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Opera confirms support for WebKit vendor prefixes (netmagazine.com)
47 points by intranation on Apr 25, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 48 comments



This is a good thing, and there is basically no way around it.

There is a varying degree of a WebKit monoculture on mobile. Without great site compatibility, users will never successfully switch to a non-webkit browser, but currently much of the great mobile content out there assumes webkit prefixes and userAgent. So Opera, Mozilla, and MS basically need to adopt some of the mobile webkit properties in order to get compatibility, in order to get users. It's either that or advocacy wherein we try to get every site ever to not publish with just WebKit prefixes. But in reality, this advocacy effort has been underway already for over two years and we're still in this bad situation.

Look at the chart linked to from http://paulirish.com/2012/vendor-prefixes-are-not-developer-... When IE10 comes out (or it's complementary mobile browser), less than 25% of all sites that use CSS transitions will have them working in IE10.

Vendor prefixes are bad for us as developers and they're bad for browsers because it leads to situations like these. We'd be in a better situation without them.

BTW, one detail that wasn't really covered: I believe this change is localized to Opera's mobile browsers. Their desktop story is, I think, unchanged.

(All the above is a personal opinion and not that of my employer, yadda yadda)


Is vendor prefixing really worse than UA sniffing Paul? Your employer is one of the worst offenders of the latter (not blaming you). Maps, for example, falls back to a very primitive version in Firefox Mobile despite it being perfectly capable of rendering the more advanced site.

My attitude is that if you don't want to test on anything other than Safari Mobile and Android Browser then fine, don't test, but let the site degrade gracefully or not on other browsers.


> don't test, but let the site degrade gracefully

In practice, graceful degradation requires testing.


I chose the wrong words, my meaning was that they should allow non-WebKit browsers the chance to render the site and if they fail, they fail. Forwarding the browser to another URL because you whitelist only a couple of UAs is a bad bad idea.


What would happen in the situation that a browser has developed a non-prefixed property, which later becomes a standard, but with different functionality?


Prior art of vendor features that were introduced sans prefix: innerHTML, XMLHttpRequest, <canvas>, querySelectorAll, innerText...

We've done this before and handled it fine. In JavaScript you can test the features, in CSS you end up duplicating a few lines of CSS-- see the gradients example: http://paulirish.com/2012/vendor-prefixes-are-not-developer-...


Dropping vendor prefixes entirely is a bad idea. The syntax for gradients has been revised a couple of times. Without vendor prefixes you'd have to pick which version to support, back when different browsers had different implementations.

Same is true now of IndexedDB.


I would prefer the following 2 pronged approach: * First, prefixed properties in nightlies/dev versions of browsers, such as Canary. This would allow testing, without imposing a specific standard. Once a proposal is written, implement it without a prefix in the normal way. * Second, we need a tool to update our CSS files automagically. I should be able to use the non-prefixed version and the prefixed version added by the tool. Apache, Nginx should have an extension which does this automatically and could easily be implemented by CDNs.


I like this as well. Browsers are considering not shipping prefixed properties to their stable channels currently.


I know everyone talks about fragmentation concerns, and WebKit as the new IE6, but does this argument really make any sense? Internet Explorer was a poorly updated, closed source product that only worked on a single platform; WebKit is open source, maintained by two separate companies (that are basically locked in a cold war), and is available on all major platforms. If anything, why isn't the notion of a single rendering engine to which we can all write a GOOD thing? I know there's lots of idealism around standards, etc, but let's get real here -- most people building a webpage simply want it to render properly and universally, and would like to take advantage of cutting-edge technologies. Agreeing on a single rendering engine seems to be the easiest way of accomplishing this goal.

I've probably missed some killer feature of a multi-engine standards-based ecosystem, but really -- is that the pace at which we want to move the web forward?


A monopoly leads to a lack of innovation. A lack of innovation leads to proprietary solutions. Proprietary solutions lead to a lack of innovation.

This is what happened with Microsoft and IE6. IE6 launched in 2001. Microsoft didn't care updating it for the next 6 years. This lead to a rise of Flash in websites, which at the time seemed like a good solution to fill the lack of support of CSS. But then it also lead to a lack of innovation in Flash, and Adobe never cared about its plugin optimization or security.


  Adobe never cared about its plugin optimization or security
I don't think that's fair. Adobe released frequent updates for security, and less-frequent but still consistent updates for optimizations/new features.


>A monopoly leads to a lack of innovation. A lack of innovation leads to proprietary solutions. Proprietary solutions lead to a lack of innovation. This is what happened with Microsoft and IE6.

But why should we blame monopoly? MS had no competitor in the desktop space (even now, OS X has like 10% and Linux around 1%), and still they improved Windows continuously from 3.1 to 8. Same for Office. After the demise of WordPerfect, it never had any serious competitor --even today the vast majority of people choose it over the free OpenOffice, whereas Google Docs have insignificant user share (from what I've read). Still, MS continuously added things to do. Same for Photoshop, Illustrator, etc. They did not have any competitor, especially with Macromedia acquired (Corel's software is not used by the majority of graphic designers, and almost nobody uses Gimp outside of Linux), and yet, Photoshop just received it's most substantial update to date.

So, monopoly != necessary stagnation.


WebKit is not controlled by 2 companies and WebKit is not a single rendering engine. WebKit is a single upstream project, the downstream browsers differ from each other just as much as they differ from gecko or presto based browsers.


Not sure that is fair; Google push updates to Webkit all the time, but naturally they develop them on their fork.


The other vendors choose when/if they merge Google's commits. The grandparent's comment made WebKit sound like a single entity when it's actually several competing companies with overlapping but also differing views on things. They just happen to be working from a common code base.


Some of Google's engineers have Webkit priveleges. Webkit is a single rendering engine - this should not be confused. It is used by several browsers, who of course, use slightly different compilation configurations, but I doubt that the web designer ever needs to concern themselves with that!


No Alex, not all WebKit browsers have feature parity with each other.


Example please.


Touch events - Android (any version) vs. iPhone (any version).

IndexedDB - Chrome Mobile has it (outdated version), Android and iPhone do not.

Chrome will have Dart support at a later date, no other WebKit vendor is going to implement it.

There are literally dozens, just go to caniuse.com and play around for a bit.


The first 2 are simply version issues, whilst the 3rd is nothing to do with the rendering engine. Chrome uses V8, Safari does not.


Chrome and Safari do differ from each other. But "as they differ from gecko or presto based browsers"? No. Nearly all engine-related bug reports we get apply to all WebKit ports. Gecko and WebKit only rarely have bugs in common.


The "as much" part is BS. Webkit browsers are FAR more alike rendering-wise than they are with any third party engine.


Any difference in rendering between Gecko and WebKit is a bug.


And all software has tons.


No, the two browser have also different levels of implementation compliance with CSS3/CSS4 and other technologies.

So, some of those are not bugs, are differences in features.


This is hopefully the moment where things have become so absurd (not a criticism of Opera) that it's time for browsers and standards to tackle the problem e.g. look at the proposed -beta flag.

(http://www.quirksmode.org/blog/archives/2012/02/the_vendor_p...)


If all the browsers use the same prefix then why use one at all?


Because the behavior of the beta feature may be different from the behavior of the final version.


I would prefer an experimental feature not be implemented until at least the syntax has been decided on. Prefixes were implemented so that browsers could have experimental features in place and look where we are now. Adding in a prefix, even a single one, doesn't change the fact that if present then people will use it. If the syntax changes during the -beta prefix phase then lots of stuff will be broken anyway. Can the browser companies at least get their crap together to decide on a basic syntax and then expand on it if needed? Lately they seem to be able to do that with some of the newer properties but we still have prefixes.


Vendor prefixes have turned out to be unsuccessful, but letting browsers move ahead before standards is the best thing that could have happened for the web. And the web apps we see today are evidence of it.

XHTML shows what happens when you try to agree on everything upfront. You mention agreeing on a basic syntax. The browser developers generally do discuss ideas for new features in basic terms before they release them, and hopefully there's some vague sense of agreement between at least two browsers before a feature goes alpha. But agreeing on anything more than that, instead of just hammering out a working implementation, means developers end up with APIs that are hard to use and don't address their users' needs.


Sure, I agree. I just feel that experimental features should be in beta or nightly builds until they are ready for production use. The fact these features were available in current releases means developers will start using them whether they are really ready or not.

Like I said before, they are getting better at agreeing on basic syntax at least. I would say don't make it available until the basics have been decided on. If they are still arguing over details that require a prefix then it isn't ready for release.


In some ways, I understand the need the vendor prefixes, but they do seem to be causing some fragmentation. I'm getting to the point on some CSS properties that I just use the real CSS name (like border-radius) and don't use the vendor prefixes at all since all the major browers that support radius use the non-prefixed name.

If you all remember back in the IE6 dominated days, Opera was built to the web standards but in order to make it a viable browser for pages that were only tested in IE6, they had to try to emulate IE6 behavior in Quirks mode, and I'm sure Mozilla had to do the same thing.

Hopefully this is a short-term thing unless standards are more finalized and browser implementations become more consistent.


What an idiotic move - So now they want to make webkit the next IE of internet?

Standards are standards - period. I see ton of wrong with this approach, or... mabye we should just ignore the w3C CSS Working group.

Vendor prefixes are fine - as long they are used as temporary solution, and no one expects them to be the "default" way of doing things.


Opera is not making WebKit the new IE; web developers who only use -webkit CSS prefixes have done that.


By this move they are essentially legitimizing it. The only way to oppose stupidity is to not agree to it.


Exactly, couldn't Opera instead release an advisory tool which examines stylesheets and points out how to convert -webkit- prefixes to a) standards or b) -o- prefixes?


>Exactly, couldn't Opera instead release an advisory tool which examines stylesheets and points out how to convert -webkit- prefixes to a) standards or b) -o- prefixes?

So all of 0.1% of web designers who use Opera can change them?


Lots of people implicitly expects them to be working in the long run. Lots of people will read a tutorial on how to get the cool animation X and the tutorial will only include the -webkit-property, and the reader won't even bother that he is excluding a big part of the users, because he uses only a webkit browser, so he won't notice.

There is something inherently wrong with vendor prefixes as they are used currently. But in the same time they are good if some browser wants to implement a new alpha feature or something.. but they should really not be supported for so much time as they are now.


Historically, the standards that have been most successful have been the ones that describe what people are already doing


Eli, but notice what the article says - some developers use vendor prefixes to do something that already IS in standards. There is a very good reason W3C is out there. I don't know how old are some of the people commenting here, but we were in this situation in past.


I've been telling the IE team to do this since IE 9. In reality, the purpose of vendor prefixes is to keep two vendors from using the same name for two distinctly different behaviors. The current prefix model does that.

After a prefixed extension gains market adoption, it serves to indicate which implementation is authoritative. -webkit means you better do it the way webkit does it.

Any browser that won't make use of the author's intent, when that intent is unambiguous and easy to determine, is just shooting itself in the foot.


Unfortunately it can't be helped, adhering strictly to the standards loses market share. Yesterday Internet Explorer, today webkit.


next move: spoof user-agent to appear as chrome. hello mozilla compatible internet explorer


I think this is a bad idea as it's supporting bad, lazy developers who can't be bothered to learn their craft correctly.

I've written a bit more about these "WODs" at http://www.iandevlin.com/blog/2012/04/css/on-vendor-prefixes...


Wonderful [sarcasm].

So now when I create something that requires a browser that actually has good hardware acceleration, it will be a dastardly turd of a performer in Opera.


No, it will continue to be fast on opera and firefox and to be a "dastardly turd" on chrome and safari: only some selected -webkit- properties will be translated by opera.


Smart move.




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