Opera Goes WebKit

Interesting news yesterday that Opera is dropping their custom backend for WebKit. WebKit is the HTML rendering engine used by Safari, iPhone, iPad, Android, Chrome, and BlackBerry with its latest OS. From the press release:

When we first began, back in 1995, we had to roll our own rendering engine in order to compete against the Netscape and Internet Explorer to drive web standards, and thus the web forward. When we started the spec that is now called “HTML5”, our goal was a specification that would greatly enhance interoperability across the web.

The WebKit project now has the kind of standards support that we could only dream of when our work began. Instead of tying up resources duplicating what’s already implemented in WebKit, we can focus on innovation to make a better browser. Opera innovations such as tabbed browsing, Speed Dial and data-saving compression that speeds up page-load, have been widely copied and improved the web for all.

Some developers will be concerned that innovation will stop now, with all but two major browsers using the same engine. I’m not concerned about that. In fact I think quite the opposite will occur. We will see increased innovation on top of the consistent WebKit base as each Google, Apple, Opera and BlackBerry attempt to innovate on top of what is there already while maintaining compatibility for what came before.

As for developers, more consistency is a very good thing. For anyone who has tried to make their web sites compatible with Internet Explorer 6 knows… yeah, consistency is a very good thing!