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Apple Unveils WebKit2 for Next Generation Browsers

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Didn't think Apple was finished after iPhone OS 4.0 did ya?

Late last night the company also quietly revealed 'Webkit2', a new version of the core browsing architecture behind Safari 4, Chrome and most mobile phone browsers including those in iPhone OS, Android, Symbian and soon BlackBerry. This being Apple, the new build is an incompatible API change from its predecessor, but it will be made available to all Webkit-based browsers.

"This is a heads-up that we will shortly start landing patches for a new WebKit framework that we at Apple have been working on for a while," said Apple's Anders Carlsson and Sam Weinig. "We currently call this new framework "WebKit2". WebKit2 is designed from the ground up to support a split process model, where the web content (JavaScript, HTML, layout, etc) lives in a separate process. This model is similar to what Google Chrome offers, with the major difference being that we have built the process split model directly into the framework, allowing other clients to use it."

"Currently WebKit2 is available for Mac and Windows, and we would gladly accept patches to add more ports," they added.

How will it differ from Chrome's existing split process (sandboxing) system? In short it lifts the process boundaries above the API boundary, this means the functionality is easier for other companies to use in their iterations

"WebKit2 has a different goal {to Chrome} - we want process management to be part of what is provided by WebKit itself, so that it is easy for any application to use," says the Webkit Open Source Project. "We would like chat clients, mail clients, twitter clients, and all the creative applications that people build with WebKit to be able to take advantage of this technology. We believe this is fundamentally part of what a web content engine should provide."

Whether Google and others choose to implement these changes to Webkit in their browsers remains to be seen, but it seems likely since the company is always banging on about universal Web standards. It is also good to see Apple mucking in with the development of open source projects.

Availability? Webkit2 is currently considered "an early technology demo" so won't be integrated into Safari or Chrome for a while yet. that said, it is likely to be the launch pad for the next generation of web browsers and Apple has been fundamental in making it happen. Nice one Cupertino.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go and scrape flying pig off my windows.

Links:
Webkit2 Announcement
WebKit2 High Level Document

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