Thursday, December 13, 2007

What is the next big thing in the Browser Wars?

People would probably miss next big thing in the browser wars, as it is happening quietly. But it is import to notice it right now. It is called as WebKit.

  • What is WebKit? It is the engine behind Apple's Safari Browser, Dashboard, Mail and everything else that Apple uses.
  • Then it is proprietary? It is Open Source, and it is based on KDE's KHTML and KJS libraries.
  • Why did Apple not update KHTML itself? Apple did what all big and powerful companies do to implement faster solutions based on open source technologies. They forked the code (copied and modified the code as they wanted without getting open source community involved in the process) and then opened source code of the fork.
  • Would that not kill KHTML? Well, it does not help KHTML much, considering that all the improvements Apple created would not be part of KHTML itself. But, there are some efforts on bringing those changes into KHTML without breaking it. It may eventually kill KHTML if KExplorer and other tools to use WebKit in place of KHTML engine (as there are efforts to do so and also here, it may survive only thru its descendants. )
  • Why is it important? There are few reasons.
    • Growing influence of Mac OS X.
    • Growing influence of Apple Safari (now it is available for Windows and also used on iPhone) - Mobile Phones
    • Nokia's S60 Platform forked WebKit to create its own browsing engine - Mobile Phones 
    • Google's Android uses WebKit based browser - Mobile Phones
    • GNOME's Epiphany browser has switched to WebKit from KHTML.

The next place where people would view a web site is not laptops or PCs but the mobile phones. And the browser on the mobile phone is going to define how the websites of future will be shaped and it looks like WebKit is in the center of it.

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