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What WebKitGTK+ 2 brings for Web 3.8

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The second major version plus the first bug-fix release of the GTK+ port of the popular web rendering engine brings many new things that should make Gnome users give the default web browser that is Epiphany another go.

This 2.0 release is notable because it includes the new WebKit2 GTK+ API. This API provides a multi-process architecture that renders web content with better robustness, responsiveness and security. Epiphany has already been ported to this new API in GNOME 3.8.

Highlights of this release are:

  • Flash and other plugins that still use the old GTK+ 2 library are now supported and run in an independent process.
  • The Web Inspector, which allows easy debugging of web applications, works automatically in both docked and undocked states without requiring any API call.
  • Accelerated compositing is now enabled, using the GPU to speed up web page rendering and scrolling.
  • There is a new embedded HTTP authentication dialog attached to each tab browser. Previously the HTTP dialog was common to the whole application.


The default implementation of the HTTP authentication embeds a dialog in the WebView instead of using a real GtkDialog. It’s also integrated with the keyring by default using libsecret.


Plugins also run in a different process that is built with GTK+ 2 to support the most popular plugins like flash that still use GTK+ 2.


Remote inspector support on Web Inspector


As long as developers and contributors are concerned, the new version of WebKitGTK+ includes both WebKit1 and WebKit2 APIs with the second being considered stable and thus made the default. Backwards compatibility will be ensured, but everyone is recommended to port their apps to the latest version as nothing more than bug fixing will take place for the 1 branch.

The new API is more simple and thus easier to use, more consistent with the names of the functions, signals and properties, while also being more flexible allowing developers to use their own implementation of some parts when possible.

The next step will be the 2.2 version release that must line up with Gnome 3.10 release. Some of the highlights of 2.2 will hopefully be Multi-web processes, Wayland support, Web notifications and Sandboxing.

  WebKitGTK+ Homepage

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