Gilles Vandenoostende

Hi, I'm Gilles Vandenoostende - designer, illustrator and digital busybody with a love of language, based in Ghent, Belgium.

Servo and Blink

Yesterday Mozilla (and Samsung) announced they are starting work on a brand new web-rendering engine called Servo; a replacement for Gecko, which has arguably become a little long in the tooth, and is being pummeled mercilessly by Webkit in the marketplace. I’m excited for them: sometimes reinventing the wheel is exactly what’s needed in software, when legacy cruft becomes a hindrance to moving stuff forward.

I’d love to see Servo disrupt the current era of Webkit dominance.

Meanwhile, the Google Chrome team announces they’re also working on a new engine called Blink. There’s two ways to look at this move:

  1. Webkit, like Gecko, has been around for a long time and that legacy might in fact be acting as a detriment to further innovation. So it’s a good thing Google is making a new engine, even though Webkit is the best rendering engine currently out there.
  2. Or, you can take the cynical perspective: Google is only interested in advancing its own interests, and deeply embroiled in a massive war with Apple over who gets to dominate the mobile web. It’s not necessarily interested in advancing the web, but only in getting a proprietary leg up on its competitors.

That second possibility could end up being very bad for the web indeed. If we learnt our lessons from what Microsoft did back when it was in a position of dominance that is. Since I don’t particularly trust Google to not “be evil” anymore, I’m more inclined to take the second stance on this issue. Google’s in a position of power with Chrome, and I don’t particularly trust them to not put their own interests before those of an open & consistent web.

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