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back to article Opera joins Google/Apple in-crowd with shift to WebKit and Chromium

Opera Software is throwing in with Apple, Google and open-sourcers by dumping its browser’s proprietary HTML rendering engine for WebKit and Chromium. Opera is killing Presto in favour of the open-source WebKit 'ware used in Apple’s Safari and iOS plus Google’s Chrome, among other browsers and runtimes. New versions of Opera …

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But if IE uses chromium/webkit as well then

it might actually render pages correctly...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: But if IE uses chromium/webkit as well then

Actually as seen by Opera bug fixes and other, I've yet to find a browser that renders every page correctly. hence i have a habit of using 4!

Also if everyone ends up using webkit, then, as with every monopoly, where is the incentive to innovate?

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Re: But if IE uses chromium/webkit as well then

IE9 and 10 render pages pretty well. Probably on a par with Firefox and Chrome. It's just the old ones that are awful.

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Re: But if IE uses chromium/webkit as well then

IE suffers a problem that Opera doesn't have - popularity.

Opera can switch engines because there are so few pages designed around it in the first place and switching would probably improve the rendering experience.

Conversely switching in IE is far more difficulty because of the amount of legacy crap which tests for IE in the user agent and expects certain behaviour. The only way I could see them doing it is to drop Internet Explorer entirely from their user agent and legacy behaviour in the JS and DOM (e.g. document.all). Sites won't treated it as IE any more and therefore the behaviour will probably fall into line with other browsers. The IE app might still have to maintain the old browser but would only fallback to it for problematic sites - intranets and so on.

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FAIL

Re: But if IE uses chromium/webkit as well then

"the amount of legacy crap which tests for IE in the user agent and expects certain behaviour"

Yes, and breaks when you use IE9 which doesn't work like IE6, so all the IE6/7 hacks break horribly. Of course the code just says "Oh, you are using IE, I'll work like you're IE6", but ...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: But if IE uses chromium/webkit as well then

Who really cares? If the site is so old that it hasn't been overhauled since ie6 was popular it's more than likely to be irrelevant to everyday life ... especially so that so many people access via mobile devices.

Perhaps we should take a pragmatic approach and just accept that pre ie9 is like your grandad. Pretty irrelevant and prone to irrational behaviour.

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Re: But if IE uses chromium/webkit as well then

"Conversely switching in IE is far more difficulty because of the amount of legacy crap "

I'm not sure how true this is - almost(*) every update of ie breaks what has gone before. Currently I have a set of tweaks for firefox, 2 almost-identical sets for chrome and safari, another set for opera (for now), some for ie10, some for ie9, some for ie8, some for 7 and others for 6. If ie moves to webkit, with its everyone-is-on-the-current-version-because-it-defaults-to-updating-every-bloody-week model that means only one more set of changes for ie, not a new set every year or so

(*) I'm hedging here as an anti-pedantry shield. I don't really think the word almost belongs here

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Re: But if IE uses chromium/webkit as well then

"If the site is so old that it hasn't been overhauled since ie6 was popular"

Your line of reasoning is sound as far as it goes, but I've seen this sort of crap on forum sites for games that were released in 2009 (and the forum site itself was updated in 2011), and in fact the site broke on IE8, much less 9.

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Stop

An asIDE on ECLIPSE

The article mentions a shift to the use of ECLIPSE by IDE manufacturers as an analogy with Opera's shift to WebKit. Personally, I am entirely unconvinced by this suggestion. Specifically, IntelliJ IDEA is an IDE that is most certainly not based on the rather cumbersome ECLIPSE technology and, boy, does it show. IDEA is so many times better than ECLIPSE it's worth paying for. Even though you don't have to with the community edition.

Now, it may be that Opera will benefit from this switch. I'll happily wait and see.

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Re: An asIDE on ECLIPSE

I agree; if Eclipse is where you're setting the bar then it's not a good sign.

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Re: An asIDE on ECLIPSE

Whatever your opinions are on stock eclipse from a developer point of view you can't deny what the ecosystem has brought in the terms that the author was referring to. It is a fantastically rich environment to base an application on, you can get all sorts of functionality for very little effort and it is very well designed for extensibility (the core is after all a certified OSGi implementation).

Built on top of open standards the effort that has been spent on producing eclipse has given us so much than an IDE to develop software in, rather it is a framework for developing applications, one of those applications happens to be an IDE. Surely this was the point the author was making?

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Anonymous Coward

I agree about ECLIPSE

The only IDE I've had the misfortune to use that's nastier and more bloated than ECLIPSE is Visual Studio.

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Pint

In before Opera aficionado laments the loss of the one true rendering engine

Though I have to agree with the decision.

Pour one for Presto...

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"Only Redmond left drinking out of own browser plumbing"

Except you forget Mozilla with Gecko?

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Redmond are the only ones still developing a proprietary rendering engine on their own, is what I think it meant.

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Linux

Linux wins the Browser Wars.

At long last, the age old question of the 1990's Browser Wars has been answered. Which browser will ultimately rule the internet - Netscape or IE? Answer - Konqueror from the Linux KDE desktop (Webkit's parent).

How incredibly amusing.

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Facepalm

Re: Linux wins the Browser Wars.

Yes'ish...but Webkit is really Apple's donation isn't it. Sure it has roots in there, but the Webkit project began as a fork within Apple in 2001, then opensourced again in 2005, and KDE switched to Webkit in 2010...

So the majority of the browsers (according to WikiMedia in September 2012) is being viewed through Apple donated opensource webkit :) That should give the anti-Apple fanboys some joy to downvote the truth...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Linux wins the Browser Wars.

The irony is that Linux has an absolutely tiny market share, like Opera. Yet the people who attack Opera for being 'an irrelevance' on that basis are unlikely to say the same of Linux.

And by Linux, we all know we're talking about proper Linux, not the hugely genetically modified walled-garden products grown from a few Linux stem cells by megacorps like Google. Or closed-system one-app set top boxes. They're no more Linux boxes than the touchscreen fare machines on the London Underground are Windows NT workstations.

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Linux

Re: Linux wins the Browser Wars.

>"Sure it has roots in there, but the Webkit project began as a fork within Apple in 2001"

KDE had developed KHTML and KJS (KDE JavaScript engine) by 1998. Apple forked them as part of the Webkit project in 2001. The two companies have continued to contribute code to KHTML through the years, although there have been periods where they did not work together nicely. Although we call it Webkit, an Apple product, Webkit is still acknowledged to be a fork of KHTML.

So yes, Linux won the Browser Wars. With help from Apple. And direction and control by Google. Mostly on Windows desktops.

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Linux

"proper Linux"?

What are you on about, mate? The Linux kernel by its very nature gets stuffed into servers, repackaged (within an inch of its life) into routers, and even distributed to desktops, in all sorts and shapes of distributions. Even my ¥6500 media server is running it. There is no "proper Linux" in the way that there might be a Windows 7 release.

Give it up. Nobody cares whether or not Linux won the desktop: those who prefer it (for many reasons) use it, those who don't, well... don't. Only Eadon gives a shit. The rest of us penguins are reassured by the observation that the Linux kernel is running on approximately 85% of the 32/64 bit MCUs in the world today.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Proper Linux.

You don't browse the web on routers and media servers, any more than the London Transport ticket machines and Fuji photo printing kiosks running Windows.

No one browsing the web from their PVR or games console has a clue what operating system it's running. No normal person with an Android phone knows it has anything to do with Linux.

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FAIL

Only Redmond left drinking out of own browser plumbing

So when did Mozilla stop writing Firefox?

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Paris Hilton

Re: Only Redmond left drinking out of own browser plumbing

He said they are the only major player with a closed source rendering thingymabob did he not?

Maybe your browser didn't render the text properly and you missed that bit?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Only Redmond left drinking out of own browser plumbing

Wait for the other announcement that's forthcoming....

it's going to be Webkit and Trident very soon indeed, with Webkit being the major web and mobile browsershare....

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A world with one rendering engine is obviously bad. There would be no competition and therefore no reason for the browsers to continue to evolve/improve. We would basically be back in the land of IE6 and proprietary lock-ins like ActiveX or the newer Webkit touch events, neither of which are W3C standards.

If Microsoft were to give up on Trident, then I would rather they sided with Mozilla to keep competition alive.

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@scrote

Having one rendering engine does have advantages though, at the moment as a web dev you end up writing a page that has to try it's best to play happily with several different engines, removing that complexity would make web development faster / cheaper.

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Alert

A world in which you'd have to rely on the Microsoft product to spot where others were breaking the standard would be a stange one indeed......

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Re: @scrote

Just because two browsers use the same rendering engine doesn't mean they'll both render a page the same. I've seen Chrome and Safari render things differently.

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Not sure I agree... Opera's advantage (for me) isn't in the way it renders but in the way I use it: hotkeys, tabs, gestures, addins, My Opera, etc.

Almost all the browsers now offer a similar set of features, but the way they implement them is different enough to attract different crowds. And that isn't going to change just because they use the same renderer.

Although I use Opera for 90% of my browsing, I still have Chrome around for things like GDocs, due to a couple of annoying glitches. Hopefully Opera's shift to WebKit will mean that I don't have to.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @scrote

"Just because two browsers use the same rendering engine doesn't mean they'll both render a page the same. I've seen Chrome and Safari render things differently."

This is usually because of idiotic browser detection, and fudging of content, trying to second-guess things. Obviously, it's counter-productive, but still..

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Coat

Really?!?

People are competing on, and innovating based on, the technology in rendering engines?!? And we consumers are basing our browser choice on that technology innovation?!?

I must be living in the wrong universe. (Which, of course, begs the metaphysical question: How is this post getting rendered in your universe, Mr. Scrote?)

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"There would be no competition and therefore no reason for the browsers to continue to evolve/improve."

Not necessarily. It's not that a single company would have a monopoly ( as MS had with IE way back when ), it would actually be several different companies all competing against each other, just using a common render as a starting point. MS moving to webkit would basically mean that website incompatibilities would go by the wayside, not that development would stagnate.

In fact, I think we'd end up seeing an explosion of GUI enhancements driven by that competition.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: A world with one rendering engine is obviously bad.

Not when that one rendering engine is Free software, with no one entity having a stranglehold on it, where people can add improvements to it and make those improvements available to everybody else, and where if one group becomes intransigent on accepting the changes everybody else can tell them to fork off.

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Anonymous Coward

Will this mean

An end to those 'you are using an old-fashioned browser which may not display our pages properly' messages I get with opera?

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Facepalm

Re: Will this mean

Those messages usually had nothing to do with Presto's capabilities, but with developers not bothering. There was even an extension for Opera that stripped code that excluded Opera from certain "WebKit-showoff" pages and suddenly the sites started working perfectly on Opera.

Google showing that message on blogger.com was one of the most egregious shenanigans.

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Yes, but...

those messages (and the lack of operability - no pun intended) were/are dammed hard to get around. As an Opera user, there are still sites out there that I need to start IE for. And although I haven't tried Firefox/Chrome for a while, I couldn't get to these sites using those browsers either.

I am happy to admit that I use Opera because I am awkward, but I thought the point of having standards was so that different products could compete on an open playing field. If Opera drop their rendering engine and IE continues to play in its own sandbox, there is not much competition out there any more.

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Pint

Re: Yes, but...

Most of the time you just have to change the agent: F12 > Edit Site Preferences > Network, then change the Browser Identification to Internet Explorer (or Firefox).

Not guaranteed, but I've found a large number then let you just carry on without issue.

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Re: Yes, but...

Being able to have Opera identify or masquerade as Firefox or IE can sometimes help with that; I haven't had to use it lately but in the 'oughts' it came in handy.

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Unhappy

Another one bites the dust

After Nokia, that's another European software company that bites it. Yeah, just like Nokia, it will continue to exist, but lobotomized. There's a difference between surviving and living.

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Re: Another one bites the dust

In opera's case, which way around is which?

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Holmes

Re: Another one bites the dust

To survive, you only need to see another sunrise. To live, you must be free

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Shame

I think this is sad news. Not bad news - it's probably good news for the web - but it still upsets me to hear it for some reason.

I don't use Opera (apart from for a few months many years ago) but I liked it and I was happy that there were people who use it. Variety and competition is good. Even now when I use it to test websites I am amazed at how fast it is at loading pages.

I can foresee a future where every browser uses and contributes to the same open source rendering engine. It would certainly be convenient for web developers. I'm not sure if there would be negative consequences to such a future.

I hope Opera Software will still manage to keep going.

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I have used Opera for so long I cannot remember the time (disappeared in a haze of Stella and Hobgoblin) when I didn't. I loved the way it worked when IE didn't and Netscape disappeared, so it must have been in the late 90's. However the way it does not render some pages and now some sites will not even let you use it at all does get worrisome even for a fan like me. I really hope this works out, but I do worry as others have here that the disappearance of another stand alone browser engine means we all in the end suffer mediocrity.

Phrontis

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Opera used to be good....

.... until the last few v12 releases with their odd habit of wrapping some of El Reg's ads round the back of the window so the right half of the ad appears on the left of the screen and an annoying habit of converting the Beeb's home and news pages into a 6mm wide vertical line at the centre of the screen, apparently of near-infinite height. I reported this to Opera when it appeared, some 3-4 upgrades ago and keep checking new releases, but no fix has appeared, so I'm now using FF for most browsing and will continue to do so until Opera fix their rendering engine.

FF has some less than delightful features but at least its doing a better job of rendering pages than the current Opera release.

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Happy

@Phrontis

"some sites will not even let you use it at all"

As far as I remember it was possible to change the way Opera is seen by different "sites" from Opera to IE.

I have a feeling it helpt years ago.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Opera used to be good....

And this is where you went wrong.

You expected Opera to break their browser's standards compliance to overcome dodgy website coding. That's a game Opera have never played.

If you can show a W3C testcase that Opera failed, it will get fixed very quickly, if you find a broken website, you are better off speaking to the website owner. If you are really lucky, and it's a high profile website where the owners don't give a crap about Opera, then Opera will release a javascript based website patch that doesn't affect Opera's W3C compliance, but fixes the broken site on-the-fly.

http://my.opera.com/sitepatching/blog/

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JDX
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How does this help Opera's market share?

They go from a niche product which offers something different, to a niche product which is just another browser?

It seems I'm even less likely to switch now - any (sensible) responses to that (serious) question?

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Re: How does this help Opera's market share?

It doesn't help their market share at all. Not much they've ever done has increased it beyond a percentage of a percent.

But Opera's rendering engine was never its selling point, even though it was mostly excellent. People like it because it has a nice low footprint and comes with lots of usability enhancements built-in (ad-blocking, mouse gestures, speed dial, etc). FF and Chrome both provide bare-bones browsers that require third-party extensions to come close to Opera's native feature set. When those browsers do get more built-in functionality it tends to be cut-down versions of stuff Opera added a few releases back (compare Chrome or FF's New Tab layouts copied from the far-superior Speed Dial in Opera).

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Re: How does this help Opera's market share?

Oh look, an Opera fanboy! I was wondering where you were in all this. I expect the rest are weeping in a corner.

FF and Chrome both provide bare-bones browsers that require third-party extensions to come close to Opera's native feature set.

That would be the extension framework that Opera insisted it didn't need, then added anyway? And where do you get off calling the two browsers that caned everyone else for years "bare bones"?

Besides, maybe not everyone requires that functionality in the browser. Better to leave it slim and provide optional installers than let it get bloated.

When those browsers do get more built-in functionality it tends to be cut-down versions of stuff Opera added a few releases back (compare Chrome or FF's New Tab layouts copied from the far-superior Speed Dial in Opera).

See, this is the hipster mindset at work. You complain that other browsers don't have features that Opera has, which is fair enough. Then they add those features, and you complain that they "copied them", and refuse to accept the improvement.

Everyone rips off everyone else and you know it. IE7 was a blatant point-for-point copy of Firefox. Everyone and their mother has ripped off Firebug for their developer toolset. Firefox and IE swiped Chrome's minimalist interface (though I turned it off back in FF4, so I can't honestly say if it still looks that way). Firefox went for Chrome's stupid 6-week release cycle (though Jetpack came of that, and Jetpack is awesome). If I were to go back, I'm willing to bet that I can find features in Opera that other browsers had first - so what?

Windows 8 finally added ISO mounting. OMG, how dare they rip off Linux??!

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