Webkit, the rendering engine, and forks
The rendering engine of Safari, because it is compact, is used by many toolkits for rendering pages, but now it tends to go hand.
To create its new browser, the Apple company had ignored Gecko and preferred the KHTML runtime that displays the pages in the Konqueror browser under Linux.
Thereafter Apple launched in 2001 from the KHTML code, the WebKit project that became open source in 2007 or more precisely, becomes accessible to third-party applications.
It is also used on Apple and Nokia mobiles. It replaced Gecko on the Epiphany browser for Gnome on Linux.
Latter Google in turn created a fork of WebKit, Blink, to replace it in 2013 in the Chrome browser and on Android.
Blink was choosen by Opera then to replace its own page renderer.
Opera was using WebKit in its Ice browser for smartphones, replacing Presto, its own rendering engine. This browser has a minimalist interface.
But it use Blink on all its browser since 2013.
Based on an overly optimistic interpretation of a sentence of Ballmer, the rumor ran that Microsoft could use WebKit for some of its products, but this was later denied. The sentence was somewhat ambiguous:
"Open source is interesting. Apple has embraced WebKit and we may look at that, but we will continue to build extensions for IE 8." (Developer Conference at Sydney in November 2008.)
However, Microsoft is a contributor to WebKit to promote the use of some of its software in the browser.
WebKit 2 is a new version separates web pages and applications form the browser itself, as already does Chrome. It is used by Apple but not by never was by Chrome which had already its own architecture for this effect.
It was separated from the modified version of Webkit used by Chrome, to become Blink on April 3, 2013. It has separate processes for each iFrame that is more secure.
Webkit is not the rendering engine the most used, which depends on the market share of browsers, as well as use in toolkits such as Qt or Node-Webkit (which originally used Webkit, hence the name, but then moved to Blink).
Rendering engines of other browsers are:
- Gecko from Mozilla, on Firefox. (1998).
- Trident from Microsoft. On Internet Explorer since version 4. (1997). Still on IE9.
WebKit is fully compatible with Web standards, unlike Trident until version 9 and 10 of IE.
- Presto from Opera. Succeeds to Elektra since version 7 (2003). But replaced by Blink in 2013.
- Gazelle. This is a rendering engine and browser that would function as an operating system.
- Servo. New browser from Mozilla writen in the its new Rust system language.
- EdgeHTML. For the "Spartan" Microsoft browser coming with Windows 10.
- 1998. KHTML is in development.
- 2000. KHTML, HTML rendering engine for the Linux Konqueror browser is broadcast.
- 2001 June 25. Apple created a fork of KHTML and KJS called WebKit.
- 2003 January. Announcement of the Safari browser by Apple (at MacWorld Expo).
- 2005 June. Apple is forced to make the full code available to all. This is completed in January 2006.
- 2010, avril 8. WebKit 2 is started.
- 2010 August. Konqueror and KDE may use WebKit or KHTML.
- 2013 March 7. Apple files the WebKit brand.
- 2013 April. Google in turn makes a fork called Blink, and build a set consisting of V8 and Blink, called Chromium. Chromium tends to replace WebKit in other tools too.
For more infos, look at:
- WebKit. The site.
- Using WebKit for your desktop application. Linux Journal.
This requires the use of the Qt framework and QtWebKit, huge, but portable and easy to use.
- Qt 4.5. GUI library that integrates Webkit.
- WebGL. The 3D library for the Web is supported by Webkit (and is displayed in Canvas).
Opera moves to WebKit
Android and iOS Opera's browser is based on WebKit, and is called ICE. The advantage on smartphones is that WebKit is also the native renderer, it gives faster hardware access to ICE. For desktop computers that allows Opera to share all the advanced features of WebKit, what it is also committed to participate. Its first participation is for the multi-columnsfor layout.
This is good news for web developers and webmasters: a compatibility problem less. For users, it will provide a different interface. On mobiles, Opera has 15% market share in 2013 according to StatCounter.