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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  1. John Robson Silver badge

    But if IE uses chromium/webkit as well then

    it might actually render pages correctly...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      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?

    2. Scrote

      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.

    3. DrXym Silver badge

      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.

      1. Steve the Cynic Silver badge
        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 ...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          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.

          1. Steve the Cynic Silver badge

            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.

      2. teebie

        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

  2. sorry, what?
    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.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: An asIDE on ECLIPSE

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

    2. vic 4

      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?

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. Anonymous Coward
      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.

  3. ratfox Silver badge
    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...

  4. Lloyd Kinsella
    Thumb Down

    "Only Redmond left drinking out of own browser plumbing"

    Except you forget Mozilla with Gecko?

    1. joeW

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

      1. Anonymous Coward
        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.

        1. Jean-Paul
          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...

          1. Anonymous Coward
            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.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          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.

          1. Quxy
            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.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              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.

  5. Irongut
    FAIL

    Only Redmond left drinking out of own browser plumbing

    So when did Mozilla stop writing Firefox?

    1. LinkOfHyrule
      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?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      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....

  6. Scrote

    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.

    1. fix

      @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.

      1. Psycho Flump

        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.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          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..

    2. TeeCee Gold badge
      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......

    3. Ian Yates

      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.

    4. Someone Else Silver badge
      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?)

    5. Sean Kennedy

      "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.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      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.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    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?

    1. ScissorHands
      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.

      1. 100113.1537

        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.

        1. Ian Yates
          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.

        2. mjones52

          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.

  8. ScissorHands
    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.

    1. Chad H.

      Re: Another one bites the dust

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

      1. ScissorHands
        Holmes

        Re: Another one bites the dust

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

  9. Roby

    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.

  10. Phrontis

    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

    1. Martin Gregorie Silver badge

      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.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        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/

    2. Lars Silver badge
      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.

  11. JDX Gold badge

    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?

    1. Mark McC

      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).

      1. Greg J Preece

        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??!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          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.....

  12. JDX Gold badge

    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?

    1. Zola
      Go

      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.

      1. JDX Gold badge

        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.

        1. Zola
          Go

          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.

          1. JDX Gold badge

            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.

  13. Alan Denman

    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

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Re: A sad day that competitive development ceases

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

      1. Comments are attributed to your handle
        Trollface

        Re: @JDX

        *Troll detected*

      2. Steven Roper
        Stop

        the "open source is automatically better" argument.

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

        1. Comments are attributed to your handle
          Trollface

          Re: No Steven! It's a trap!

          Didn't you see my public service troll advisory?

        2. JDX Gold badge

          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".

        3. Anonymous Coward
          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.

  14. The obvious
    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.

    1. Lars Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Another one down

      Sorry, but I cannot see your point.

      1. The obvious
        Facepalm

        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.

        1. Greg J Preece

          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.

        2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
          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?

        3. Ian Yates

          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.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      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.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Facepalm

        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.

  15. Matthew 25
    Unhappy

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

  16. John Gamble

    Although...

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

    1. John Gamble

      Re: Although...

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

    2. Anonymous Coward
      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?

      1. Steen Hive
        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.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      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.

  17. mIRCat
    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.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    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.

  19. Herby Silver badge

    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!

  20. Mark Jan
    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.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      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...

      1. Mark Jan
        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.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        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.

  21. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    1. Ken Hagan 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.

  22. W.O.Frobozz

    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.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    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?

    1. ScissorHands

      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.

      1. Zola

        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.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Android

          300m users Opera users, idiot...

          1. Anonymous Coward
            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.

  24. Phil Koenig
    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.

  25. Sirius Lee

    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.

  26. druck Silver badge
    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.

  27. William Phelps

    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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