|Developer(s)||Adobe, Apple, Google, BlackBerry, and others|
|Initial release||November 4, 1998
June 7, 2005 (WebKit open sourced)
WebKit is a layout engine software designed to allow web browsers to render web pages. It powers Google's Chrome web browser versions up to 27, and Apple's Safari web browser applications. As of November 2012 it has the most market share of any layout engine at over 40% of the browser market share—ahead of both the Trident engine used by Internet Explorer, and the Gecko engine used by Firefox.
It is also used as the basis for the experimental browser included with the Amazon Kindle e-book reader, as well as the default browser in the Apple iOS, Android, BlackBerry 10, and Tizen mobile operating systems. WebKit's C++ API provides a set of classes to display web content in windows, and implements browser features such as following links when clicked by the user, managing a back-forward list, and managing a history of pages recently visited.
The exchange of code between WebCore and KHTML was increasingly difficult as the code base diverged because both projects had different approaches in coding and code sharing. At one point KHTML developers said they were unlikely to accept Apple's changes and claimed the relationship between the two groups was a "bitter failure". Apple submitted their changes in large patches that contained a great number of changes with inadequate documentation, often to do with future additions. Thus, these patches were difficult for the KDE developers to integrate back into KHTML. Furthermore, Apple had demanded that developers sign non-disclosure agreements before looking at Apple's source code and even then they were unable to access Apple's bug database.
During the publicized 'divorce' period, KDE developer Kurt Pfeifle (pipitas) posted an article claiming KHTML developers had managed to backport many (but not all) Safari improvements from WebCore to KHTML, and they always appreciated the improvements coming from Apple and still do so. The article also noted Apple had begun to contact KHTML developers about discussing how to improve the mutual relationship and ways of future cooperation. In fact, the KDE project was able to incorporate some of these changes to improve KHTML's rendering speed and add features, including compliance with the Acid2 rendering test.
Since the story of the fork appeared in news, Apple has released changes of the source code of WebKit fork in a CVS repository. Since the transfer of the sourcecode into a public CVS repository, Apple and KHTML developers have had increasing collaboration. Many KHTML developers have become reviewers and submitters for WebKit SVN repository.
The WebKit team had also reversed many Apple-specific changes in the original WebKit code base and implemented platform-specific abstraction layers to make committing the core rendering code to other platforms significantly easier.
In July 2007, the Ars Technica website published an article reporting that the KDE team would move from KHTML to WebKit. Instead, after several years of integration, KDE Development Platform version 4.5.0 was released in August 2010 with support for both WebKit and KHTML, and development of KHTML continues.
Beginning in early 2007, the development team began to implement Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) extensions, including animation, transitions and both 2D and 3D transforms; such extensions were released as working drafts to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) in 2009 for standardization.
The week after Hyatt's announcement of WebKit's open-sourcing, Nokia announced that it had ported WebKit to the Symbian operating system and was developing a browser based on WebKit for mobile phones running S60. Now named Web Browser for S60, it is used on Nokia, Samsung, LG, and other Symbian S60 mobile phones. Apple has also ported WebKit to iOS to run on the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, where it is used to render content in the device's web browser and e-mail software. The Android mobile phone platform uses WebKit as the basis of its web browser and the Palm Pre, announced January 2009, has an interface based on WebKit. The Amazon Kindle 3 includes an experimental WebKit based browser.
In June 2007, Apple announced that WebKit had been ported to Microsoft Windows as part of Safari. There are also ongoing ports for the open source operating systems Syllable,Haiku and AROS Research Operating System (AROS).
WebKit has also been ported to several toolkits that support multiple platforms, such as the GTK+ toolkit,Qt framework,Adobe Integrated Runtime, Enlightenment Foundation Libraries (EFL), and the Clutter toolkit.Qt Software (owned by Digia) includes the Qt port in the Qt 4.4 release. The Qt port of WebKit is also available to be used in Konqueror since version 4.1. The Iris Browser on Qt also uses WebKit. The Enlightenment Foundation Libraries (EFL) port is under development (by Samsung and ProFUSION) focusing the embedded and mobile systems, for use as stand alone browser, widgets/gadgets, rich text viewer and composer. The Clutter port is developed by Collabora and sponsored by Bosch.
There is also a project synchronized with WebKit (sponsored by Pleyo) called Origyn Web Browser, which provides a meta-port to an abstract platform with the aim of making porting to embedded or lightweight systems quicker and easier. This port is used for embedded devices such as set-top boxes, PMP and it has been ported into AmigaOS,AROS and MorphOS. MorphOS version 1.7 is the first version of Origyn Web Browser (OWB) supporting HTML5 media tags.
On April 3, 2013, Google announced that it would produce a fork of WebKit's WebCore component known as Blink. Chrome's developers decided to fork WebKit in order to allow greater freedom in implementing WebCore's features in the browser without causing conflicts upstream, and would also allow the simplification of its codebase through the removal of code for WebCore components that are not used by Chrome. In relation to Opera Software's announcement earlier in the year that it would switch to WebKit by means of the Chromium codebase, it was also confirmed that the Opera web browser would also switch to Blink. Following the announcement, WebKit developers began discussions on the possible removal of Chrome-specific code from the engine in order to streamline its overall codebase.
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