On the impossibility of creating a new browser

I must admit, this is concerning. I wonder how web standards compare to XMPP XEPs, for example. People are seemingly still able to create new XMPP servers despite the large number of XEPs.

I’ll copy in my two comments from HN on this because I think it’s a pretty interesting topic.

There may be a market for a “microkernel” redesign of browsers in the next 5 years. OP’s point is right that the current design is impossible for new entrants to implement. That alone probably won’t create a market for something new (in no small part because the 2 major engines are FOSS) but if we hit an intersection of new technologies along with a need to rapidly adapt the Web to new computing platforms (eg AR/VR) then it could certainly happen.


Wasm comes to mind for a new browser arch because in theory it could be a userland replacement for traditional platform features like the UI. You could have a wasm module for HTML, for instance, which could be chosen for legacy sites, but replaced for a different approach (VR UI, cloud service which doesnt need one, etc). This would help minimize the browser core and make the execution environments swappable and reusable across browser cores.

That said, I agree that performance may be a dealbreaker on that idea. HTML/DOM is also tightly integrated into a lot of browser behaviors, so I have no idea whether it’s feasible to extract it into a swappable module. EDIT: It’s still an idea that gets me pretty excited to try.

I think webview taking over GUI development would put us in a better position. Swap out the “microkernal” in the webview rendering rather having to build a whole browser