Any web developer that has been working in the field for awhile can tell you the frustrations of having to support multiple browsers and testing apps against them. Only until recently we had to just think about Webkit/Gecko browsers and then the rogue IE6/7. It seems like those might be the good old days given the recent news of more fragmentation in browser engines. Just as we think browser makers are finally getting some traction towards some sort of common browser engine that multiple browsers can support, Google announces that they are breaking ranks and going with Blink. Meanwhile Mozilla is teaming up with Samsung to go with Servo. What is a lonely web developer to do?
With this new path Google and Mozilla are blazing with their respective engines, comes more differences that web developers are surely going to have to deal with. This feature may or may not be present, it may work differently, one might be faster than the other, one might simply not support it or one may have a bug while the other browser doesn’t. I get the idea behind Google wanting to break away and take charge of its own destiny. They have the resources, they know they can get something running better and without the need to have to run the change by some other group. Blink will surely fall into the classic tight iterative development cycle that Google seems to be adopting with all their products.
But in the end all web developers, new and old, are going to have to take more time, more effort and field more calls from those people using their web apps. Diversity in creating new experiences in the browser is a good thing, having to keep track of all the different browser camps is a bad thing. Luckily other groups have done some amazing work in provided cross browser solutions like jQuery and Modernizr to help level the playing field. But if the browser makers can just agree on a few things, we might have peace in the land.
But I for one am still excited for Blink even if it is going to part ways and probably cause some of us hell. I have seen how Google has handled other projects and their fast fixing cycle and dedication to squashing products bugs means that we may get a really solid browser engine in the next year or two. Webkit has been amazing and should serve as a great starting point for Google and Blink. Google has really pushed the envelope of web development for the desktop and mobile space for the last several years and I think they can do more with their own engine. I just wish that other browsers could still join in the fun and keep up with them. I am beginning to think that the dream of having a standardization of layout engines is never going to come true.
So hold onto your hats and let’s see how this all shakes out. Do you see opportunity or frustration ahead with Google’s new engine? Let us hear about it in the comments below.