File Under: Browsers

New Opera 12.50 Dons WebKit Disguise

Is it Opera or is it WebKit? Photo: Ariel Zambelich/Wired

 Opera software has made good on its controversial decision to support the -webkit CSS prefix. The browser maker has released a preview version of Opera 12.50 with support for a dozen -webkit prefixed CSS properties, including transforms, transitions and border-radius.

If you’re curious and want to see how Opera handles -webkit prefixes, head on over to Opera and download the latest version of Opera Next for Windows 32-bit, Windows 64-bit, Mac or Linux. (Keep in mind that 12.50 is still a very early release and contains some known bugs.)

Opera’s decision to support another browser’s CSS prefix code has caused considerable outcry among web developers and members of the CSS Working Group, which created vendor prefixes.

CSS vendor prefixes were designed to help web developers by giving them a way to target CSS to specific browsers and use proposed standards before they were finalized. The idea was to move the web forward without rushing the CSS standards process. Unfortunately, it hasn’t always worked out that way. In fact, web developers fell in love with the -webkit prefix and often forget that there are other prefixes as well: -o for Opera, -moz for Firefox and -ms for Internet Explorer.

The problem, in Opera’s view, is that instead of writing code that will work in any web browser, some of even the largest sites on the web are coding exclusively for WebKit (the rendering engine that powers web browsers on the iPhone, iPad and Android phones). Web developers have, the argument goes, created the same sort of monoculture that used to exist around Internet Explorer, with websites proudly proclaiming they “work best in WebKit.”

Opera decided that, in order to remain competitive, it needed to support -webkit in addition to its normal -o prefix.

The company previously updated its mobile emulator tool to support -webkit, but Opera 12.50 is the first actual browser release to do so.

Naturally the -webkit prefix support isn’t the only thing new in Opera 12.50. This release also manages to pack in an implementation of the Clipboard API, and Mac Opera users will find that Opera 12.50 uses Mac OS X 10.8’s coming Notification Center.