Rendering Engines – They Have the Power!

Last Thursday, J. Cornelius of Coffee Cup and the Atlanta Web Design Group (AWDG) stopped by our Web Design Usability class and talked about various topics in web design.

He made an interesting comment about designing for different browsers.  J. advised that you really didn’t have to struggle so much to make sure every web page looked the same across every browser, just make sure the user had the best experience possible for the browser they used.

What makes each browser display the same html code differently? It is the rendering engine.

A rendering engine is the code that tells the browser how to display the html and available style information in the browser window. By paying attention to a browser’s underlying rendering engine, web developers can have a better understanding how their page will be displayed.

Released by Mozilla in 1998, Gecko was the first reusable-rendering engine [Source:  Web Design In A Nutshell]. It was soon followed by Microsoft’s Trident, Opera’s Presto and WebKit.

According the Wikipedia, Gecko is used by a variety of products derived from the Mozilla code base, including the Firefox web browser, the Thunderbird e-mail client, and SeaMonkey internet suite.

Trident, the web browser engine from Internet Explorer, is used by many applications on the Microsoft Windows platform, such as Outlook Express, some versions of Microsoft Outlook, and the mini-browsers in Winamp and RealPlayer.

Opera Software‘s proprietary Presto engine is licensed to a number of other software vendors, and is used in Opera’s own web browser.

KDE‘s open-source KHTML engine is used in KDE’s Konqueror web browser and was the basis for WebKit, the rendering engine in Apple’s Safari and Google’s Chrome web browsers.

For a look at the various engines and where they are used, check out Wikipedia’s Comparison of Layout Engines.


About Susan
I'm a wife, mother and student living in the suburbs of Atlanta. After 20 years in corporate IT, I am currently working for a non-profit as Director of Operations.

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