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Opera Open Source

Opera Picks Up Webkit Engine 314

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the proprietary-software-dies dept.
New submitter nthitz writes "Opera has announced that they will be dropping their rendering engine Presto, in favor of Webkit. This knocks the number of major rendering engines down to three. Opera will also be adopting the Chromium V8 Javascript engine. The news coincides with their announcement of 300 million users. '300 million marks the first lap, but the race goes on,' says Lars Boilesen, CEO of Opera Software. 'On the final stretch up to 300 million users, we have experienced the fastest acceleration in user growth we have ever seen. Now, we are shifting into the next gear to claim a bigger piece of the pie in the smartphone market.'" They've already submitted patches to improve multi-column layouts even.
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Opera Picks Up Webkit Engine

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  • by McDutchie (151611) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @08:58AM (#42882733) Homepage
    This is bad news. Another step on the way to browser monoculture, with all the problems that can bring. Next thing Firefox will switch to Webkit and we'll have only Webkit browsers and IE left.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It's the natural end point of any "free" market. I don't understand why people have such a hard time understanding this.

    • by Vintermann (400722) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @09:06AM (#42882827) Homepage

      Since Opera's engines were closed source anyway, I don't see the diversity they provided as terribly valuable. If they open source the stuff they're abandoning now (as they definitively should), that will be far more valuable.

      • by c0d3g33k (102699)

        As is often the case when closed code is made free, it may become clear why they decided to switch rather than clean up their own. Proprietary codebases are often a mess compared to a high quality open codebase. Seems to be most common with games, given the extreme deadline pressures they are subject to, but not unheard of in other areas. The value of opening the code is countered by the effort required to clean it up. And if there are gaps left by proprietary bits that can't be opened due to licensing

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          I'm not sure opening the code would bring that much value, but I do agree with you, since it couldn't hurt.

          If some unemployed OCD programmers with a penchant for refactoring code can be turned loose on it, then even a snarly codebase that Opera abandoned might pay us some dividends.

          I'm using Opera Mobile on my Android devices because they are so very pathetic; I have a Nook Simple Touch which runs 2,1 (won't someone please get gingerbread working?) and I have (get ready for it) an AT&T Fuze aka HTC Raphael 110, which can be booted into Gingerbread with very little reliability. But Opera Mobile actually runs

        • by Peter Bortas (130) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @10:11AM (#42883619)

          Operas code is quite clean. Way easier to read and understand than Firefox's. Don't know how it compares to Webkit code-wise.

    • by Bert64 (520050) <bert@s[ ]hdot.fi ... m ['las' in gap]> on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @09:26AM (#42883065) Homepage

      A browser monoculture based on webkit is at least better than a monoculture based on a closed source rendering engine...
      Just how bad it is, really comes down to who controls it and how much input other people have into it.

      Of course without intervention pretty much everything will end up heading towards a monoculture... Linux for instance has pretty much killed the varied proprietary unixes that existed just as x86 has killed the risc processors they ran on.

      So if a monoculture is inevitable, then minimising the damage by keeping it open is the best you can hope for.

      • by CastrTroy (595695)
        Yeah, but there are always downsides to a monoculture. x86 is a big example. It took years longer than it should have to get 64 bit desktop computers because Intel was dragging it's heels. It's only once AMD came up with their own implementation and they had no other choice that they had to go along. Also look at power usage. We are finally getting real serious about mobile computing but Intel is too power hungry so you either get a device with less than stellar battery life, or a device that won't run all
      • by zoward (188110)

        A browser monoculture based on webkit is at least better than a monoculture based on a closed source rendering engine...
        Just how bad it is, really comes down to who controls it and how much input other people have into it.

        Of course without intervention pretty much everything will end up heading towards a monoculture... Linux for instance has pretty much killed the varied proprietary unixes that existed just as x86 has killed the risc processors they ran on.

        So if a monoculture is inevitable, then minimising the damage by keeping it open is the best you can hope for.

        Last I checked, the various flavors of BSD were alive and well (but I haven't confirmed this with Netcraft, so I may be wrong).

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Why this will never happen: http://browserfame.com/363/why-mozilla-gecko-will-not-adopt-webkit

      • That wasn't a good answer. He basically just said that they've tied the browser UI to the render engine and don't want to separate the two. There's no reason they couldn't keep Gecko to handle XUL and keep their JS extensions to support the browser UI. They just don't want to. Add in the comment about WebKit not supporting new JS standards, which has nothing to do with WebKit (WebKit isn't a JS engine) and you're left wondering what the guy is trying to defend.

    • It's no big deal. If some monopolist messed around with a single platform it would be easy to replace html with an ad hoc markup language, make a browser for that and ignore all previous standards. I'm not joking. There is really nothing magic about document markup and "mobile" application frameworks, almost any undergraduate CS student could come up with something better than what we have now, and an alternative WWW would be adopted very swifty if the old one for some reason became inconvenient to most use

    • Next thing Firefox will switch to Webkit

      I very much doubt that. Just research a bit into Firefox development and you'll see this is extremely unlikely. Almost unthinkable.

    • by Sockatume (732728)

      The open source community builds a tool that's so good everone adopts it? Unacceptable!

    • This is bad news. Another step on the way to browser monoculture, with all the problems that can bring.

      From TFA:

      "It was always a goal to be compatible with the real web while also supporting and promoting open standards. That turns out to be a bit of a challenge when you are faced with a web that is not as open as one might have wanted."

      The web isn't open. It never was. Many, many sites only start working properly in Opera when you mask as IE/Firefox, because browser sniffing is still a thing even in 2013.

      The popularity of Webkit also brought its share of problems. Too many blogs and sites raving about exper

  • by Dr. Spork (142693) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @09:00AM (#42882759)
    The Presto rendering engine had some pretty decent performance, and was often the fastest among the graphical browsers. If it's being abandoned, wouldn't it be nice if it were made available as open source? Webkit isn't the right tool for every occasion. I hate to see something so good just die.
    • I can confirm that Opera was the fastest browser before Chrome was on the scene. I visited my aunt once and was trying to use her ancient PC with my thumb drive... Firefox took forever to start, but Opera was instant and browsing was nice and snappy.

      Still nothing compared to how Chrome would perform later, at least on other PCs, but still.

    • You can still use Presto. Just put the following in your document head:

      <meta render-engine="https://www.opera.com/developer/tools/presto-12.14.bin" />

      Ok, that was a joke. Would be cool, though.

  • Cost related? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Tridus (79566) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @09:04AM (#42882795) Homepage

    Just speculation, but I wonder if this is cost related. It can't be cheap to keep Presto up to par with Webkit and Gecko. Using Webkit instead means they can spend less money on that, and devote more to the UI without particularly affecting the browser's standards compliance.

    So in that sense it seems like a sound business decision.

    • by thoth (7907)

      That's exactly what the first link says is the reason:

      it [maintaining Presto] ends up taking up a lot of resources - resources that could have been spent on innovation and polish instead

      and

      Not only will it [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

    • by fermion (181285)
      It is efficiency. We are no longer in a time where people are competing primarily by defining HTML standards. The standards are set and the competition is who can make the best browser experience. This could be integration into other servies, speed, or UI.

      So, as a small company,m,m,. if Opera is to compete it has to make the front end look good, not spend time on the engine. Only MS has the money to spend competing on the engine.

  • Makes sense... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dejanc (1528235) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @09:19AM (#42882977)

    As a web developer, I should be happy about this development, but the fact is: Opera was always standards compliant and as a user I liked how it rendered pages (qucikly and without any white screen gaps between page loads).

    But it probably makes sense for them. Webkit is solid and their costs will probably go down dramatically.

  • Do you mean rendering engine?

    After all the complaints of slashvertisements yesterday, at least something is back to what we are used to over the last 15 years. Complete lack of grammar and editing.

  • Opera is dead after this move. Ever since the founder of Opera left (forced out) Opera has been a sinking ship.

    It was good know you Opera, the web browser that could fit on a floppy in my Windows 98 days.

  • by Matthew Raymond (2631275) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @10:37AM (#42883901)

    The W3C requires at least two implementations of a standard before it can become a Recommendation. Thus, Google needs at least one ally with its own independent browser implementation to push standards through to Recommendation status. Of the five major browser vendors (Microsoft, Google, Apple, Mozilla and Opera), three of them (Google, Apple and Opera) are now all using a single rendering engine: Webkit. Apple may have a separate JavaScript engine, but it's a fierce competitor of Google, as is Microsoft. This leaves only Opera and Mozilla as potential standards partners, and Opera just went Webkit/V8. So, basically, Mozilla becomes Google's de facto ally for Web standards. (As if they weren't already, considering WebRTC.)

    Congratulations, Mozilla. Your continued Google funding is assured.

    • by JDG1980 (2438906)

      The W3C requires at least two implementations of a standard before it can become a Recommendation.

      No one cares about the W3C any more. They've made themselves an irrelevant laughingstock by being years behind the times on updating the HTML and CSS standards. The result is that WebKit is the de facto standard now.

  • How does the Opera company stay alive?

    They've been in operation since... about late '90s? But how exactly? A feature story on them is long overdue.

    • Licensing for portable devices and Wii.

    • by AVee (557523)
      They initially made money selling the browser, later they had an add-supported version besides the paid version. Currently they make money on the desktop from search placements (e.g. using Google as default search engine) and a some stuff like certain bookmarks in the default setup. Besides the desktop they make money from OEMs licensing Opera for with mobile operators and for devices like mobiles and smart tv's.
  • by wonkey_monkey (2592601) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @11:22AM (#42884529) Homepage

    Opera has announced that they will be dropping their rendering ending

    I'd say something like "are the editors even trying any more?" if it hadn't been so clear for so long that no, they're not.

    They've already submitted patches to improve multi-column layouts even.

    Oy vey, what is dis, submit like an old Jewish man day?

  • by sidragon.net (1238654) on Wednesday February 13, 2013 @11:42AM (#42884767)

    Consider the goal: invariably produce specific output for specific input. Given certain markup, styles, and scripts, there's an expected result, and that result should be the same across all browsers. That's is why we have standards. Those standards help make the Web a great platform.

    What, then, is the purpose of WebKit, Gecko, Presto, and Trident—four modern browser engines—all consuming development resources, each in pursuit of the exact same standards? If each were successful, we'd have four completely duplicative pieces of software when we only need exactly one.

    Some people here are claiming about monoculture. Well, sorry, these aren't biological organisms. Imagine if, instead of having resources divided four ways, those resources were focused on a single project (or, at least, some of those resources were contributing to projects that aren't waste heat). These products are nearly as complex as operating systems. Think about what could be accomplished with all that poorly allocated effort?

    Now Opera have come in and helped illustrate my point. They finally realized it's inefficient for them to reinvent the wheel a fourth time. (Maybe Microsoft will do the same.) They may have also realized all this redundant effort also create unnecessary work for web developers, who must perform grueling work and testing to understand and react to the subtle differences in all these engines. With this decision, they can get their engineering talent to focus on useful development, and they've saved the rest of us quite a bit of time, too.

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