Hi there! Its time for another longish edition of Opera Bytes. I shall take you through all the hot news and scoops from world of Opera.
Yesterday, Johan Borg posted a rather poetic update in the Desktop Team Blog, regarding the future of Opera. Of course, like everything coming from Opera Soft. Developers, it was vague (and believe me very very vague). You can read his blog-post here. The main revelations were:
- A new (weekly build) build of Opera v9.20 with a new feature (never seen in a desktop browser before), will be unveiled later this month. Meanwhile, you can download the latest weekly build from here.
- The next major build of Opera – codenamed as Kestrel, will aim to further unify various builds of Opera for various platforms. A part from that it will also contain several rendering improvements.
- Kestrel will be followed by Peregrine. This will be a significant update. My guess is that Kestrel will be released as Opera v9.50, and Peregrine will be Opera v10. It will contain significant improvements in the user interface, improved standards support, improved performance, thousands of bug fixes and groundbreaking new functionality (any guesses? ).
- The much requested auto-updater is coming.
- Opera Mail (M2) will also be improved in Peregrine. Tim Altman revealed that one of the most-debated wish list items will finally appear. I am guessing that it may be support for html emails (just a guess). Besides that, the indexing back-end will be replaced, which will hopefully fix a long-standing and dreaded indexing corruption bug.
- David Storey has blogged about the logic behind the codenames. You can read his article here.
In the Desktop Team blog, an argument broke out (among the commenters) over the pros and cons of allowing addons (extensions). I have been advocating in favour of API for a long time. I believe that it is something Opera should have added long time back. My argument is that, no matter how hard Opera works its impossible for them to fit everyone’s need without creating a huge bloat. What is unnecessary to one, is necessary to another. Opera’s goal has been to give power to the users, and API is necessary to do that. All major windows browsers – Internet Explorer, Firefox and Maxthon – allow add-ons in some for or other. Till now Opera has got away without adding extensions, because out of the box it is miles ahead of it’s competitors. Others like Firefox were too barebones out of the box. However, Firefox is fast catching up and implementing many new features (a majority of them being Opera’s innovations), thus narrowing the gap.
- One of the arguments being put forward against implementing an API at the moment, is that most of the people who use Ie7 and Firefox don’t install extensions/add-ons. Yes, that is true. However, Opera’s aim has always been to give power to users. Also, Opera needs to add an API if it intends on increasing it’s market share. At this point not only does Opera need to compete with Ie but it also needs to compete with Firefox. Although a majority of surfers are casual users, a majority of the opinion makers are power users. Many people switched from Internet Explorer, as they read an article in a newspaper or magazine recommending it, or their more tech-savvy friend recommended it to them. And, it is going to be hard to make these sophisticated users switch to Opera from Firefox, unless there are extensions. They will probably install Opera, find out that they cant do a specific task they are so accustomed to and go back to using Firefox.
- One con of providing an API is that badly coded/malicious add-ons may cause security risk. However, the success of add-ons in Firefox and Maxthon prove, that this is unlikely to be a huge problem. Extensions are 3rd party tools, are users responsibility not Opera’s. Actually its possible to exploit the userjs system too.
When Tim Altman from Opera Software, provided an opportunity to question him regarding various Opera related topics, I asked him about the reason behind Opera reluctance in implementing add-ons. Excerpts from his reply:
I wouldn’t say we’re reluctant, but there are certainly some hurdles along the way. First, it’s not clear that an API for extensions is really the right answer. If we add an API, does that mean we’ll have high quality extensions that you’ll actually want to use? No.
There are a number of technical challenges in introducing an API for extensions. Opera’s core functionality is kept lean and mean, making porting to all kinds of exotic platforms (like, say the Nintendo DS and Wii) as simple as possible. Adding in an extension API that arguably benefits only one platform (Opera Desktop) isn’t necessarily the best thing for Opera as a whole. I hear a lot of Opera fans blame extensions for Firefox’s speed, memory, and stability problems. I really have no idea if this is true or not, but it’s another thing we have to consider. Furthermore, I often hear that very few Firefox users actually install extensions. If this is the case, the work needed to implement an API for extensions may be better spent on other things.All that said, I’d personally like to see an extension API. Opera fans are a great, creative bunch of people and I’d like to see the stuff y’all could come up with. I think Opera Software could benefit from removing some of the current functionality from the base install and releasing it as extensions. Not everyone needs the ability to validate Web pages or view Widgets built in to their browser. Then again, they might think they don’t, but they use it and end up loving it. And they probably never would have used it if it weren’t there by default. It’s a conundrum, really.
- He also answered several more questions, including my inquiry about the status of voip integration in Opera.
My Question: “I remember about a year or so
ago Daniel [wrote] that Opera would add skype like pc2phone service (voip). Can you provide/leak any more info about that?”
Tim: You’re probably referring to these two articles from OperaWatch: Opera considering entering the IP telephony market and Opera to integrate VoIP into desktop and mobile browsers. The second article is based on a press release, which says,
“Opera Software today announced a partnership with JAJAH, one of the world’s fastest growing VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) companies…. JAJAH’s services will be available through Opera Mobile and Opera Mini…and will also be included as a widget in the upcoming Opera 9 desktop browser.” So, where’s the widget and Opera Mini release? Due to some unforeseen
complications, these products are currently in limbo.
You can read the QnA here.
myOpera.com (Opera’s community website) would receive a major upgrade soon. Some screenshots of the new website is available here.
Opera Mini to the Rescue: According to this post in myOpera forums, Opera Mini helped the poster to get out of prison. This is what he posted:
Hello everybody, this is my first post with you and it is a good chance for me to say million thanks to opera company for it’s great gift to humanity which is Opera Mini Browser.
This great gift makes me able to be with you her while i am in prison..!?
Yes in prison, can you believe it!!
I know it’s unbelievable, but it is a truth.
Opera Mini is my window to freedom, to the world and i’m asking Opera Mini administration to give me permition so i can distribute it’s product, i have alot of customers here and i hope to be a distributer or agent for opera products in my city when i got my freedom.
I am so happy being with you and thanks again to opera.
my best regards
That rounds up this edition of Opera Bytes! Keep spreading the word.