Google’s decision to fork WebKit and launch its own Blink rendering engine came as a surprise when the company made the announcement just over a month ago. Yesterday at the Google I/O developer conference, the Blink team provided an update about the state of the engine. As Alex Komoroske, a product manager on Chrome’s Open Web Platform told the audience, the team has already removed 8.8 million lines of code from the original WebKit repository.
When Google first announced this move, the company argued that it was doing so because WebKit had become somewhat unwieldy to maintain because of the wide range of platforms it needs to support. In the process, WebKit development slowed down for all of the partners involved. The fork, the Blink team told me at the time, would allow them to “remove 7 build systems and delete more than 7,000 files—comprising more than 4.5 million lines—right off the bat.” Clearly, Google has been moving quickly to identify even more code in the WebKit source.
This not just about removing the crud from WebKit for the sake of it, however. The team argues that just over the last month, this move to Blink has already made all of the developers who are working on Blink far more productive than ever. Indeed, they argued that they don’t really need to hire more people now that they are going it alone because the individual developers are so much more productive.
The Blink team is already doing more than just removing code, too. Google also talked about a number of Blink experiments it is working on, including Oilpan, which tests putting DOM nodes in a garbage-collected heap, and Lazy Block Layout, which examines how the engine can speed up the rendering process for large web applications by just focusing on the parts of a site that are actually currently on the screen. In one demo, this system helped the team to bring down the rendering time of a very large page from 4 seconds to 32ms.
The team also noted that it’s already getting support from other companies that want to contribute, including Adobe, Intel and Microsoft, which just yesterday submitted a formal Intent to Implement to the Blink team to bring its Pointer Events API for interoperable mouse, touch, and pen interactions in the browser.