Opera moves to the WebKit rendering engine
The move causes observers to worry about the diminishing diversity of Web rendering engines
IDG News Service - Creating some consternation in the Web development community, Opera Software is switching from a home-built rendering engine to the more widely used open-source WebKit, now employed in the Apple Safari and Google Chrome browsers.
"It makes more sense to have our experts working with the open source communities ... rather than developing our own rendering engine further," said Opera Chief Technology Officer HAY=kon Wium Lie in a statement. The company also plans to use portions of Google's Chromium experimental Web browser project.
Rendering engines, also called layout engines, are an essential component of browsers. They render the source code provided to the browser as a finished Web page. WebKit started as KDE Software's KHTML, the open-source rendering engine for the Konqueror browser and file manager.
Although never as widely used as Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox, the Opera browser now has 300 million monthly users, the company recently announced. First developed as a browser that required relatively minimal computer resources, Opera today is perhaps most widely found in Android and Apple iOS devices, as well as in other phones and Internet-connected consumer electronic devices.
Not everyone is pleased with the move from Opera's previous rendering engine, Presto. "The big loss for the Web is a further decrease in the diversity of browser engines, especially on mobile devices," wrote Mozilla developer Robert O'Callahan in a blog post. He noted that there are now only two other rendering engines in widespread use other than WebKit, namely Microsoft's Trident and Mozilla's Gecko.
An Opera employee who posts online under the name "Haavard" downplayed concerns of an emerging layout-engine monoculture, however. "While different browsers are competing with each other, the Web is actually competing with native applications," he wrote in a blog post that announced the release. "The Web may not be fully open, but it is far more open than the closed world of [apps]. If moving to WebKit allows Opera to gain more power and strengthen the browser as an open application platform, it will benefit the now semi-open Web in the competition against fully closed apps."
Opera plans to redirect its layout-engine developers to contribute to WebKit. They have already started making improvements in the way multicolumn layouts can be rendered.
"Not only will [switching to WebKit] free up significant engineering resources at Opera and allow us to do more innovation instead of constantly trying to adapt to the Web, but our users should benefit from better site compatibility and more innovative features and polish," Haavard wrote.
- Path Selection Infographic Path Selection Infographic
- Hyperconvergence Infographic A wide range of observers agree that data centers are now entering an era of "hyperconvergence" that will raise network traffic levels faster...
- Preparing Your Infrastructure for the Hyperconvergence Era From cloud computing and virtualization to mobility and unified communications, an array of innovative technologies is transforming today's data centers.
- Increase IT Performance from the Enterprise to the Cloud with WAN Optimization Massive consolidation and data mobility, enabled by virtualization, have radically altered how we build servers, design applications, and deploy storage for the emerging...
- Live Webcast
Transforming Finance, Procurement and Supply Chain Effectiveness with Cross-Functional Analytics
Date: May 6th, 2014
Time: 1 PM EDT
Attend this Webcast to find out how Oracle's packaged analytic applications enable line-of-business managers to examine all...
- Video Stream Quality Impacts Viewer Behavior This scientific white paper, using statistical data from Amakai's streaming network, analyzes how changes in video quality cause changes in viewer behavior.
- Service-Enabling CICS Applications: Best Practices This informative webcast provides an informed, thorough look into CICS service-enablement options and how they can affect your environment. You'll learn how to... All Applications White Papers | Webcasts