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General Discussion

Andrew Chalkley
STAFF
Andrew Chalkley
Treehouse Guest Teacher

What Opera's switch to WebKit Means to Web Professionals

After Opera's announcement I put some thoughts together on the Treehouse blog.

What do you all think?

20 Answers

Great news for everyone, users and developers. However, Microsoft should just kill IE, not switch to WebKit.

It's easy to knock IE, but don't forget just how innovative and influential it has been. It allowed for an awful lot of what we take for granted on the web today, especially Asynchronous Javascript and XML, without which web apps like Gmail wouldn't exist.

Bruce Lawson's take on this announcement is interesting, as is John Resig's.

Jones Dias
Jones Dias
13,902 Points

Awesome news @Andrew

Andrew Chalkley
STAFF
Andrew Chalkley
Treehouse Guest Teacher

@Simon - You're right w.r.t. AJAX - interesting how a proprietary became eventually standardized. But eventually Microsoft had to implement this again in a standards compliant way. Wouldn't it be great if they just pushed something like AJAX to WebKit core and each vendor decided to adopt it or not through a pull. It would be stupid not to share that type of thing.

James Barnett
James Barnett
39,199 Points

Ever since Firefox Opera has been merely a peculiarity in terms of market share.

Opera is currently notable for their Opera mobile and Opera Mini products. The question here is if Opera Mini will be changed over to WebKit, if so that could be huge for web browsers on not-so smart phones.

Andrew Chalkley
STAFF
Andrew Chalkley
Treehouse Guest Teacher

I remember pre-iPhone a Nokia having a WebKit browser. It rendered amazing, and JS ran smoothly on it. So "feature phones" seem to be capable. I wonder if that was a precursor to the Safari we have on the iPhone.

I wonder if Apple forcing iOS' version to have the OS' WebView WebKit had any baring.

James Barnett
James Barnett
39,199 Points

@Andrew - Nokia is still a big deal on phones in Africa & India where mobile usage is huge. Interesting stats over at stat counter.

@Paul It's easy for people to get on the "IE bad, kill IE" bandwagon, but a lot of things we have today such as @font-face and AJAX.

The reason Opera switching from Presto to Webkit is such a big deal is that it leaves one less option for browsers in the wild. I know you're thinking, "Why do I care about that? This will make it easier for me to develop".

You don't remember the days when there was only IE and Netscape. Internet Explorer was as close to being a monopoly in the browser field. It wasn't until Firefox took up the flag for Netscape that the browser market share started to change.

If there hadn't been diversity in the browser marketplace, we might be working in a very different development environment today. So read up on your history, and don't be so quick to diss a particular browser just because not having it around would make you job easier. You are always going to have to deal with cross browser issues as a web developer.

James Barnett
James Barnett
39,199 Points

I'd like to :+1: what @John said.

Also to add that there was a time when Netscape was on it's last legs and before Firefox existed that there was shining point in the wilderness called Opera. I fondly remember discovering Opera then and it was pretty awesome.

Andrew Chalkley
STAFF
Andrew Chalkley
Treehouse Guest Teacher

Remember these were all closed source ventures with single monolithic organisations behind them. That being said, IE6 was great for a while, it was better than what was out there. It innovated but then stagnated.

I don't see WebKits adoption as the same as IE6. It's open which is the key difference and the chances of stagnation are smaller.

I don't see Opera adopting WebKit the same as IE back in the day either. The web has moved from being mostly proprietary to bring mostly open-source. This also leads to faster innovation cycles, since so many people are contributing now.

It will be interesting to see how Opera's mobile browser evolves from here, as I see more people using that than the desktop version.

James Barnett
James Barnett
39,199 Points

I'm very interested to see what happens to Opera Mini as it uses Opera's servers to speed up processing on the not-so-smart phones it's installed on. Currently Opera's mobile presence is a kinda big deal in places like Africa, India & South America.

@James I remember the first time someone introduced me to Opera. I thought it was weird, but it had a ton of cool features that made it (still) unique.

A lot of developers starting today don't realize that a lot of the pain has been taken out of their work already.

It would be interesting to envision alternate realities of the web where Opera and Firefox never came to exist, or if Steve Jobs had never come back to Apple.

We need those bridging technologies to get to the glory days that exist in the present.

Great point, James. We spend so much time focusing on what's happening here in the US and Europe that we forget how integrated mobile is in other countries that we think of as third world. Even here in the States, mobile is the default gateway to the internet for lower income people.

In Africa and India, the majority of transactions take place over mobile. Lots of implications and stories play out from decisions such as these.

It seems like people disagree with me on IE...

John Locke
John Locke
15,479 Points

@Paul It's not that other developers think that IE is a better browser than Chrome or Safari, but suggesting that Microsoft simply "kill" IE is an incredibly simplistic view. Sure, it would make your job easier as far as cross browser testing, but guess what? There are always going to be new browsers that you have to test in. History proves this. And part of your job is to know how to make everything work in each browser. Otherwise, anyone could do it.

Has IE always been a pain point for developers? Yes. But Windows is a very ubiquitous platform, and the majority of people in the world are not web developers. They will use whatever browser comes packaged with the operating system.

The point is, even if Internet Explorer never existed at all, you would still have some browser that didn't play nice with the rest of the Web. You should be happy that Microsoft has made great strides with IE9 and 10 to catch up to Google, Apple, and Mozilla.

James Barnett
James Barnett
39,199 Points

And IE10 is going to be huge, it has HTML5 & CSS3 support on par with Safari 5.1 & Opera 11 and few people are bitching about those browsers.

Also in IE10 an autoupdating engine similar to Firefox's is being added, to help combat this issue in the future.

@Paul Perhaps reading this will give you a great understanding of it all. :)

http://www.w3.org/People/Raggett/book4/ch02.html