Opera has been one of my favourite browsers for years — from the days that you had to pay for it! — so it was really interesting to hear from the company themselves what they’re up to, where their focus is and where they’re heading with their range of browsers.
The presentation kicked off with an introduction from Eric Hoppe, Opera Marketing Manager, who then handed over to Roberto Mateu, Product Manager for Opera Desktop who explained about the four products within the Opera range, as well as the importance of the mobile Web browsing experience which is a vastly growing area, particularly in developing countries.
Four product ranges
If you don’t know about Opera, or haven’t tried it out, then I urge you to: it’s a great browser now available in four different flavours:
- Opera Desktop
Browser for your Windows, Linux or Mac machine.
- Opera for Devices
Browser for set-top boxes, games devices such as the Wii, portable media players and more.
- Opera Mini
Browser for your Java-enabled mobile phone.
- Opera Mobile
Browser for smartphones and PDAs.
I was interested to learn that there is only one rendering engine for all four product ranges, which explains why it’s such a nicely consistent and robust browser regardless of the platform.
I currently have 7 different versions of Opera installed on my PC in the office, for testing purposes you understand. I also have Opera 5 on my Psion, Opera Mini on my old Nokia phone and Opera Mobile 9.5 beta on my PDA/phone. I think Firefox Mobile which is in development just now is going to have to do something pretty special to beat the mobile Web experience that Opera offers.
Finally, Chris Mills, Opera’s Developer Relationship Manager (and the man behind the Opera Web Standards Curriculum) gave the longest presentation of the hour, about where the Web has come from, where it is now and the importance of open Web standards, before delving into a demo of some of the features of HTML 5 and CSS 3.
There are some cool features to look forward to once HTML 5 goes live and starts to be adopted by browser manufacturers. Needless to say Opera are already embracing some of the new tags and capabilities.
My biggest niggle with Dragonfly though is that it displays all my nicely constructed lowercase XHTML tags in uppercase. The IE Developer Toolbar does the same.
The latest version of Dragonfly allows you to add a Debug menu to the menu bar, which is a welcome addition, saving you from having to weave your way through Tools > Advanced… > Developer Tools to get to the features. This has to be downloaded from the Opera Dragonfly page.
Chris promised that his slides would appear on his My Opera site sometime soon, so keep an eye out for those. In the meantime download Opera and give it a spin.