Feeds

Top Firefox OS bloke flames Opera for WebKit surrender

Why we'll never switch from Gecko, says Mozilla CTO

The essential guide to IT transformation

A top bod at Firefox-maker Mozilla has ruled out replacing its web browser's brains with WebKit - and lamented Opera’s surrender to the web engine favoured by Apple and Google.

Opera revealed last week that it will eventually dump its own web browser's engine Presto after 18 years for the one-two-punch of WebKit - the open-source web-page layout display engine that’s the basis of Apple’s Safari browser and Google Chrome.

A day after the Presto announcement, Mozilla's chief technology officer Brendan Eich said he was “sad” the world had lost “one of the few remaining web platforms”, and invited downcast Opera developers to join the effort behind Mozilla's Gecko browser engine.

“Take heart and persevere. It is sad to lose one of the few remaining independent web platforms, Presto,” Eich wrote on his blog. “I hope that Opera will keep fighting its good fight within WebKit. Opera fans are always welcome in Mozilla’s community, at all levels of contribution (standards, hacking, engagement).”

This has reopened the debate on the rise of WebKit, and whether Mozilla and even Microsoft should finally give up going it alone and succumb to the fork of KDE's KHTML project.

JavaScript inventor Eich, who recently assumed development of Firefox OS for mobile, ruled out replacing Mozilla's Gecko with WebKit. Aside from the complexity, cost and delay in making such an architectural switch, Eich claimed the web is a safer and healthier place with diversity at its heart.

He said: “Monoculture remains a problem that we must fight. The web needs multiple implementations of its evolving standards to keep them interoperable.” His lengthy essay continued:

Mozilla is not Opera. If we were a more conventional business, without enough desktop browser-marketshare, we would probably have to do what Opera has done. But we’re not just a business, and our desktop share seems to be holding or possibly rising — due in part to the short-term wins we have been able to build on Gecko.

Eich reckoned the future is for more web engines, rather than fewer, and he ticks off those who naively assume that demanding all browsers use the same engine will make the world a better place. Such people, he contends, “may have not lived under monopoly rule in the past”.

In short, Opera and those pushing Mozilla towards WebKit are wrong, according to Eich, who envisioned the need for “a new cleanish-slate open-source web engine project” to motivate programmers into contributing and also to “avoid depending on an engine that an incredibly well-funded and lock-in-prone competitor dominates, namely WebKit". ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
Microsoft boots 1,500 dodgy apps from the Windows Store
DEVELOPERS! DEVELOPERS! DEVELOPERS! Naughty, misleading developers!
Apple promises to lift Curse of the Drained iPhone 5 Battery
Have you tried turning it off and...? Never mind, here's a replacement
Mozilla's 'Tiles' ads debut in new Firefox nightlies
You can try turning them off and on again
Linux turns 23 and Linus Torvalds celebrates as only he can
No, not with swearing, but by controlling the release cycle
Scratched PC-dispatch patch patched, hatched in batch rematch
Windows security update fixed after triggering blue screens (and screams) of death
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?