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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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FAIL

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

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

Chrome download: 45MB (basic browser)

Firefox download: 20MB (basic browser)

Opera downlad: 10MB (browser, mail client, IRC, RSS, bit torrent and loads more).

Yep, you seem like a real expert who I can trust.....

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JDX
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MS/IE

I think switching IE would be a massive issue for enterprise users, surely, who don't want a tool to have a new version all the time - even if it fixes bugs.

Long term, now there are all these 3rd-party browsers, is there any real point MS making a browser at all? Back in the day they had to but now... what if MS hatched a deal with Opera/Firefox to be the default browser on Windows? It's Bing they care about not IE surely?

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Re: MS/IE

Enterprises should have learned their lesson after the IE6 debacle - switching away from IE8/9/10 is now a lot easier than it was when businesses were locked into running IE6.

Firms I know that have gone through the pain of IE6 withdrawal are now running browser-based systems that are a lot more standards compliant, and no longer dependent on IE quirks. In a worst case situation they'll continue running IE6 in a VM (or over rdp) to access the ancient and non-standard browser app, but use Chrome/Firefox for everything else.

If there is one good thing that can be said about IE6, it's that it finally focused enterprises attention on how not to be locked into a single vendor solution with no immediate upgrade path. Microsoft are still paying the price for their IE6 mistake, that of ever decreasing browser market share.

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Re: MS/IE

I wasn't talking about IE6, but IE in general and the way it's rolled out/supported.

Also of course, it doesn't matter how canny a company has been insisting pages are good on all main browsers, if you use any kind of custom plugin you're just as locked into IE10 with ActiveX as you were IE6. There ARE cross-browser plugin projects but that means re-writing your plugin just as people had to rewrite IE6-specific stuff.

Plugins still serve a real purpose in many niches.

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Re: MS/IE

I wasn't talking about IE6, but IE in general and the way it's rolled out/supported.

And so am I talking about IE in general, in that the fall out from IE6 has reduced the dependency on IE in general, and which now makes it possible for MS to consider a future switch without too much pain (certainly a lot less pain than 2-3 years ago).

If MS announced the end of IE and a switch to Webkit tomorrow, there would be ways to continue running "legacy" IE for those that needed it (vm's, rdp, even plug-ins), and for everyone else there would be rejoicing.

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JDX
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Re: MS/IE

If MS announced the end of IE, we'd end up with exactly the IE6 problem all over again. Companies would simply end up sticking with IE9/10 for their in-house tools for years and years, while the rest of the world moves further and further away and the work to address porting the tools gets greater and greater.

ActiveX remains a very big deal and since it's clearly never going to be introduced to other browsers, this is rather a sticking point as I see it. Meanwhile, Google want to introduce their own alternative to ActiveX, rather than get behind NPAPI.

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A sad day that competitive development ceases

but at least its open source unlike that rubbish IE we all had shoved down our throats years ago

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Re: A sad day that competitive development ceases

Oh yes, the "open source is automatically better" argument.

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Trollface

Re: @JDX

*Troll detected*

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Stop

the "open source is automatically better" argument.

And your argument as to why open source isn't better is...?

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Trollface

Re: No Steven! It's a trap!

Didn't you see my public service troll advisory?

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Re: the "open source is automatically better" argument.

>>And your argument as to why open source isn't better is...?

It's a stupid topic... you might as well ask if dogs are better than cats. Some OSS things are great, others are crap. Same closed software. FOSS is only demonstrably better when the FOSS equivalent has an active community who actually bother working on it, against a closed alternative which is poorly supported.

Simply slapping on an "it's open source" badge is about as meaningful as a "Windows Vista compatible badge".

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Anonymous Coward

Re: the "open source is automatically better" argument.

“And your argument as to why open source isn't better is...?”

Well it certainly isn't GIMP vs Photoshop. Or anything that competes with Premier, inDesign (or the rest of CS6 come to that), Quark, Vegas Pro or even, dare I say it, Flash! Yes I know it's evil crap, but it still offers developers and project managers what they want while HTML5 and Dragonfly do not.

There's good and bad in both OS and proprietary, it's just a shame that people get so religious and pious about it. People also confuse adequacy with equality. Open Office may well offer the average home user 99% of everything they need from MS Office, but that doesn't mean it's better or equally good.

The same goes for free Internet security compared to Kapersky, Norton, McAfee & co. If it were true that the free firewalls and AV are just as good, the companies offering them wouldn't also ubiquitously offer 'pro' 1-5 user versions for pretty much the same cost as 1-5 user Norton/Kapersky/McAfee Internet Security disc from PC World at one of their perpetual 'sale' prices.

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Pint

Another one down

Chalk another death up to Google doing no evil...

Bye bye Opera, it was fun.

/Beer - I'll have one for you.

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Pint

Re: Another one down

Sorry, but I cannot see your point.

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Re: Another one down

Your lack of comprehension is not something us commentards can help you with Lars. Try the helpdesk. :)

Opera's rendering engine being killed off in favour of Google's - that's most definitely a bad day. It doesn't really matter if Opera's renderer was good or not, it matters that a genuine alternative is going (or gone) leaving chrome (the new IE4) to dominate with it's own nonstandards and sites that work with nothing else.

* And no, Nets^h^h^h^h Firefox is not worth mentioning, too many people have been burned there.

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Re: Another one down

Opera's rendering engine being killed off in favour of Google's

Webkit belongs to Google now? When the fuck did that happen? Last I checked, Apple spun it off from KHTML.

* And no, Nets^h^h^h^h Firefox is not worth mentioning, too many people have been burned there.

If by "burned" you mean "have enjoyed a consistently accurate rendering engine".

I don't mind Opera using Webkit, so long as they don't use whatever buggy-as-hell bleeding-edge version Chrome uses. I'll keep using Gecko though.

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WTF?

Re: Another one down

What;s Google got to do with this?

Opera have CHOSEN to adopt Webkit, nobody forced them (well the lazy developers that only bothered testing with webkit actually forced them), but it's not really Google's fault.

All you have ended up doing is looking like a nutter that hates Google automatically, because Apple or Microsoft told you to hate them.

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Facepalm

Re: Another one down

Firefox is not worth mentioning, too many people have been burned there.

WTF am I reading?

RICHTO, is that you?

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Re: Another one down

Quick, someone attacked Google! Thank the makers that Shitpeas is around to decent their honour. :-/

FWIW, for once he's right. This seems to be a decision driven by the success of WebKit as a rendering engine. V8 (Opera are adopting the Chromium branch after all) is a shit hot JavaScript engine too. Obviously the stuff about Apple/Microsoft telling everyone to hate on Google is just Bazza's paranoid fanboism.

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Re: Another one down

"Opera's rendering engine being killed off in favour of Google's - that's most definitely a bad day. It doesn't really matter if Opera's renderer was good or not, it matters that a genuine alternative is going (or gone)"

Rubbish. As a long-time Opera user, I can't see any real downside to this, as long as they integrate all of the current features properly.

The rendering engine is insignificant, as long as it renders HTML, CSS, JS, etc., as the specs say. How else are we ever going to leave the current round of hacks in order to make a simpel webpage appear the same on all browsers?

I dream of the day people no longer need to check a user agent string.

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Unhappy

I shall be sad to see Opera become a WebKit replicant browser like so many of the others out there.

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Although...

If Opera starts contributing to WebKit, is it possible that bits of Presto might find it's way into the source tree?

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Re: Although...

Yeah, never mind. I re-read the article and it's there in paragraph five. Still good to know.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Although...

The problem there might be Opera's corporate clients, who may have chosen Opera partly on the basis that it's closed source. By the time they've moved on and no longer care, either Presto's code will be out of date or someone will have already patched Webkit using the same coding methods written from scratch.

Plus, it remains to be seen just how much Opera can affect Webkit's source code. It's unlikely they'd be able to change big things, only add patches to fix bugs or improve the implementation of W3C specs. chopping and changing the architecture of Webkit to allow (for example) user preferences to work differently in the Opera browser shell is likely to be rejected because it's not what Google or Apple want.

But I think whilst everyone's now looking at Trident, it's actually Firefox that is under the most pressure. MS has plenty of reasons and money to keep working on Trident. For a start, it's more than just a browser rendering engine for domestic users, so switching to Webkit could alienate corporate users with custom apps and intranets. Would MS go as far as using both Trident and Webkit, only using Trident in compatibility modes?

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WTF?

Re: Although...

"The problem there might be Opera's corporate clients, who may have chosen Opera partly on the basis that it's closed source."

Any business that chooses a closed source browser based on the criterion that it IS closed-source, in the absence of coercion by legislation - deserves everything coming to them.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Although...

Already has. Well, almost. They've submitted a set of patches to improve the way WebKit renders columns in CSS, putting it on a par with Presto.

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Devil

Now that that's settled.

Opera should release the presto engine under a BSD/Apache/Your flavour of open source license and see what a community can do with it. Then even after the switch nothing has truly been lost.

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Anonymous Coward

IEOpera

Anyone remember an IE GUI called IEOpera that tried to mimic Opera's GUI on the IE engine? Opera's lawyers objected, so it became Avant Browser instead. The irony is that Opera is now going to become a GUI for Webkit.

A rendering engine is more than just how a browser lays out a page. It defines the character of the browser itself. The way Opera instantly reflows pages accurately when you toggle the side bar or zoom is all part of the rendering engine (one of the reasons I always preferred it over clunky IE, and even Firefox on slower machines years ago). Many of the things Opera allows or does better than rivals are down to the architecture of its own rendering engine too. Not everything will be transferable to Webkit. Other things will be copied but won't work quite the same way.

And where does this leave Opera's additional components such as IRC, email, RSS etc? Will they either completely change or be dropped like some other features have been recently?

Will all my user javascripts, used to customise websites or do strange and wonderful things to them break?

Switching to Webkit is more than just changing rendering engines. It's going to be the end of Opera as we know it. I'm sure someone will argue about market shares and compatibility etc, but that's no comfort to existing long term users who have chosen it for the way it feels and behaves.

Given the trend over the last decade to follow standards and the cooperation of browser vendors in creating HTML5, I doubt whether this is really about compatibility. Opera weathered that problem right through the original browser wars over three rendering engines. The current browser war has been about implementing HTML5 and speeding things up, and Opera has kept up there too. I think this is really about making the company leaner and more profitable by reducing staff and the costs of maintaining Presto. Realistically, what are they going to make the core devs do instead over the next 10 years? hey'll be eased out through natural wastage or redundancies in due course. Given how the mail and chat clients have always hobbled along on a shoestring budget, I doubt they'll suddenly pour resources into them. Mail is no longer important to Opera as it was in the days before social networking.

So, it's a shame but it doesn't surprise me much. From the moment Jon von Tetzchner was ousted by the board, the Opera of old was on borrowed time, both as a company and a browser.

Is any of Chrome not open source? If Opera use an OS engine but proprietary browser shell, that's going to give another angle for its closed source bashers.

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Maybe the problem is...

That web servers actually KNOW what browser is out there. If they all rendered pages "correctly" there wouldn't be a need to know. Unfortunately, there are differences, and web servers have adapted. Had there been a reasonable "standard" which everyone followed and a test suite that the standards published, we wouldn't have problems like this.

So, here we are with a multitude of rendering engines that all have their own quirks, and us gullible users accept what browser vendors put out.

I'll believe that things improve when that ugly browser gets rid of the abomination called "ActiveX" which is the source of security holes that trucks drive through.

I'm not holding my breath!

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Unhappy

It's a Sad Day

For all the reasons mentioned before, it's a sad day.

It was always on the cards but I thought that with Opera's superb mobile browsers and success in the embedded market, cached servers etc, they'd survive as a standalone, independent and innovative company.

An (99.999%) exclusive Opera user (and fan) for over a dozen years.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It's a Sad Day

Sad day? It's an amazing day...

Opera fan for about 7+ years, and I really don't care whats under the hood. If moving to a different layout and javascript engine means that Opera developers can focus more on the BROWSER and it's UI, rather than deep internals and duplicating functionality that's already been done by Webkit, then it gets my vote.

It's unlikely most users will even notice the change. It's really no different to all the American muscle cars all sharing the same V8 block, but all offering something unique. That's how I see thing thing going.

Opera will be VERY far from a chrome skin, that's utter drivel, it will be what we know it today, minus (some incompatible features)... I would expect to see turbo to go (as it's network, nothing to do with layout or JS), ditto mail, ditto keyboard nav, or any of the other user interface elements.

The only thing that does intrigue me, is how they are going to get Opera Mini's OBML working with Webkit...

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Unhappy

Re: It's a Sad Day

I sort of do care what's under the hood and one of the main reasons is security.

I have trusted Opera in this regard for many, many years.

And one less browser developer on its own, makes it a sad day.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It's a Sad Day

You just explained why all American muscle cars suck. The unique bit is their inability to go around corners.

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Gold badge

Re: Webkit is open source with a snag

"If everyone uses webkit then web page makers will test against webkit instead of w3c standards."

Exactly.

I don't know what the W3C's policy is, but best practice for RFCs is not to accept them unless you have at least two independent and interoperable implementations. For HTML5, we could soon be relying on Microsoft to provide that second implementation. Both MS and webkit would, in effect, have power of veto over the standardisation process because you couldn't achieve "quorum" without them.

But I don't see why Opera should have to bear the cost of keeping everyone else honest, so it is hard to criticise their decision.

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Pfft. WebKit.

I knew it BEFORE it became popular, back when we called it KHTML. Yes I am the HIPSTER of web browsers. (Ask me about Project Mnemonic sometime).

And to think all those years ago people were blasting the KDE project for creating KHTML and making their file manager act as a web browser (KDE 1.1). KHTML...the little widget that could.

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Good news

The company that invented HTML5, CSS and other things everyone takes for granted on the web, are now also working on pushing Webkit forward.

How can anyone spin that into a negative?

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Re: Android

It's good for WebKit, but it's bad for the Web as a whole. The judge is out if it will be any good for people who appreciate Opera.

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Re: Android

The judge is out if it will be any good for people who appreciate Opera.

I'm sure they'll both get over it eventually.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Android

300m users Opera users, idiot...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Android

300m users Opera users, idiot...

How many of those 300m users are Nintendo Wii users who couldn't give a stuff about Opera, assuming they even know who or what Opera is?

As to the original comment, those that care about Opera can probably counted on the fingers of one hand.

I've used Opera, on mobile devices, and it's nice, but they have been fighting a losing battle for some time now. They have a nice UI, their browser is highly portable and has some nice features, but if Opera can leverage Webkit (and even improve it) to achieve the same rendering performance as they have now then there is no point whatsoever in continuing to maintain and develop Presto.

Opera can swap Webkit for Presto and other than web developers and the Opera CFO, nobody will notice.

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FAIL

"Pointless task" - wha?

Rather bizarre to refer to the act of building/maintaining an independent browser rendering engine as a "pointless task".

Then again I suppose it's trendy these days for everyone to all jump on the same bandwagon for some strange lemming-like reason.

I can't imagine the likes of Tim Berners-Lee would find these developments positive for the ecosystem. Sure there are obvious cost advantages for Opera to take this new path but they've been struggling with the same Catch-22 for years in terms of usage/popularity. The tech press comes in for a good share of the blame in my book because they have been practically criminally ignoring Opera for many years now, despite the fact that many of the most important and innovative features introduced in web browsers over the last 15 years were introduced by Opera first.

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Really disappointing

I'm not a user of Opera but it is disappointing they have caved. I can appreciate their difficulty but webkit/chromium is now just another monopoly (and don't give me all that open source crap). Monopolies are monopolies no matter how benign they appear. Sure someone can take the code and do their own thing but as the Opera team has shown, that's really tough. Meanwhile humans will be humans and will politic to control this now more valuable resource (which so far as I can tell is already controlled indirectly by the Apple/Google duopoly).

The use of the Eclipse analogy is unfortunate. As a daily user of both Eclipse and Visual Studio, I much prefer the Microsoft environment. If webkit is to be Eclipse that's really no recommendation. There's no reason to believe Microsoft will throw in the towel so there's at least one mainstream alternative to keep the webkiters somewhat in line.

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Stop

Opera better on Reg Hardware

I've only fired up Opera once in a long while, and that was to check what was up with new style The Reg Hardware pages where images overlap or underlap the right hand column, when viewd in FireFox and Chrome. Opera, however, rendered them correctly.

I'd still urge The reg to fix the pages, and to get rid of the highest rated comments box which is completely unnecessary.

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They would rather get along than be right.

The number of 'valid' pages which render incorrectly in the Opera browser is low; as, Opera has usually closely followed the standards. But, what percentage of sites are made entirely of valid (X)HTML and CSS? Creating valid code is not that difficult; but, it does require an incremental effort. And, apparently most professional web developers only care how their sites perform in the browsers being used by the people who pay them.

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