Is Safari based on Chromium?
A lot of web browsers are based on Chromium today, but is Safari based on Chromium? Which one is based on it? How do we know that? Let’s get through this.
No, Safari is not based on Chromium. The rendering engine used by Chromium is Blink while Safari’s rendering engine is WebKit. WebKit is developed and maintained by Apple itself. However, there is a long history between Safari and Chrome, they have more in common than we think, I’ll explain while.
Why is Safari not based on Chromium
What is Chromium
Chromium web browser is an open source project started by Google when they decide to make a part of the Google Chrome browser public and open source. There is still a part of Google Chrome that is not public but otherwise, anyone can create a new web browser using the Chromium project.
The Chromium web browser is using Blink rendering engine, a rendering engine developed and maintain by Google. Many famous web browsers are Chromium based today, I’ll get back to the list later.
Safari rendering engine
Safari is not using the Blink rendering engine, Apple has its own rendering engine called WebKit. It’s not so different from Blink through as I explain later.
WebKit has been first released by Apple in 2003 with the first release of Safari. In 2005, Apple decided to make WebKit open-source to allow people to create and develop using WebKit.
There is almost no chance Safari will be Chromium based one day
In 2019, a rumor sourced from a Russian blog, says that an Apple employee wrote about an issue on Chromium open-source project about a feature that would be released on Safari, meaning Safari would be completely changing to be Chromium based.
Later people shows that this rumor was completely fake, there is even almost no chance that Safari would be Chromium based one day.
3 reasons why Safari won’t ever be Chromium based :
- Blink, the rendering engine used in Chromium, is a fork of WebKit, the rendering engine used by Safari. Blink is not different enough from WebKit for Apple to use it.
- iOS web browsers are all using WebKit. For compatibility reasons, Apple decided that all the web browsers released on iOS should be using WebKit. As Chromium is using Blink, they would have to maintain two versions of Safari using a different rendering engine
- Chromium is developed by Google. Even if it is an open-source project, Chromium is developed by Google, which means that Apple could not have full control of their browser if Safari is based on Chromium.
Safari and Chromium have many things in common
As I said before, Blink has forked WebKit at his creation. It means that the two rendering engines have things in common. Let’s see the history of each one to understand better the relationship.
As I said before, WebKit has been released with the first version of Safari in 2003. The WebKit project was started in 2001 by Apple as a fork of KHTML, a KDE project. Due to the development of new features in macOS, or OS X at that time, Apple had to completely rework the KHTML code, and therefore fork it.
On his side, Blink has been first announced in 2013 as a fork of WebKit. Google decided to create their own web browser because they found Firefox architecture too slow to be dealing with the newer web applications. Instead of using directly WebKit, they decided to create a new rendering engine at the same time, Blink.
So Blink is a fork of WebKit, even if it was almost 10 years ago they still have a lot in common.
Every web browser on iOS use WebKit
All the web browsers in iOS have to use WebKit as their rendering engine to get accepted by Apple on the Apple apps store. It is mainly due to compatibility and maintenance reasons, as all the web browsers are using WebKit, Apple can continue to develop iOS without having to deal with many different web browsers and rendering engines.
But it means that web browsers not using WebKit have to develop a new version, especially for iOS. All Chromium based browsers need to maintain two versions if they want to be accepted on iOS, as well as Firefox.
Which other web browser is not Chromium based?
Every web browser uses Blink engine is chromium based, the other ones are not.
Firefox is the most famous web browser that is not Chromium based. It has its own rendering engine called Gecko and Firefox is fully open source.
Konqueror is also not based on Chromium. Mostly known by Linux users, Konqueror is the web browser installed by default on KDE. His rendering engine is KHTML, which has been used by both WebKit and Blink.
There are a lot of other not Chromium based web browsers but these two ones are the most famous, you can check the full list here.