What do browsers like Apple Safari and Google Chrome, and almost every browser on mobile devices have in common? WebKit, of course. According to a .net magazine report, Opera will be implementing WebKit prefixes too. In essence, Opera is afraid that it’d be left behind—especially in the mobile marketplace—if it doesn’t do so, as too many websites are now using HTML5 and CSS3 features that only benefit browsers using the WebKit engine. (Remember though, StatCounter has placed Opera as the number one mobile browser in 2011.)
Opera’s Web evangelist Bruce Lawson told .net:
“Opera, along with Microsoft and Mozilla, announced at a CSS Working Group meeting that we would support some WebKit prefixes. This is because too many authors of mobile sites only use the WebKit-prefixed version, and not even the standard, unprefixed one, when it is available. This leads to a reduced user experience on Opera, Mobile Firefox and Mobile IE, which don’t receive the same shiny effects, such as transitions, gradients and the like, even if the browser supports those effects.”
In other words, Opera is saying that authors are to blame because they design their websites using the WebKit-prefixed version instead of doing it the standards-compliant way.
However, Opera has also stated that it isn’t planning to alias every WebKit prefix, and so it’s still important to use all vendor prefixes and the unprefixed property to ensure interoperability. Opera has since revealed its list of affected prefixes.
Microsoft has since come forth too and clarified that it won’t be supporting WebKit prefixes in Internet Explorer.
As commented by Faruk Ateş (who runs the open source tool, Modernizr), perhaps it’d be better if Opera (or Microsoft or Mozilla) were to put its weight behind “a set of open source tools that work better than hand-coding websites, tools that produce the right output for CSS” to tackle the real problem, than to accuse authors of not supporting their browsers.
Perhaps sensing that it may have offended developers, Opera has this to say at the Q&A portion when it announced its Opera Mobile Emulator Labs builds with experimental WebKit prefix support:
Why are you levelling blame at the feet of us developers?
We’re not. Others share the blame too:
- The CSS WG (that includes us) for failing to sufficiently prioritize specs that are seeing wide adoption
- WebKit vendors for not putting much effort in standardizing their proposals, for advertising -webkit- without fallbacks, and for not dropping prefixes at all
- The CSS WG for designing the prefix system, with all its downsides
- Authors and clients who believed it to be legitimate to exclude people because of their browsers
The point of this isn’t to blame anyone. It’s to get the content to the user.