Hey Presto…

These are, as with everything else, my own points of view. I’d have them even if I didn’t work for Mozilla. I don’t have anything to do with the Firefox team, anyway.

If you’re a web developer, it’s highly unlikely that you’ve not heard the news that Opera is ditching Presto in favour of WebKit. (If you’re not a web developer, it’s highly unlikely you’ve heard of Opera!)

Various opinions have been given already, many from people within relevant organisations including Google, Mozilla, and Opera. You probably want to start with those — they’re certainly more eloquent than I’m going to be.

My biggest take-away from this whole scenario is that we’re now one player down at the table. Yes, Opera can and will contribute to an open project, but essentially we have one less voice about how things should and could be implemented. New ideas can still be developed, but there is only one -webkit prefix. If the Chrome team decides to put something out first, where does that leave the Opera team? Opera and Chrome (and Safari) could maintain their own forks, of course, but then which -webkit-x are we looking at?

Ultimately, however, the Priority of Constituencies springs to mind, and Bruce nails it when he says:

… a browser is much more than a rendering engine. Very few consumers of the web choose a browser because of its rendering engine – they just expect it to work.

Many, if not most, FEDs are lazy, and (not helped by the many bad examples out there) only develop and test against WebKit browsers. You’ll probably disagree with that statement (and it is somewhat subjective, I’ll grant you!), but I have a feeling it’s true. Yes, you’re awesome, but you’re in a minority of awesomeness. So ultimately, on a day-to-day level at least, users will be better off. They were better off when Opera decided to support -webkit prefixes, and they’re better off now.

Long term? It remains to be seen. But I think innovation just got that little bit harder.

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