Hello Opera 11! What's that? Extensions?

The Up North Web event also marked the introduction of Opera 11, which finally will include extensions support, like all the others.

People have been asking for extensions support for years, and idea that has become popular with the introduction of Firefox. In the years we've seen Chrome and most recently Safari include extension support as well.

For a long time it seemed that Opera Software's stand on this was that they wanted to bring a (controlled) web browser with all the features right in the box, but today that has changed. Following in the footsteps of the competition, Opera 11 (which we previously knew as Opera 10.70) will include extensions support to enhance the standard browsing experience.

Opera 11 extensions will be build with open standards (HTML5, CSS, JavaScript), based on the W3C Widget specification, using a portion of the application through their API (injectable JavaScript, callouts, certain UI items and a basic tabs and windows API.). According to Opera Software the extensions will be similar in development compared to the competition (not necessarily at the powerful level of Firefox, but more like the JetPack extension or Chrome/Safari-like), allowing easy porting. Whenever that's not possible, they say it's due to keeping with the open standards. Extensions can be UI alterations (like buttons), but also background processes.

More information, including a link to an alpha version of Opera 11, that will appear soon, can be found on the Choose Opera blog.

Opera Mobile for Android announced

Opera Software held the Up North Web event today, announcing that Opera Mobile for Android. Opera Mini is already available for Android, but Opera Mobile truly leverages the (native) power of the platform.

Two features have been announced, hardware acceleration and pinch to zoom. Hardware acceleration will make sure that Opera Mobile runs smooth on your smart phone, the UI will interact fast and scrolling will flow like the water. Pinch to zoom is a familiar feature that will allow you to easily switch between eagle view and zooming in on the details like the Hubble telescope.

Opera Mobile will be available within a month from the Android market, for all Android versions.

Browser performance benchmarks

A few big players in the web browser market are gearing up for their new releases, Chrome 7 and 8, Firefox 4, Internet Explorer 9, and of course Opera 10.70.

In the coming months I hope to do a massive benchmark on both Mac and Windows comparing these browsers using several different benchmarks for JavaScript, but also for hardware acceleration (as that is now the key component of next generation of browsers). Not only do the browsers differ so much in JavaScript performance, as they all use different engines, but hardware acceleration is becoming important as well for WebGL and HTML5 technologies such as the canvas.

For what it's worth I've run Peacekeeper on my iMac with the latest builds:

  • Firefox 4.0 beta 6: 4516 (not yet using the new JS engine)
  • Safari 5.0.2: 5905
  • Opera 10.70 (9067): 6743
  • Chrome Dev Channel (8.0.522.0): 8153

Can't go without a V8 Benchmark Suite - version 6:

  • Firefox 4.0 beta 6: 1252 (not yet using the new JS engine)
  • Safari 5.0.2: 3258
  • Opera 10.70 (9067): 3610
  • Chrome Dev Channel (8.0.522.0): 5439

Hardware Acceleration Stress Test

  • Firefox 4.0 beta 6: 3 FPS (no hardware acceleration on Mac yet, planned for beta 7)
  • Chrome Dev Channel (8.0.522.0): 6 FPS (no hardware acceleration on Mac yet, planned)
  • Safari 5.0.2: 7 FPS (no hardware acceleration on Mac yet)
  • Opera 10.70 (9067): 16 FPS (software acceleration?)

And just for the heck of it, an ICC profile test:

  • Opera 10.70 (9067): None
  • Firefox 4.0 Beta 6: ICCv2
  • Safari 5.0.2: ICCv4
  • Chrome Dev Channel (8.0.522.0): ICCv4

So which benchmarks would you recommend for the upcoming massive test?

Opera 10.63 released

The Norwegians vikings have released a new maintenance release of their popular Opera browser, bringing the version to 10.63. While development on Opera 10.70 continues, it seems that the developers at Opera Software had some time to tweak their stable release even further, reaching near perfection, more or less ;)

User interface

  • Crash when removing custom settings folders
  • Start Bar being blanked out after opening a background tab
  • Opera Unite Messenger application not loading
  • Crash when saving a file while the page redirects
  • Crash after leaving a page containing Flash with wmode="transparent"
  • Using Opera Link, bookmarks dragged out of the Opera Mini folder are recreated when sent as added in the Opera Mini folder again
  • Opera Link freezing on startup
  • Fallback to a second address being very slow
  • Reloading pages give multiple unclosable download dialogs

Display and scripting

  • Handling of Content-Disposition extended parameters
  • Memory corruption when using SVG in an element
  • Several JavaScript-related issues, including one with Yahoo! Mail Classic
  • A mouse focus problem related to plug-ins
  • Incorrect compilation to native code leads to wrong arithmetic results
  • Crash when assigning data or src attribute on a focused and highlighted element with dirty layout
  • JavaScript alerts opening shortly after a page loads close instantly

Miscellaneous

  • Added search suggestions from Baidu
  • 100% CPU usage occurring when starting Opera
  • Crash when opening a file with Content-Disposition: attachment directly in Opera

Security

  • Fixed an issue that allowed cross-domain checks to be bypassed, allowing limited data theft using CSS, as reported by Isaac Dawson.
  • Fixed an issue where manipulating the window could be used to spoof the page address.
  • Fixed an issue with reloads and redirects that could allow spoofing and cross-site scripting.
  • Fixed an issue that allowed private video streams to be intercepted, as reported by Nirankush Panchbhai of Microsoft Vulnerability Research.
  • Fixed an issue that caused JavaScript to run in the wrong security context after manual interaction.

Due to the security fixes and stability updates this release is recommended for all Opera users. You can get the full download from Opera's web site. Existing users can also find the update by selecting the check for updates from the help menu.

Firefox and Internet Explorer 1-on-1 in Europe

The browser market shares differ greatly globally. Even on a per country base you'll see that each browser has more, or less, market share.

A common thing in each region is that Internet Explorer rules supreme, but StatCounter's numbers suggest that this last month Internet Explorer number one spot might be at risk as Firefox has been climbing closer and closer.

Google's Chrome is doing great too in Europe, similar to the US they've been growing and growing steadily. Differently though is that in Europe Opera and Safari struggle with each other to get that fourth spot. Safari probably gets most of its users from the Mac platform (let's be realistic that the Windows version, like QuickTime and iTunes, doesn't feel too well integrated). Surprisingly to me is that Opera in 2009 lost a lot of users and hasn't been growing much this year at all.

Do remember that there are lies, damn lies, and statistics.

Five handy Firefox tricks

While Firefox 4 is still some time away from a final release, we do take a look at some handy tricks, which are often already available for Firefox 3.6.

Of course we all know the story on how Firefox was born and how it got it's number two spot today. But did you also know that it was Mozilla that introduced the famous about:config method of configuring the web browser without browsing to separate configuration files?

Firefox Sync
Integrated within Firefox 4 is Firefox Sync (previously Mozilla Weave). This technology allows you to synchronize your Firefox bookmarks, passwords, preferences, history, and tabs. This is very handy when you have multiple machines (like me) or want to have access to your personal files on different locations. Firefox 3.6 users can download Firefox Sync as an extension.

Small buttons
Firefox 3 introduced the new key lock design for the back/forward navigation, meaning the back button is big, the forward button small. However if you think this is simply taking too much vertical space, right click on an empty space on the toolbar and choose "Customize...". When the customize window opens up select the check box to "Use Small Icons". Look at that it has shrunken to one standard size.

Search engine keywords
Do you see that search bar on the right of the location bar? Want it gone, but still able to choose a search engine? Well, click on the search engine icon (eg. Google logo) and select "Manage Search Engines...". In the new window each search engine is displayed in the list, select one and press the "Edit Keyword..." button. Now take a sensible keyword (eg. "g" for Google) and save it. When you're back at the location bar type "g firefox" and you'll use Google to search for the term Firefox. If you're satisfied you can now remove the search bar itself.

Forget a site
Browsed something that you want to forget? Go to the "History" menu and choose to see all. Find the site you want to be removed, right click and select "Forget About This Site". Not only will this single entry disappear, but everything related to it.

Private Browsing
Like Safari, Chrome, and IE you can browse privately. This means no passwords, cookies, cache or history is left behind. This helps when you browse adult sites, or simply just go to online stores to get a secret present for your loved ones. To go to this mode you'll just need to select it from the "Tools" menu. Voila! After you're done, just close the web browser.

Saving multiple images
Sometimes when you are on a web site you want to save all the images at once, eg. on a wallpapers site. To easily get all currently displayed images select "Page Info" from the "Tools" menu, go to the "Media" tab, select one or more images and press the "Save as..." button to select a folder to store them in.

Five handy Chrome tricks

Chrome has only been with us for a few years, but with Google's rapid development process and a lot of enthousiasts on the web it has matured into one of the finest browsers. Currently holding a number 3 spot after Internet Explorer and Firefox, Safari and Opera will probably look with envy at this young contender's accomplishments.

New isn't the right word to describe Chrome, it's fresh. Fresh with new ideas, like multi-process architecture, less chrome and a Google-ish simplicity of the interface. But even so, even Chrome has undiscovered areas, so today we'll look at five tricks in Chrome.

Using your Google account for sync-ing
Almost everyone has a Google account these days, if you either use iGoogle, GMail, Google Calendar, Picasa or other Google services. But did you know that Chrome uses this for sync-ing your web browser? Well, first you'll have to enable it from the preferences window. Under the "Personal Stuff" tab there is a sync option. Click it, fill in your Google account credentials and after that you can set-up just exactly what you want to be sync-ed. You can sync your apps, auto-fill, bookmarks, extensions, preferences and themes. Yeah that's way more powerful than Firefox sync or Opera Link.

Turning off the translate bar
Not everybody wants to have their pages translated if they're for instance using an English operating system and browser, while browsing the occasional dutch site. In order to turn off Chrome's translation suggestion go to the preferences window. Once there go to the "Under the Hood" tab and uncheck the "Offer to translate pages that aren't in a language I read". Even when this feature is turned off you can still right click on a page and choose "Translate to English".

Early access release channels
Not exactly a feature, but Google made it much easier to help out testing their web browsers. The more feedback they get, the more pages that render well, as well as fixing other problems you may encounter. The power of offering channels by Google is that each one offers auto-updates, that way you always test with the latest release and you don't need to download a nightly binary every day and install it manually. The release channels consist of stable, beta, dev and for Windows users the extremely cutting edge canary. For more instructions on how to use a channel go to Chromium. Be sure to give feedback once you've entered the game.

Chrome Labs
In the development builds Google decided to add experimental features. They are experimental in the way that they are not finished and not necessarily part of a release. You can find Google Labs by going to the chrome://labs url. Depending on the platform and the time that you look at this page, you'll find experiments like a tabbed version of the preferences window, different representation of tabs, page info, etc.

Extensions
It's highly unlikely that you've missed this feature. Extensions have become very popular when Firefox offered them for the first time. Firefox offered and still offers unparalleled powerful additions to the standard browsing experience by allow third party developers to create modifications that enrich your browsing experience. Chrome introduced extensions a while later as it costs development time, but doing this they've also made it almost the same as Firefox, without the need to restart. Some fine extensions for Chrome are the Google Quick Scroll extensions (find your search result right on the source page), Auto HD for YouTube (choose wide screen and up to 1080p automatically), and many more.

Five handy Opera tricks

A new series of posts will pass by each browser and look at five handy tricks, which are often missed as they might be hidden or not part of the default settings.

Today's post is about the Norwegian web browser by Opera Software called Opera. Opera has been around for a long time and is known to posses a most impressive array of features, as well as a wide variety of exposed options. Suffice to say that a lot of users just missed that one little handy feature while using it.

Delete transfer window history after quitting Opera
We all download files from the internet, and Opera remembers them for several days, as you can either resume unfinished ones, or simply easily open them without knowing where you saved them back then. However some people download so much files that the list becomes long and cluttered, or simply because of privacy concerns you want it emptied.

To do this we'll use opera:config, a very powerful way of changing settings which appear and don't appear in the preferences window. Paste opera:config#TransferWindow|KeepEntriesDays this in your location bar and change the amount of days to 0 or less than 0. After hitting save, quitting Opera will clean up your transfer history.

Delete private data, but keep favicons
A lot of people like favicons, they show up in the bookmarks and the bookmarks bar. But no doubt you've noticed that when cleaning up your private data (from the Tools menu) you'll lose your favicons. Well, with a small catch we can fix this. Uncheck the option "Clear bookmark visited time" (under detailed options) and they won't be deleted anymore. However the catch is that your visited time remains stored and can be viewed from the bookmark's properties.

Search keywords
Opera comes with several search engines pre-configured. Usually you'll probably use the search bar next to the location bar to search in Google, Bing, etc. But did you know each search engine is actually bound to a search keyword? Just go to the location bar and type "g opera software" and it will automatically use Google to search for it. If you type "b opera software" it will use Bing. You can add other search engines, or manage the keywords from the preferences window, under the search tab.

Tab closing behavior
If you swapped from Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer or Safari you'll notice that closing tabs in Opera behaves a little differently. Opera actually remembers how you browsed and thus how your tabs were created. If a tab is closed your going back to the last active tab. However if you find this confusing (as Opera might be remembering more than you do) you can change this behavior from the preferences window. Go to the advanced tab, the tabs option on the left, and change the drop down box from "Activate the last active tab" to "Activate the next tab".

Windows 7 peek support
Opera Software worked hard on integrating with Windows 7. They supported Aero quickly and adapted their current look to be cross-platform, yet familiar with the OS. One new feature in Windows 7 is to peek in the opened windows of an application. Opera extends this by showing each opened tab as well. You can enable this feature from the preferences window, go to the advanced tab, choose tabs on the left and checking the option under the "Additional tab options..." button.

Why having Firefox around is important

Not all that long ago Internet Explorer dominated the web. Opera was there, but as little as it was, it never proved to be a strong competitor for the masses. The only hope remained at that time with an organization that was working on our last hope, the last stand, before the fall of the web.

The web never fell in the clutches of Microsoft. If it wasn't for Firefox, and perhaps more importantly the developers, community members and you, the web could have been taken by Microsoft. Not necessarily implying that Microsoft is evil and all, but a single entity should never have the most of the web in its powers. Imagine, if you have more than 95% of the market, the W3C can scream any standards they want, you do what you want, as people won't notice the difference. If you say technology A is the way to go, and it only works on Windows, well, that's a problem.

But it didn't happen, Firefox came, from the ashes of the beast. Not only was their timing perfect when IE was under fire due to its insecurity, but it was also a browser supporting the latest web technologies and offered new features for the end user.

Today we must remember this, we must remember that Firefox has saved us all, or perhaps freed us all. Look at IE, it's from Microsoft. Look at Chrome, it's from Google. Opera, Safari, are also both software from commercial companies. The web is not just a platform made by a vendor, not just some piece of software. The web is that what connect every piece of technology, software, and most importantly us. Therefor, the web is like a free medium, better than your news paper or television show.

The Mozilla organization (and it's commercial entity) are not commercial. They are one of the few who have taken up the task to free us and keep us free. Although a lot of their income is generated by Google searches, they'll never expose our privacy, they'll never force a platform on us (IE9 will not work on XP), they'll always try to move forward. If something isn't commercially viable, they still could work on it.

Let's keep that though and let's all work on the next version, Firefox 4. Regardless of if you're a fan of the other browsers, it's important to know why Firefox, and Mozilla, is important, and how you can still make contributions, no matter if its big or small.

Remember Firefox.

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