Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Opera Dumps Own Rendering Engine in Favor of WebKit

Opera Software today announced that the company will switch rendering engine of all their products to WebKit, confirming rumors that broke out when the Norwegian browser maker unveiled a WebKit based browser for Android a few weeks ago. Until now, Opera used their own in-house rendering and JavaScript engines called Presto and Kraken, that were in active development since 1995. These will be replaced by WebKit and V8 JavaScript engine, the same ones used by Chrome.

Opera promises that the change is primarily "under the hood" and that the move won’t affect existing extensions as these can be converted into a format that can be used by Chromium-based Opera. The company is however silent whether this will affect the dozens of other Opera features which are unique to the browser. Features like Mail, RSS reader, Speed Dial, Turbo compression, Mouse gestures, Tab grouping and hundreds of nifty tricks that makes Opera stand apart from the rest of the flock.

As a long time Opera user I’m both elated and apprehensive of the direction Opera is taking. Embracing WebKit would greatly enhance website compatibility, but I’m not sure whether it justifies sacrificing a 20-year old rendering engine and all the features it supports.

The first product using WebKit will be for Smartphones, which we'll demonstrate at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona at the end of the month. Opera Desktop and other products will transition later.

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