All posts tagged ‘Opera’

Opera Dragonfly a Worthy Addition Your Web Development Toolkit

Dragonfly's color picker utility in action

Opera Software has released the first official version of Dragonfly, the company’s web developer toolkit which ships with the Opera web browser. Previously a beta release, Dragonfly is now ready for prime time and offers several features you won’t find elsewhere.

If you’d like to give Dragonfly a try, just download a copy of Opera and then right-click on any element within a page and select “Inspect Element.” That will bring up a panel at the bottom of the page that looks very much like what you’ll find in Firebug or the developer tools in WebKit browsers.

While Dragonfly looks like similar tools it has a few extra tricks up its sleeve, like a very nice zooming color picker and color palette feature, a network inspector that allows you to write custom requests and a revamped JavaScript debugger that can monitor specific expressions or variables in your code.

There’s also a new feature that allows remote debugging through Opera Mobile. If you want to debug your site on a mobile device running Opera, just turn on remote debugging in the Desktop app. Opera Dragonfly will then connect to Opera Mobile and allow you to debug directly on the device. The remote debugging features work with any device that can run Opera, including tablets, phones and TVs.

When it comes to testing your websites there’s no such thing as too many developer tools. For example, we routinely test sites in both Firebug and WebKit’s developer tools. True, they’re very similar, but there are enough differences to warrant using both. In that sense Dragonfly might not feel like anything new. But now that Dragonfly has reached 1.0 status, the color picker and remote debugging tools make Dragonfly well worth adding to your testing toolkit.

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File Under: Browsers

Speed Improvements ‘Turbo’ Charge Opera 11.10

Opera 11.10

Opera software has pushed out the final version of Opera 11.10, an upgrade to the company’s flagship desktop web browser. Opera 11.10 brings a significant speed bump for Opera’s Turbo browsing mode, new Speed Dial features and some more HTML5 support.

You can download Opera 11.10 for Mac, Windows and Linux from the Opera website.

Opera’s Turbo mode has been around for several years now and allows you to download sites faster over slow connections. Turbo works by proxying your connection through Opera’s servers and compressing websites before you download them. The latest version compresses sites even more, making it up to four times faster than previous Turbo releases, and 15 percent faster than Opera without Turbo, according to the company.

Turbo’s new compression tricks now take advantage of Google’s WebP image format to shrink photos and graphics before you download. WebP is Google’s effort to improve on JPG, making images smaller without degrading the image quality. Thus far only Opera and Chrome support the WebP image format.

WebP does an impressive job of making images smaller in Turbo, though in my testing there were still some compression artifacts visible, particularly with larger images. Still, for those times you find yourself with a slow internet connection, Turbo makes Opera significantly faster than the competition, and that alone makes Opera worth having around, even if it’s not your primary web browser.

The other big news in this release are the chanes to Speed Dial, which shows frequently visited site thumbnails in the new window or new tab view. Several other browsers have since copied Opera’s Speed Dial, but Opera keep tweaking it with new features. Speed Dial in Opera 11.10 is more customizable and allows you to set how many thumbnails you’d like to see.

Opera has long been a leader in web standards support and the latest release continues that transition adding partial support for the HTML5 File API. Unfortunately the “partial” File API support does not extend to the drag and drop file uploading used by some websites (notably Gmail).

Other new features in Opera 11.10 include automatic updates for plugins like Adobe Flash, and some IMAP improvements for Opera’s built-in mail client. For a complete list of everything that’s new in Opera 11.10, check out the full changelog.

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File Under: Browsers

Opera 11 Preview Shows Off WebP Image Format

Opera software has released a new developer build of its Opera Desktop web browser with support for Google’s WebP image format. The WebP format is part of Google’s self-imposed mission to make the web faster, and promises smaller images with no visible loss of quality. Currently Google Chrome is the only web browser that supports the WebP format.

The latest development build of Opera now supports WebP as well, though bear in mind that this is an unstable, not-for-everyday-use release. If that doesn’t scare you off you can download the latest version from Opera.

This release of Opera also includes support for linear CSS gradients (using the -o- prefix syntax) and Opera’s new Declarative UI for developers building tools on top of Opera’s extensions platform.

For web developers though, the big news is support for WebP, which should arrive in final form with the release of Opera 11.1 later this year.

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File Under: Browsers, Programming

Opera Updates ‘Dragonfly,’ a Debugging Tool for Web Developers

Opera Dragonfly's debugging tools

When it comes to testing your websites there’s no such thing as too many developer tools. For example, we routinely test sites in both Firebug and WebKit’s developer tools. True, they’re very similar, but there are enough differences to warrant using both.

Now there’s another tool to throw in your testing toolkit. Opera Software has launched the first beta of Opera Dragonfly, the company’s web debugging toolkit that ships with the Opera Desktop web browser. Opera Dragonfly has been around for years, but this is the first beta release and it offers quite a few new tools, including support for some new web APIs, like the Web Storage API.

To try out the new Dragonfly beta you’ll need a copy of Opera and then you’ll need to tweak Dragonfly’s settings. Paste this line into a new Opera tab: opera:config#DeveloperTools|DeveloperToolsURL. Then change the “DeveloperToolsURL” to https://dragonfly.opera.com/app/cutting-edge/ and click save. To activate Dragonfly head to Tools >> Advanced >> Dragonfly.

Once you’ve got the latest version of Dragonfly up and running you’ll be greeted by a new panel that looks nearly identical to Firebug or the developer tools found in WebKit browsers like Chrome and Safari.

However, while Dragonfly looks like similar tools it has a few extra tricks up its sleeve, like a color picker, a network inspector that allows you to write custom requests and a revamped JavaScript debugger that can monitor specific expressions or variables in your code.

If you’re already using Firebug or the developer tools in your favorite browser, Dragonfly might not feel like anything new. But now that Dragonfly has reached beta status, and is much more stable than previous incarnations, it’s well worth adding to your testing toolkit.

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File Under: Browsers

Opera 11.5 Preview Shows Off Hardware Acceleration

OpenGL accelerates Opera 11.5

Opera Software has released a hardware accelerated preview of the coming Opera 11.5 web browser. For now the hardware acceleration is only available for Windows systems with OpenGL 2.x compatible graphics card and drivers. Eventually the company plans to expand Opera’s hardware acceleration support to include Direct3D and any OpenGL capable system — Mac OS X, Linux, mobile phones and web TVs.

If you’d like to try out the latest preview build, you can grab a copy of the experimental build from Opera.

Hardware acceleration is the latest hotness in web browsers. Internet Explorer 9, Firefox 4 and Chrome 9 all offer varying degrees of hardware acceleration. The idea behind the trend is to hand off as much rendering as possible to your graphics card, which is generally better at drawing things on screen than your main CPU. For more details on how hardware acceleration works and why it’s good for browsers, see our earlier write up.

The chief problem with hardware acceleration is that differences between graphics cards make it difficult to implement. Internet Explorer 9 has sidestepped that problem by limiting hardware acceleration to Windows 7, while Chrome continues to limit hardware acceleration by compatibile graphics cards.

Likewise, for now, Opera’s hardware acceleration only works with a limited set of compatible graphics cards. However, Opera’s long term plans include supporting Windows XP and other platforms (provided they have compatible graphics cards), something Internet Explorer, for instance, will not be doing.

To see if your graphics card is supported, download the Windows preview version of Opera 11.5 and head to opera:about. Check the “Vega Backend” entry, if Opera reports that it’s using OpenGL, congratulations, you have hardware acceleration enabled. If it says “Software,” you’re out of luck.

If you’re an Opera fan, or just want to try hardware acceleration on a platform that other browsers don’t yet support, the preview is worth trying, but keep in mind that this is not a stable release. There are still numerous bugs — in particular, SVG rendering doesn’t seem to work — and Opera 11.5 won’t be finalized for some time. The next step on the Opera roadmap is 11.1, which will not support hardware acceleration. However, Opera plans to continue releasing updates to these early 11.5 builds even as it works to finish up Opera 11.1.

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