Leigh picked up a little gem from an antiques and curios shop in Burford, titled “The Internet A to Z”. This little tome was published in the year of our Lord 2000 (so possibly written in 1999), and it was interesting to see what difference 10 years makes.
In particular, there were 2 very relevant entries:
…and then iCab…
I didn’t start work on the Opera 10 redesign until April this year, so what was doing between November (when I started) and then?
Opera Mini 5!
My first day at Opera, was visiting the team out in Linköping, Sweden, where they showed me the work they had been doing. Up until now, Opera Mini has always been a text-based interface out of necessity. There was limit to the size the download could be (which I think was around 100k). Overstep that and some devices just fall over, but it was worth optimising in order to accommodate as many handsets as possible. Now the allowance is bigger, but not substantially, and it’s incredible how much fits into the Opera Mini download. They showed me an interface that not only used animations and visual speedial, but was touch screen compatible. A lot of the work had already been done, but I had a great time working on the interface.
I can’t take all the credit for the interface design though. Apart from the work that had already been done, my time on Opera 10 meant that the Mini team had to continue without me to do the final polish, and a superb job they’ve done too.
I’m working on separate blog post, going into more detail about the design of Opera 10 and Mini 5, but for now, go and have a play with the Mini 5 beta.
With just 2 months shy of completing my first year with Opera, I’m really chuffed to see a final release of Opera 10 desktop, with some of the fruits of those labours.
Amongst the new features of Opera 10 are:
- Thumbnail tabs – put them at the bottom, the sides, or just leave them at the top.
- Completely revised ‘skin’, with every icon replaced. Originally, these were updates that I was planning for v11, but I was itching to update the skin. This was quite an undertaking (and something I decided rather late on) but worth it.
- Updated rendering engine: 100% score on the Acid 3 test, web fonts (including SVG fonts) and much more.
- and of course, a new icon (at last!) created by Oleg Melnychuk
The excellent Dev.Opera article The Opera 10 Experience gives you the full details.
If you trying Opera for the first time, it’s worth making you aware of other pre-v10 features you may not be aware of that I particularly enjoy:
- Lock tabs. Right click a tab and choose ‘lock tab’ – wonderful for tabs you don’t want to be closed accidentally – When viewing pages, such as search results, keep hitting that space bar. When you get to the end of the page, Opera will follow the ‘next’ link. – Save text snippets with reference to their original page. Highlight the text on the page and choose ‘Copy to note’ from the right click menu, and it does just that. The note itself also acts as bookmark back to the source.
As with all software, it’s never really finished. So as I look with pride at version 10, I’m also mentally creating a list of what I need to work on next. We’ve come far with version 10 though, and the list can wait – at least for today.
Download Opera 10 at http://www.opera.com/browser/, or if the server is struggling with the demand, direct from ftp://ftp.opera.com/pub/opera/. Enjoy!
A couple of weeks ago, I recorded an interview with Kevin Yank for the Sitepoint Podcast, part of a new series of interview casts. We had a lovely chat about various topics, such as print designers moving to the web, working for Opera and the new Firefox icon. I always tend to get a bit waffly, giggly and veer of course with interviews, but it sounds like Kevin has done a grand job of editing it into a listenable mp3!
Listen to the interview over at Sitepoint.com, which also has a full transcript.
Today, Opera launched it’s jewel in the Opera 10 crown: Unite. Around 3 years in the making, this service and it’s APIs allow you to easily share content from your computer to the world at large or just a select group of friends. It’s an ad-hoc personal webserver where you just choose a service (Photos, Media, Files. etc) and tell it where that content is – Unite does the rest. Lawrence Eng’s post on labs.opera.com does a great job of explaining Unite further.
I was a little nervous that the marketing talk (“Reinvent the web”, “servers belonging to strangers”) would distract from what is a great fun service and idea. Fears were unfounded though, as a majority of people have embraced Unite for what it is, and love it.
If you haven’t tried it yet, head over to the labs and remember: like any service with an API, the real excitement is in waiting to see what people do with it…
I’m currently working on a strategy on how to take the Opera UI forward, and I’m eager to get your opinions on a particular subject: Native look and feel.
How much does Opera feel like native application on your operating system? How much does it matter to you? Those using Opera on just one platform may want it look utterly native, whereas those using it on multiple platforms might appreciate a consistent ‘family’ look. This is one of the things I’ll be looking at, and striving to find the right balance and approach.
I’m predominantly a OS X user, so I’m particularly looking for (constructive!) feedback from users on other platforms. In the past, I’d always thought that the Mac was the only platform where where Opera looked like it didn’t quite ‘fit’, but I need to be sure!
Please let me your thoughts via this simple form. Thanks in advance for all your help!
Gawd Bless™ Chris MIlls and Gawd Bless™ Opera, for together with authors like Norm they have begat the Opera Web Standards Curriculum.
I linked to this in my sidenotes a couple of days ago, but really felt it deserved a bit more attention, considering the extraordinary amount of work that has gone into it.
Finally, there is non-reference resource to point people to, where they can actually learn in stages what web standards mean, and how to adopt and use them to build a better web. Heartily slapped backs to all of the contributors!
Uh oh, the Browser Radar™ has been twitching again. I have high hopes for Kestrel, the codename of Opera 9.5, soon to be available as pre-release weekly builds. Aside from the CSS3 support, the section under ‘Platform integration’ caught my eye (emphasis mine of course):
To make sure that Opera remains the best choice on your platform, we spend a lot of time making Opera feel more integrated with your platform. Mac users can expect a nice new visual look and feel. Opera for Linux will add a QT4 build, so you can easily adjust the skin to match with desktop. There will also be 64-bit Linux/FreeBSD packages made available.
I’ve been impressed with Opera abilities since about v8, and especially with 9, but the ‘Opera Standard’ interface looks more Mac-like than the ‘Native Macintosh’ skin to me. I use Opera Mini on my mobiles all the time, but it’s never made the leap to my desktop due to its look and feel. I believe that 9.2 introduced proper system-drawn OS X widgets which is a step forward for sure, but with Leopard on the horizon, Opera feels as if it’s still clinging on to a Jaguar look. Sadly, I’ve never had the time to have a go at making my own skin – the process seemed too daunting.
So, I’m quite looking forward to seeing this ‘nice new visual look and feel’, and hoping that it won’t be a disappointment. If anyone at Opera just happens to be reading this, any chance of posting a few screenshots to sate the curiosity?
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