebKit was slowing down Chrome's development.

But even with Google now out of the picture, Apple doesn't plan to simply go into WebKit and start trimming the Chrome fat. As one developer points out, BlackBerry still uses Skia, and Samsung uses V8. There may also be ports using GoogleURL as well. That said, the WebKit group needs to double-check everything before pulling out code that could potentially crash browsers.

"We're not planning to remove things still in use," said Apple's Maciej Stachowiak, defending a list of possible Chrome components that could be removed from WebKit. "Geoff posted the list in part because we'd like to know if any of the things above are used by other ports."

Google's Eric Seidel wrote in a separate mailing-list thread on Wednesday that the company is willing to work with the WebKit group to remove Chromium-specific code and "other messes we may have caused over the years." He also added that Google will continue to participate in WebKit development discussions, and that he hopes the WebKit and Blink teams can continue a close relationship.

"I hope that others will see Blink as I do: as a chance to take the WebKit codebase to exciting new places," he said. "I hope someday that many of the ideas we pursue in Blink will find their way into many platforms, including WebKit."

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Top Comments
  • 31 Hide
    rohitbaran , April 5, 2013 5:05 PM
    So, the move is not in retaliation, but the title is sure made to sound like that. Wow toms, wow.
  • 25 Hide
    krowbar , April 5, 2013 5:15 PM
    WebKit Group Strikes Back: Let's Remove Chrome
    Quote:
    This is by no means a "retaliation" despite how it sounds.

    That is how YOU made it sound.
  • 14 Hide
    bustapr , April 5, 2013 5:37 PM
    I was gonna say something about the title, but was beat to it xD

Other Comments
  • 31 Hide
    rohitbaran , April 5, 2013 5:05 PM
    So, the move is not in retaliation, but the title is sure made to sound like that. Wow toms, wow.
  • 25 Hide
    krowbar , April 5, 2013 5:15 PM
    WebKit Group Strikes Back: Let's Remove Chrome
    Quote:
    This is by no means a "retaliation" despite how it sounds.

    That is how YOU made it sound.
  • 14 Hide
    bustapr , April 5, 2013 5:37 PM
    I was gonna say something about the title, but was beat to it xD

  • 11 Hide
    s3anister , April 5, 2013 5:55 PM
    rohitbaranSo, the move is not in retaliation, but the title is sure made to sound like that. Wow toms, wow.

    Yeah the article title makes it sound like it's an obvious retaliation strike when it's most definitely not.
  • 9 Hide
    A Bad Day , April 5, 2013 6:41 PM
    rohitbaranSo, the move is not in retaliation, but the title is sure made to sound like that. Wow toms, wow.


    Gotta get those high viewership...
  • -1 Hide
    Shin-san , April 5, 2013 7:08 PM
    As a programmer, premature optimization is bad, m'kay? It would be very reckless to rip apart code on a whim
  • 0 Hide
    alextheblue , April 5, 2013 7:29 PM
    I see this as a good thing for users as well as Google themselves. Prior to this announcement, the only big non-Webkit browsers were Firefox and IE (Opera is switching to Webkit). So there was a growing risk of Webkit becoming the de facto standard, instead of actual standards. Now with Google forking Webkit into Blink, developers will be less likely to take the lazy "It works on Webkit" route, and actually stick to standards - in particular, HTML5.
    Shin-sanAs a programmer, premature optimization is bad, m'kay? It would be very reckless to rip apart code on a whim
    True, but I don't think they're actually going to do that. They're not that reckless. They're just giving a heads up to those relying on Google-specific code (like V8 and Skia) that Google is doing their own thing now - so don't count on Google to keep updating that code, at least within Webkit. Those devs (like the BB and Samsung guys) can still use it for now. But in the future they'll most likely have to either take the Google bits and fork it themselves, or use something else.
  • -7 Hide
    otacon72 , April 5, 2013 8:27 PM
    You people will whine about anything on here...now it's the title of the article...good lord.
  • -5 Hide
    shqtth , April 5, 2013 10:02 PM
    The problem with open source, anyone can say 'FORK you' and take your baby away from you and start a fork of it of their own. In a way its kind of insulting.


    Google should start code from scratch, why should they make money off the backs of others?
  • 2 Hide
    rantoc , April 6, 2013 2:49 AM
    A Bad DayGotta get those high viewership...


    ... at any cost it seems - Including miss leading titles!
  • -1 Hide
    Pherule , April 6, 2013 4:36 AM
    Let's hope Opera supports both WebKit and Blink.
  • 1 Hide
    ta152h , April 6, 2013 8:25 AM
    rohitbaranSo, the move is not in retaliation, but the title is sure made to sound like that. Wow toms, wow.


    Kevin Parrish = Suck.

    He makes reading Tom's painful. I used to dislike Wolfgang's over the top articles too, but I feel like he's improved a lot, and I also think he just throws stuff out there to get people to think about issues they otherwise would not have.

    More Jane, less "Fruity" Kevin.
  • 3 Hide
    alextheblue , April 7, 2013 5:47 PM
    shqtthThe problem with open source, anyone can say 'FORK you' and take your baby away from you and start a fork of it of their own. In a way its kind of insulting.Google should start code from scratch, why should they make money off the backs of others?
    If you don't want people to fork your code, go closed source. Otherwise deal with it. It's not theft if you left everyone take whatever they want and do whatever they want with it.

    On the other hand, and I've said this before: Google only cares about open source when it helps them. They used the Linux kernel because it meant lots of free labor. They used Webkit for the same reason. When it comes down to it, they only "support" open source when and where it benefits them. They also have a lot of closed-source projects.
  • 2 Hide
    Jeoshua , April 8, 2013 8:07 AM
    This article is completely misleadingly titled. We should be celebrating this event, not damning it or striking fear into peoples hearts that there is a browser war brewing!

    Google forks WebKit to remove extra code and make their browser faster and more reliable, easier to code, and generally better, without removing anything from WebKit. This is a good thing for Chrome, and by extension, everyone else.

    Now WebKit actually RETURNS the favor to the world by removing Chrome-only code from WebKit, thereby making browsers based on it faster, more reliable, easier to code, and generally better. THIS IS A GOOD THING FOR WEBKIT, AND BY EXTENSION, EVERYONE ELSE!

    Gawd...
  • 0 Hide
    ronch79 , July 6, 2013 8:46 AM
    Wow, just like many folks here I find the title of this article quite misleading.

    Come on, Tom's, don't be like those disrespectable websites out there such as RedOrbit.com where they exaggerate their article titles so people would click on the article and they can have a higher click rate. Don't be a CLICK-BAIT website!
  • 0 Hide
    f-14 , October 9, 2013 7:27 AM
    it just needs to be 30% different so google can't sue them.
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