August 24, 2010

All about Opera and its Browser's Technology

Image via Wikipedia
Opera is a Web browser and Internet suite developed by the Opera Software
company. The browser handles common Internet-related tasks such as displaying
Web sites, sending and receiving e-mail messages, managing contacts, IRC online
chatting, downloading files via BitTorrent, and reading Web feeds. Opera is
offered free of charge for personal computers and mobile phones.

Features of Opera include tabbed browsing, page zooming, mouse gestures, and an
integrated download manager. Its security features include built-in phishing and
malware protection, strong encryption when browsing secure Web sites, and the
ability to easily delete private data such as HTTP cookies.

Opera runs on a variety of personal computer operating systems, including
Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, FreeBSD, and Solaris. Evaluations of Opera
have been largely positive, and it has innovated or pioneered many key features
of modern browsers. Despite these factors, Opera has captured only a small
fraction of the worldwide personal computer browser market. It does, though,
have a stronger market share on mobile devices such as mobile phones,
smartphones, and personal digital assistants. Editions of Opera are available
for devices using the Symbian and Windows Mobile operating systems, as well as
Java ME-enabled devices. Approximately 40 million mobile phones have shipped
with Opera pre-installed. Opera is the only commercial web browser available for
the Nintendo DS and Wii gaming systems. Some television set-top boxes use Opera.
Adobe Systems has licensed Opera technology for use in the Adobe Creative Suite.

The Opera Software company claims that Opera is "the fastest browser on Earth".
One set of third-party speed tests concluded that Opera 9.5 was indeed faster
than Internet Explorer 7 and prerelease versions of Firefox 3 and Safari 3.
Technology website ZDNet's speed tests in early 2008 showed that out of Internet
Explorer 7, Safari 3, and pre-release versions of Firefox 3 and Opera 9.5, Opera
was the fastest in some areas, but the only browser that Opera clearly
outperformed was Internet Explorer.

Opera includes built-in tabbed browsing, pop-up ads blocking, fraud protection,
a download manager and BitTorrent client, a search bar, and a web feed
aggregator. Opera also comes with an e-mail client called Opera Mail and an IRC
chat client built in.

Opera includes a "Speed Dial" feature, which allows the user to add up to 25
links (or more, by editing the speeddial.ini file) shown in thumbnail form in a
page displayed when a new tab is opened. Thumbnails of the linked pages are
automatically generated and used for visual recognition on the Speed Dial page
or can be modified using Opera Image Dial Generator. Once set up, this feature
allows the user to more easily navigate to the selected web pages. Note that
editing the speeddial.ini located in the directory file (which is in an
OS-dependent location) of Opera gives the user better control of the look of the
new tab. It gives the ability to edit the number of columns and rows separately,
and recently the opacity of thumbnails for better visibility of the background

Opera supports "Opera Widgets", small web applications that start from within
Opera. Alongside Widgets, "User JavaScript" may be used to add custom JavaScript
to web pages. Greasemonkey support is limited, and there is no interface to
manage scripts or toggle 'Greasemonkey-on' functionality.

Opera is extensible in a third way via plug-ins, relatively small programs that
add specific functions to the browser. However, Opera limits what plug-ins can
do and does not support full-fledged third-party extensions to the browser.
Opera does this as a quality assurance measure, so that third-party extensions
cannot introduce bugs.

Opera Unite

On June 16, 2009, Opera released the alpha of Opera Unite (running on the Opera
10 beta version of the browser), adding web server capabilities to the web
browser through an extensible plug in model called "Services". Opera Unite
allows for several services to be hosted from the user's computer, including a
web server for hosting a site, file and photo sharing, chat room and streaming
media. Opera ASA has given the Opera Community the API to create new or improved
services for the Opera Unite Platform, and several already have. An Opera Unite
user's running services can be accessed from a dedicated web page hosted by
Opera Software ASA and tied to the Opera Community's "My Opera" account. These
services can be accessed by any browser, though the host must use Opera. For
these services to be accessed the computer, and the Opera Browser running the
services, must both be running on the host computer.

An API for creating additional services is included which uses HTML, CSS,
client-side ECMAScript and a new server-side JavaScript technology with local
file access and persistent storage. Opera provides a vetted facility for
developers to upload these user-created services.

Over the years, Opera for personal computers has received several awards. These
awards include:

  • Webware 100 winner, 2009

  • Webware 100 winner, 2008

  • PC World World Class Award, 2004 and 2005

  • Web Host Magazine & Buyer's Guide Editors' Choice

  • PC Magazin Testsieger (Test Winner), 2006

  • PC Plus Performance Award

  • PC World Best Data Product, 2003

  • PC World Best i Test, 2003

  • Web Attack Editor's Pick, 2003

  • ZDNet Editor's Pick, 2000

  • Tech Cruiser Award 4 Excellence, 1999

  • Opera browser

  • Opera Mini

  • Opera Link

  • Opera Mobile

  • Opera Devices

  • Opera Mail

  • Opera Dragonfly

  • Opera Unite

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