Opera 9, Technology Preview 2 has just been released. With changes. Read on and get the meat of the story: Widgets, thumbnails, BitTorrent and more.
Yes, Opera 9 now features Widgets: Small web applications that run outside the browser, directly on the user’s desktop. These widgets, unlike a regular browser, has cross-domain features, so it’s an ideal platform for delivering Web applications that interact with multiple online services at once. Opera Widgets are cross-platform, and run both on Windows, Linux and OS X.
Since widgets are chromeless, they’re also ideal for eye-candy applications, such as this analog clock:
!http://virtuelvis.com/download/2006/02/o9tp2/clock-widget.png (Clock widget on a user’s desktop)!
If you are a developer, and would like to get started with widget development, see the “Widget developer’s page”:http://my.opera.com/community/dev/widgets/ — the tutorials there are:
* “End-user documentation”:http://my.opera.com/community/dev/widgets/doc/ (the really-quick user documentation is: Install the TP, press F6 and then “Add”)
* “Your first widget: Hello World!”:http://my.opera.com/community/dev/widgets/first/
* “Animate your first widget”:http://my.opera.com/community/dev/widgets/animation/
* “The Opera Animation library”:http://my.opera.com/community/dev/widgets/animation/lib/
* “Deploying widgets”:http://my.opera.com/community/dev/widgets/deploy/
Over time, more documentation for developers is going to be added to this page, from the simple to the more complex.
With widgets, Opera is also introducing OWAL, the “Opera Web Applications License 1.0”:http://www.opera.com/license/owal/ which allows authors to reuse libraries developed by Opera for widget development.
h3. Content blocking
Opera has always had the opportunity to block unwanted external content. Up until now, this has been an expert-only feature, requiring editing of the urlfilter.ini file. Well, those days are long gone. You can now right-click on any page, and select “Block content” to block external images, flash movies:
!http://virtuelvis.com/download/2006/02/o9tp2/content-blocker.png (Block content is available in Opera’s context menus)!
If you want to see more of the content blocker, my colleague Petter Nilsen has “written in-depth”:http://my.opera.com/mitchman2/blog/show.dml/132479 about it, with multiple screenshots.
Yes, “BitTorrent is back”:http://www.opera.com/pressreleases/en/2006/02/06/. This is technology previously previewed in the 8.10 cycle, then it went away for a few versions. The client has improved since then, in addition to bittorrent search being added. Use b [search term] in the address bar to search files directly on “search.bittorrent.com”:http://search.bittorrent.com/
h3. opera:config improvements
opera:config, introduced in Opera 9 TP1, has seen some major improvements, style-wise:
!http://virtuelvis.com/download/2006/02/o9tp2/opera-config.png (opera:config is now styled like other Opera pages)!
Not only is the styling improved, the functionality is also improved, as every item in the file now has a permalink, signified by the
» after an item, so pointing users to the exact setting you’re refering to is as easy as creating any other link on the web.
h3. Web page thumbnails
Opera 9 tp2 features Web page thumbnails when you hover over tabs:
!http://virtuelvis.com/download/2006/02/o9tp2/tab-thumbnails.png (Tab thumbnails in Opera 9 are displayed when you hover the tabs)!
Not only are these thumbnails in the tabs, but they are also added as an option to the Ctrl-Tab cycle:
!http://virtuelvis.com/download/2006/02/o9tp2/ctrl-tab-thumbnails.png (Thumbnails display beside the window list in the ctrl-tab cycle)!
The Ctrl-Tab is turned off by default, but can be turned on by checking the option Use Thumbnails in Window Cycle in opera:config
Again, you can view “more screenshots”:http://my.opera.com/mitchman2/blog/show.dml/132533 over at Petter Nilsen’s blog.
!http://virtuelvis.com/download/2006/02/o9tp2/history.png (History now groups by date and site)!
The history panel and history tab in Opera has seen some major improvements in this version: The history is no longer a flat list of items you have visited. Instead you now have these views:
* *Time and site view:* This view groups your site into “Today”, “Yesterday” and similar, with the domains you’ve visited grouped as subfolders inside this view.
* *Time view:* This view groups your history by date, and keeps the sites visited on that date in order, with no other particular grouping.
* *Site view:* Like you probably already guessed, this simply organizes your history by domain.
h3. Error console
h3. Source viewer
The source viewer/editor, introduced with TP1 has seen further improvement, as it now also syntax highlights source
!http://virtuelvis.com/download/2006/02/o9tp2/source-viewer.png (The source viewer is a basic text editor with syntax highlighting)!
h3. Customizable searches
The searches in Opera are now customizable from the Search tab in (the improved) Preferences:
!http://virtuelvis.com/download/2006/02/o9tp2/search-viewer.png (The create search dialog allows you to add custom search engines in one step)!
Again, Petter has more “details on search customization”:http://my.opera.com/mitchman2/blog/show.dml/133235
h3. Site-specific preferences
If you need to customize aspects of a site, like change its plug-in settings, alter the appearance by pointing to a different stylesheet, changing cookie settings or similar, Opera now has site-specific preferences:
!http://virtuelvis.com/download/2006/02/o9tp2/site-prefs.png (Site-specific preferences allow you to customize any site)!
Access to the site-specific preferences is through an extra menu item in “Quick preferences” (F12) which will open a dialog with the preferences for the site you’re currently visiting.
In conjunction with the release of this preview, the new “Opera Labs”:http://labs.opera.com/ site is also set to go live. Bookmark it, visit it, and subscribe to the RSS feed.
h3. Much more: Changelogs
There really is much more, but if I was going to delve into it all, this would end up as the longest blog post in history. I’d suggest checking out the changelogs, where you’ll also find the appropriate changelogs:
* “Changelog for Windows”:http://snapshot.opera.com/windows/w90p2.html
* “Changelog for Unix/Linux”:http://snapshot.opera.com/unix/u90p2.html
* “Changelog for Mac”:http://snapshot.opera.com/mac/m90p2.html
In addition to these, you can read some other Opera employee postings on Opera 9 tp 2 (This list is live):
* “Tim Altman”:http://weblog.timaltman.com/node/822
* “Moose: On internal stylesheets”:http://lofotenmoose.info/-/item/opera-internals-quietly-conservative (he has loads and loads of more links, explore his site)
* “Peter Karlsson: Changes in preferences”:http://my.opera.com/nafmo/blog/show.dml/134537
* “Anne van Kesteren: Opera 9 Preview 2”:http://annevankesteren.nl/2006/02/opera-9
You’ll find the appropriate download links in the changelogs. Remember: This is a technical preview, not production software. Which means that we appreciate bug reports and feedback, which you can do by filing bugs, and/or posting in the “Beta testing forum”:http://my.opera.com/community/forums/forum.dml?id=31.
Update: This article has been “translated to French”:http://sebastienguillon.com/journal/2006/02/opera-9-0-technology-preview-2 by Sébastien Guillon. A big thanks to him.