Opera 10.50 released

I keep writing about the Opera browser, I can't help myself.  Opera Software has put the Opera web browser at the forefront of web browser technology with innovative features, some of which are unique to the Opera browser.  Admittedly the browser technology crowd is an incestuous bunch, and steal ideas back and forth from one another, still Opera has been doing it better, and more uniquely than any other browser for a couple of years now.  What I don't understand is why it only has 3% of the market share, it deserves a larger share of the market.  Here's why.

With this new release 10.50, Opera has introduced a new JavaScript engine, actually three new engines combined, that together, increase the speed of the browser up to seven times faster than the previous version, which was already fast.  Opera Software claims Opera 10.50 is the "Fastest Browser on Earth."  It is.  Couple that with a perfect score of 100 on the ACID3 test, and you have a state-of-the art, W3C web compliant, lightning fast, web browser, and there's so much more.

Opera has joined Cloud Computing in using additional servers on the Internet to enhance your browsing experience in three ways that currently no other browser supports. First, we have Opera Turbo.  Opera Turbo can be used by people with slower Internet connections.  Opera turbo compresses the web page on the server to up to 80% of its original size to speed your download speed.  This will improve your browsing speed on some of the slower wifi connections in retail coffee houses also.

Second, we have Opera Unite. Opera Unite allows you to share music, videos and documents with friends without having to either email the content to them, or uploading the content to a server.  It sets up a virtual server between your friends over the Internet. This means larger content files like movies can be shared with your friends easily.

And finally, we have Opera Link.   For those familiar with Delicious, a web service that allows you to centralize all your bookmarks and put them on the Internet, Opera goes one step further.  You set up your Link account in each of your computer browsers.  From then on Opera Link can keep your Bookmarks, Browser configuration, history, Speed Dial, Notes, and Searches synchronized with all the rest of your Opera browsers automatically.  If you set a new bookmark in your browser at work, it will automatically show up on your home browser.

That brings up Speed Dial, which shows you images of your favorite web pages you can click on when you open a new browser window.  Unique to Opera is Visual Tabs, pull down the menu tab bar and an image of the web pages in your tabs are shown.  For those small fonts on the web page, and for readers who can't see the page, there is a Page Zoom icon to quickly zoom in to the web page with a simple click of the Page Zoom icon on the bottom right toolbar, that's nice.   With Notes, you can select some text on a web page, right click, and save it to Notes.  This automatically saves the text and the web URL, for reference later.  And it's not limited to one note, like Microsoft's copy and paste.

Then we have faster browsing with a series of enhancements.  Mouse Gestures allow you to customize your mouse movement. To give you an example, right click on your mouse, and move your mouse to the left, and you'll go back to your previous web page, no more having to place your mouse on the "Back" icon at the top of the browser to go back one page. There's Fast Forward to go to the next page, like the back button, this one guesses what your next page would be, and takes you to it.  No more going to the bottom of the Google page to find the next page number.  And there's a fast back to take you to the original page of your search.  Opera will fill out the user name and password for a particular web page automatically if you like with their Password Manager.

You need a Dictionary, an Encyclopedia, or to Translate a word into another language, select the word, and right click, and select what you want to do.

If you close some of the tabs you had open and closed the wrong one by mistake, no problem, there' a Trash can icon that keeps track of tabs you closed. You can also browse History Free if you prefer.

Have you ever wanted to find a particular word on a web page full of text. One way you could do this is with Alt-F then type in the word, Opera makes this a little easier with Find in page,  just type a period with your word, and it is highlighted on the screen.

Windows7 and Vista introduced Widgets for little applications you wanted on your desktop. There's Opera Widgets that do the same thing in your browser window.

And now to features that I really like.   Google's Chrome originally allowed you to type your search into the address bar.  They were the first, then Firefox followed, Opera has done them one better with a Quick Search.  You can type your search into the address bar, like with the other browsers, and in Opera you can assign a one letter url for the address bar.  Let me give you a couple of examples.  I want to search for a JavaScript book on Amazon, type "z javascript" in the address bar and you'll go to Amazon books and the JavaScript books page pops up.  You can type "w php" and bring up the Wiki for php, or "e ipods" and bring up Ebay on the ipod page.   What's nice is you can create your own custom key shortcuts also.   If you go to Amazon a lot this really simplifies getting to where you want to be.

And finally, Opera is starting to listen. I have said many times before that if Opera would put out some decent web development tools, I would give up Firefox for web development and use Opera full time.  With this release the Alpha of Opera Dragonfly is being released.  This will be a full-featured development environment allowing you to debug JavaScript, inspect the DOM, the CSS, network traffic and data stores with built-in remote debugging for mobile devices.  To view page source, go to page->Developer's Tools->source, or validate, or Inspect Element. You can Inspect the element on the page with a right click of the mouse.   This is an Alpha version, some of the choices are not functional yet,  as to be expected with an Alpha release, like the color picker, but Operation Dragonfly, the equivalent to Firebug on Firefox, looks like it has the potential to out do Firebug in functionality once everything gets hooked up.

Opera, now that you are finally moving to be a full fledged web development tools, let me help you.   Things I missed in Opera Dragonfly for Web Development, that I want.  The F12 key to bring up the application, and put it back down, quickly.  The Inspect button in Firebug that allows you to search the screen for an element with your mouse.   Yes, Dragonfly does it with the right click, Inspect Element, but its not the same, or it's not fully functional yet.  I'd like an Aardvark plug-in type of functionality where I don't have to bring up Dragonfly to view the DOM element.  I want to see all the CSS affecting the page with file names, like Web Developer, View CSS, in fact the entire Firefox Web Developer plug-in would be nice.

Keep working!  Your doing great work. Your web development tools aren't quite there yet, but I see you're actively working on them, as you get closer and closer, you may win me over for Web Development, you already have for general web browsing.  For those who have not tried Opera, I recommend you try it out, you might like it.

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