February 13, 2013
Opera Moves Rendering Engine to WebKit

Kinda big news from Opera Developer News this morning, they posted that they are going to move to WebKit for the rendering engine for Opera.

The short answer is that it shouldn’t affect your day-to-day work. Keep coding to the standards, not to individual rendering engines; test across browsers - Opera, Firefox, Chrome, Safari and Internet Explorer; use all vendor prefixes and an unprefixed form in your CSS and JavaScript. However, it remains important to keep the following in mind:

(Via Reddit).

The reasoning they give is:

The WebKit project now has the kind of standards support that we could only dream of when our work began. Instead of tying up resources duplicating what’s already implemented in WebKit, we can focus on innovation to make a better browser. Opera innovations such as tabbed browsing, Speed Dial and data-saving compression that speeds up page-load, have been widely copied and improved the web for all.

This is interesting. On one hand, I agree with the top reddit comment about how it’s got to suck for the people who have been working on the Opera rendering engine since 1994. It was the first “alternate” engine that I used and had, and still has, some pretty awesome stuff, and it’s still (I believe) one of the fastest browsers, and has some great performance on low end machines.

On the other hand though, maybe the market has spoken and crowned WebKit the third browser engine and said there’s just no place for another engine. In reality I think this is the better way. Web developers have enough to deal with writing cross platform compatible code for:

  • Mozilla rendering engine
  • Webkit (Safari, Chrome)
  • IE
  • Old versions of IE
  • Opera
  • Mobile
  • Three different operating systems
  • All the minor differences between different versions of all the above

I dislike redundancy, so I applaud this move. While I love openess and choice, having 18 different media players, all 3/4 baked and none complete or fully tested is a far worse thing (in my opinion) than having 2 or 4 really awesome media players that have full communities and momentum behind them. Sounds like Opera is up with this too.

Of course, really respectful web developers will still have to support Opera (which is pretty standards compliant already, so it’s not a huge deal) for a few years, as I hear there’s a fairly vocal Opera user group out there :)

Posted by Arcterex at February 13, 2013 10:53 AM