Web browser news: Opera to drop Presto and move to WebKit

By Grant Jacobs 14/02/2013

Web browser company Opera has announced it is to stop developing it’s independent web page rendering engine, Presto, and take up WebKit.

They’re also moving to using V8 as their JavaScript engine, dropping Carakan.

The author of the announcement has, separately, offered his personal thoughts on the event.

The announcement says that Opera will demonstrate a Smartphone version at the end of the month.

Discussions on the development elsewhere are, as expected, rife – for example at ArsTechnica.

My initial thoughts?

I’ll focus on their free computer web browser. I can’t comment on mobile browser market, that’s not something I know much about. Most commentators point to that it brings them in line with other mobile web browsers and may make the company more appealing to investors.

Opera has pushed the standardisation issue, that different web browsers should render pages the same way. Now this isn’t the issue it once was. It’s still not perfect by any means, but it is a faint shadow of how it used to be. A point here is that in terms of standardisation Opera having their own rendering engine isn’t as much of a distinguishing point any more and maintaining it would be a large burden.

Opera has also been a pioneer introducing new user features some that other browsers have since taken up or developed their own counterparts. This I think is much more of an issue.

Google’s Chrome browser is also based on WebKit. They started small, adding user features as they progressed.

Opera won’t have that luxury. They have a rich feature set that users will have come accustomed to and expect.

The challenge then, as I see it, is to not break too many of these user  features, too badly.

It will, of course, depend on which features are tied to the rendering  engine. This may be less of an issue for their mobile browsers. It will be interesting to see how their computer browser fares from the transition.

WebKit was originally developed by Apple, based on the open-source KHTML project.

Less is being said about Opera dropping their JavaScript engine.

Other articles in Code for life:

Safari v Opera

Web browsers (not-quite part 2)

What is your relationship with your research notebook?

Bioinformatics curriculum

Research project coding v. end-user application coding (in bioinformatics)

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