Opera Fully Adopts WebKit

Web browser, Opera has moved away from using its own Presto rendering platform to the open source equivalent, WebKit; in a change that Opera developers will hope to streamline testing allowing them to concentrate on new features to both the desktop and mobile iterations of the browser. This development shows an on-going trend in the use of WebKit and will therefore have some relevance to webmasters when it comes to optimising sites for presentation and speed across browsers that utilise WebKit technology.

Opera has also announced plans to release a new mobile browsing platform that has been codenamed ‘Ice’. Opera have recently enjoyed an increasing amount of use for their browsers, clocking up over 300 million unique monthly users on platforms including tablets, mobile phones and desktops.

The Chief Technology Officer for Opera, Hakon Wium released a statement to TheNextWeb discussing the motivations behind the move:

“Now that we are using off-the-shelf components [like Webkit], it makes sense for our engineers to focus on what’s valuable rather than building something in parallel. We feel that we can swap the engines behind our browsers quite easily, which will enable us to build even better products for you 300 million users.”

Wium went on to hint that the Opera team may actually actively take part in improving the open source software that powers WebKit based browsers:

“The WebKit engine is already very good, and we aim to take part in making it even better. It supports the standards we care about, and it has the performance we need.”

WebKit started life all the way back in 1998 as a HTML layout engine named KHTML that was being worked on within Apple. The technology has since evolved to become used across multiple browsers and in 2005 it was made open source, allowing developers and engineers across the globe to contribute to the project. Opera’s adoption of WebKit technology will further increase the software’s installation base which may mean webmasters will want to focus more of their attention to optimising their sites specifically with WebKit rendering in mind. Websites can be readily optimised for WebKit by using several factors including using WebKit based specific cascading style sheet (CSS) mark-up. WebKit is extensively used across mobile browsers including the offerings from iOS and Android so webmasters may also wish to consider mobile specific optimisation such as responsive design solutions that allow content to be rendered appropriately across a wide range of screen sizes.

This news follows an announcement made by Opera that they are releasing a new mobile browsing platform that has been developed under the codename of ‘Ice’. Opera hopes the new browser will compete against other extremely popular platforms that are already in use on iOS and Android based devices. Ice aims to revolutionise the way mobile users interact with the internet, favouring gestures over in-built buttons.

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