Although the Opera 9.6 browser improvements are mostly consumer-oriented, the new release also features improvements for developers. Opera Software officials say compatibility and stability are Opera 9.6's biggest benefits to developers.
What can [a] developer expect from this
release? This release focuses on stability ... Developers will not have to
learn new tricks or find and work around newly introduced bugs. Instead the
stability of the browser has been improved, key bugs have been fixed, security
holes have been patched and the performance has improved.
However, Storey also said, "The main changes for this release were more
consumer focused, and include features such as improved Opera Link support to
now sync typed history and custom searches." In addition, "A feed
preview has now been added for RSS and Atom feeds, and a scroll marker has been
added to aid the user when scrolling to see where they left off," Storey said.
Meanwhile, for developers, "The first thing to note is that a core
rendering engine version has been added to the User Agent string," Storey
said. "This was done to help developers that need to detect the same
version of the rendering engine across all Opera products, which may not have
matching product version numbers. This is particularly important for when
working around bugs or for library developers."
According to Opera Software, "Opera 9.6 enhances the performance and
flexibility of Opera's built-in e-mail client, while adding new features to
Opera's free browser-synchronization service, Opera Link." The expanded
Opera Link enables users to take their favorite search engines and browser
history wherever they go. Opera Link also synchronizes notes taken in the Opera
browser, bookmarks, Speed Dial and personal bar.
Opera Mail now includes a "low-bandwidth mode" to retrieve mails
faster when bandwidth is limited. Opera Mail also has two new ways to manage
e-mail conversations. Users can "keep an eye on important threads and
contacts by following them, or ignore less important threads and contacts with
a single click."
Opera 9.6 also features improvements to overall responsiveness and page
loading, as well as adding previewed feeds so users can see an RSS feed's
content before subscribing to it or bookmarking it.
Moreover, Storey drew attention to the international nature of the release:
Something else worth noting is we've
added support for a number of new languages. These include Indian languages
such as Hindi, Tamil and Telugu, and Ukrainian, Estonian and Indonesian.
Ukrainian and Indonesian are particularly interesting as they are two of the
countries that are witnessing large growth in Opera users and Opera enjoys a
large market share. Opera is doing very well in general in Eastern and Central Europe and Central Asia.
Hopefully Indonesia will kick start Opera growth in South East Asia,
like Russia's growth seems to have helped in its
neighboring countries. Opera's market share is certainly an order of magnitude
higher than the often quoted 1 percent market share in these areas.
"We believe in making the Web available for people everywhere,"
Opera Software CEO Jon von Tetzchner said in
a statement. "The people who use Opera need it to adapt to their needs and
we're proud to continue that tradition today. Our improved e-mail client is now
the ideal communication tool. Opera Link gives you more flexibility to take
your personal browsing identity with you to any computer. The new Opera 9.6
gives more people around the world new reasons to choose Opera."
Opera 9.6 is available for Linux, Mac and Windows
computers and ships in more than 38 languages. The Opera browser can be downloaded
for free here.
Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.