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Archive for March, 2005

Opera CTO: Something big in April

March 31, 2005 6 comments

In an interview with The Web Standards Project (WaSP) HÃ¥kon Wium Lie, CTO of Opera Software said “A big announcement is coming up in April”. Lie didn’t elaborate on the nature of the announcement.

Opera is planning on releasing the next version of its desktop browser in April. It’s expected that Opera will rename the browser name.

Stay tuned.

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Opera's Marketing Dept. needs your help

March 24, 2005 2 comments

In anticipation of Opera’s new browser release (coming soon), Opera is looking to its user base to help spread the word.

Opera will be hosting a contest where you will be rewarded for getting people to download the browser. In a posting on the web it is soliciting ideas on the prize of the contest. “For this effort we want a big, grand and fabulous prize – big enough to make mass participation worthwhile.”

In 2004 more than 20 million users downloaded the Opera browser.


[Thanks to Daniel]

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Opera for Palm OS Petition

March 23, 2005 6 comments

The Opera Mobile browser provides support for a wide variety of devices and operating systems. However, one noticeable absent operating system is Palm OS, including the very popular Treo series made by Palm One.

“Opera Software continuously considers new platforms based on market demand. There are no specific reasons why we shouldn’t be able to port to Palm OS if there was sufficient demand – typically from a device vendor”, an Opera spokeswoman told Opera Watch.

Now a group of people has gathered to with a petition to get Opera to make a version of their Web Browser for the Palm OS platform.

“Opera is a good browser and the PalmOS can benefit from having it as an option”, wrote one petitioner. Another wrote, “This needs to happen. The browser choices for the Palm OS are miserable.”

As of the time of this posting there were 611 petitioners.

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Microsoft feels snubbed after Opera's acid2 challenge

March 17, 2005 4 comments

After Opera’s CTO, Hakon Wium Lie, proposed the Acid2 challenge for Internet Explorer (IE) 7, there has been some grumbling over at Microsoft.

Microsoft’s Robert Scoble, in his blog complains about the manner in which it was announced. In particular, why did the Web Standards Project (WaSP), which will be sponsoring the acid2 test, go public with the announcement first instead of approaching the people over at Microsoft? “That tells me they care more about PR than really working with browser vendors to improve things for users”, writes Scoble.

Scoble also made the charge that the WaSP is the marketing department of Opera. Haavard, of Opera’s Quality Assurance, writes “interestingly enough, much of Microsoft’s success can be attributed to marketing, but I guess it doesn’t feel good when you are on the receiving end.”

The most ridiculous claim of all Scoble writes, “If all the browsers have the same underlying features, and they should only add things that are standards, what differentiation are you offering your customers and investors? Are you saying Firefox’s developers can’t propose anything new that’d push the Web forward? Hey, how about some linking technologies like Greasemonkey? Is Firefox not allowed to add anything like that that the W3C didn’t propose and that the WaSP didn’t approve of?” Haavard made some interesting comments on this, I wont repeat them here, you can read them in his journal.

Though these are Scoble’s personal opinion and not that of Microsoft, it does point out the general attitude of Microsoft.

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Opera CTO to Microsoft: Take the Acid2 challenge

March 16, 2005 1 comment

Hakon Wium Lie, CTO of Opera Software, has written a piece for C|net about the lack of interoperability of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (IE) and how IE 7 will deal with this issue.

Lie proposed an acid test to ensure that IE 7 does not become another failed promise, the Web community will issue a challenge to Microsoft. “We will produce a test page, code-named Acid2, that will actively use features Web designers crave, such as fixed positioning of elements.”

“Microsoft now has the chance to redeem itself with regard to Web interoperability. All it needs to do is make sure IE 7 passes the Acid2 test before shipping”, wrote Lie.

The Acid2 test will be sponsored by the Web Standards Project, which is a grassroots coalition fighting for Web standards. Its integrity is unchallenged in the Web community, and its presence will ensure that Acid2 will be fair for all. It might even smoke out some bugs in other browsers.

As the test name implies, this will be the second acid test put forward for Web browsers. The original acid test, created by Todd Fahrner in 1997, was instrumental in ensuring interoperability between browsers in their CSS1 implementations. The existence of the acid test forced browser vendors to fix their implementations or face embarrassment; the test was created so that testers could easily see which browsers failed the test.

Even Microsoft made sure IE 6 passed the acid test. As a result of the acid test, CSS became usable and has changed the way Web sites are authored.


Acid2 test
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Opera 8.0 beta 3

March 16, 2005 6 comments

Opera has released yet another beta of Opera 8.0 (Windows), this time beta 3.

It has redesigned the preferences window, making it much more user friendly (screenshot). With this important redesign, Opera has caved in to what many critics have been saying for a long time that Opera has to many features and a bit too complex for the average user. Firefox, on the other hand, has by default few features making it more user friendly for newbies, but provides a boatload of plugins. The risk that Firefox takes is that the user may never “discover” the useful plugins.

Among the changes it removed is the ambiguous window/tab handling options (“Prefer pages inside window”, “Prefer separate windows”, and “Advanced Opera workspace”) and replaced with two simple checkboxes (“Open pages in tabs” and “Show close button on each tab”). The previous way of handling tabs (that was introduced in Opera 8.0) was extremely confusing to users.

It has also added preferences for showing notification pop-ups for messages, blocked pop-ups, and completed file transfers.

In this version Opera has also added native support for SVG 1.1 Tiny (Scalable Vector Graphics). SVG is an XML-based language for Web graphics developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). It enables Web developers to create the next generation of interactive and personalized Web applications in high-quality vector graphics instead of bitmaps, which are most often used on Web sites today (examples of SVG here).

Since SVG is based on XML, it can therefore be scaled to fit any screen – from small mobile devices to high-resolution printers. As opposed to proprietary vector-based Web technologies, SVG is an open, text-based standard, and can be reached and indexed by search engines.

“We believe SVG will enter mainstream Web design in the future and we are very pleased to add native support in the Opera browser”, says Hakon Wium Lie, CTO, Opera Software. “We will work with other vendors to ensure that SVG can be used interoperably on the Web.”

“As the Internet is maturing we see that most new Web sites are no longer static displays of information, but rather complex online applications that use advanced Web technologies to enable improved interactivity, speed, and services,” says Jon S. von Tetzchner, CEO, Opera Software. “It is only natural that Web browsers support Web technologies natively, rather than by having to keep adding plug-ins. By integrating SVG support, Opera continues its tradition of bringing innovation to the Web and setting the de-facto standard for Web browsers.”

Opera has yet to reveal the name of their newest browser version.

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Opera's stubbornness and terrible JavaScript support?

March 11, 2005 2 comments

Haavard Moen, of Opera’s Quality Assurance, has written a great piece elaborating on the issue many Opera users face, Java Script support.

A fairly common criticism of Opera is that its JavaScript support is severely lacking, and that Opera Software refuses to address this because Opera only renders standards compliant code, and Opera Software is not going to do anything about it.

Haavard points out the biggest cause of non-working sites in Opera today is browser sniffing. Once it has detected that the user is using Opera, it sends it a different version (code) of the site. “If only Opera had gotten the same as everyone else, it would have worked”, says Haavard.

To illustrate this point, Haavard takes a look at the MSNBC’s Web pages. With other browsers, hovering over the menu, will open up sub-menus. In Opera, however, it seems to be broken. By using a proxy to completely hide the fact that you are using Opera, the page will send you the same code other browsers get. Now, the menus will work fine in Opera.

The question remains why Opera can’t handle the “different version” code that is supplied to it, through the browser sniffing.

Opera’s technical response
In Opera 8.0, under the Help menu, you can “Report a site problem”. Opera compiles a list of these sites, reported to having issues with the browser, allowing Opera to absolutely spoof Opera’s identity (completely hiding Opera). Thus, Opera will receive the same code as other browsers do.

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