Opera (Internet suite)
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Opera is a cross-platform web browser and Internet suite which handles common internet-related tasks, including visiting web sites, sending and receiving e-mail messages, managing contacts, online chat and Widgets . It is proprietary software and closed source. Opera's lightweight mobile web browser Opera Mini and most current versions of its desktop application are offered free of charge.
Opera is developed by Opera Software, based in Oslo, Norway. It runs on a variety of operating systems, including many versions of Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, FreeBSD and Solaris systems. It is also used in mobile phones, smartphones, Personal Digital Assistants, game consoles and interactive televisions. Technology from Opera is also licensed by other companies for use in such products as Adobe Creative Suite.
The Opera suite has become known for innovation in features and usability.
Opera began in 1994 as a research project at Telenor, the largest Norwegian telecommunications company. In 1995 it branched out into an independent company named Opera Software ASA.
The Opera browser was, until version 2.0, called MultiTorg Opera and was not available to the public although online documents show it at The Third International WWW Conference in 1995. It was known for its multiple document interface (MDI) and 'hotlist' (sidebar), which made browsing several pages at once much easier, as well as being the first browser to completely focus on adhering to the W3C standards.
- 1996: The first public release was Opera 2.0 for Windows, released as shareware.
- 10 October 1997: Due to popular demand, Opera Software launches "Project Magic", coined at determining who would be willing to purchase a copy of the browser for operating systems other than Windows, and to properly distribute funds to develop or outsource for such operating systems.  On November 30, 1997 they closed voting for which operating system to develop with. Project Magic then became a news column for updates for alternate operating systems until version 4.
- 31 December 1997: Opera 3 was released for multiple operating systems. 
- 1998: Opera 3.5 was released, providing the first implementation of Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) support in the Opera browser.
- 28 June 2000: Opera 4 for Windows was released, introducing a new cross-platform core, and an integrated e-mail client.
- 6 December 2000: Opera 5 was released, replacing the trial period with being ad-sponsored.
- 29 November 2001: Opera 6 released. This version added Unicode support, and a single document interface as an addition to the multiple document interface previous versions had.
- January 2003: Opera 7 introduced a new layout engine called "Presto". This engine had improved CSS support, client-side scripting, and Document Object Model (DOM) support.
- 12 September 2003 Users are offered the choice between generic graphical banners and Google-supplied text-advertisements whose content depended on the page being viewed. 
- August 2004: Opera 7.6 began limited alpha testing. It had more advanced standards support and introduced voice support, including support for Voice XML. Opera also announced a new browser for Interactive Television, which included fit to width, a method for scaling content on web pages to fit on the screen. The technology initially used CSS heavily, but is now internal Opera technology. Opera 7.6 was never released as a final version.
- 12 January 2005: Opera Software announced that it would offer free licenses to higher education institutions a change from the previous cost of $1,000 USD for unlimited licenses. Schools that opted for the free license included Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Harvard University, University of Oxford, Georgia Institute of Technology, and Duke University.
- 20 September 2005. With version 8.50, the built-in advertisements were removed and the browser became available free of charge. The company continued to sell support contracts.  Enhancements included automatic client-side fixing of web sites that did not render correctly, and a number of security fixes.
- On February 7, 2006, Opera Labs was founded to provide a behind-the-scenes look at the latest technology and products, and where any preview/beta versions will be posted.
- February 16, 2006, Opera announced a partnership with Nintendo to develop a version of their browser for Nintendo's DS in Japan  and Europe. 
- 10 May 2006, Opera announced a partnership with Nintendo to develop a version of their browser for Nintendo's new Wii console.
- 20 June 2006, Opera version 9.0 was released.
- 18 December 2006, Opera version 9.10 was released. This version introduced real time Fraud protection.
Opera 10 will be based on a cross-platform experience which will allow the user to begin reading a web page on the desktop, then continue on a mobile phone or PDA. Opera 10 will also include tools that will provide a platform for developers based on open standards. 
In addition to the web browser, the other main component in the desktop versions of the Opera suite is the Opera Mail client, previously known as M2. Opera Mail supports regular POP and SMTP mail as well as IMAP. It also has an Address book. Opera Mail also features a newsreader and a newsfeed reader for RSS and Atom, as well as an IRC client for online chat.
Opera was designed to run on low-end and small computers, with a commitment to computer accessibility for users who may have visual or mobility impairments. It also caters to a wide variety of personal preferences in the user interface.
- It is possible to control nearly every aspect of the browser using only the keyboard, and the default keyboard key definitions can be modified to suit the user. The product supplies several popular styles of key mappings; for example in one, the keys for editing a form entry are similar to those of Emacs. Opera also implements access keys, which allow a computer user to immediately jump to a specific part of a web page via the keyboard. Opera was also one of the first browsers to have mouse gestures, allowing patterns of mouse movement to trigger browser actions, such as "back" or "refresh".
- Page zooming allows text, images and other content such as Macromedia Flash, Java and Scalable Vector Graphics to be increased or decreased in size (20% to 1000%) to help those with impaired vision. User stylesheets may also be used to do this and to enable high contrast coloured fonts.
- Voice control, co-developed with IBM, allows control of the browser without the use of a keyboard or mouse. It can also read aloud pages and marked text. IBM has a browser based on Opera.
- A "Fit to Window" feature that relies on technology similar to Opera Mini's Small Screen Rendering (SSR), allowing websites to fit within a smaller screen without the need for horizontal scrolling.
Opera allows the user to list, pause, resume or restart the downloading of files. It also keeps history of recently downloaded files and allows opening them from within the browser. Opera 9 is also packaged with a torrent plugin, so BitTorrent downloads can be handled just like regular HTTP/FTP downloads.
Opera can also be used with external download managers.
MDI and Tabs
Opera supports tabbed browsing and has a true multiple document interface. This means multiple web pages can be opened within the same application window and resized, moved, tiled and cascaded like normal application windows in the operating system.
In subsequent years the default settings have changed from MDI to the simpler concept of tabs. Since version 6.0, Opera offers users the choice of three modes: Tabs, MDI, and SDI (No tabs).
Opera lets the user control whether web sites can open pop up windows. By default Opera blocks all unrequested popups but can work in a variety of different ways, such as opening a pop-up as a background window, or only blocking pop-ups when they do not result from a user action like clicking on a link. Windows that have been blocked may be later opened at the user's discretion.
Opera can be configured to use proxy servers. It has an built-in cookie editor and cache viewer. Also, a powerful password managing tool called Wand is integrated into the browser.
Opera provides quick access to a variety of search engines and commerce sites, via the use of search plugins. Many search plugins are included with the browser, but they can also be user-defined or installed from an external sources. Opera also allows a user to translate a paragraph or look for meaning of a word directly by a right mouse click.
With the latest version of Opera, a user can have access to any Search Engine without opening the corresponding page. Right Click in a Search Field and then use the CREATE SEARCH option. The Search Engine will be listed in Opera in future.
Opera allows the user to save a collection of open pages as a session. This set of pages can then be opened later in a new Opera window or inserted into the current one. Opera can also be set up to start with the pages that were open when the browser was last closed. A saved session includes the independent history of each page and the settings each page had, such as scrolling position, images on/off, etc.
Each session is saved in a file that can be transferred to another computer via mail or otherwise.
Version 7.0 saw Opera undergo an extensive rewrite with the older Elektra layout engine being replaced with the faster and more powerful Presto layout engine. The new engine brought almost full support for the HTML DOM meaning that parts of, or a whole, page can be re-rendered in response to DOM and script events. (This release also saw incorporation into Macromedia Dreamweaver, now owned by Adobe Systems, for the rendering of web graphics.)
Version 8.0 introduced support for Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) 1.1 Tiny. This marked the first major web browser to natively support some form of SVG.  Opera has a presentation mode called Opera Show, which allows the use of a single HTML or XML document for large-screen presentations, and web browsing.
Version 9.0 is the first Microsoft Windows browser that passes the Acid2 test, proving robustness of its CSS and HTML implementation. This version adds XSLT and improves SVG to 1.1 Basic level.
Opera has a "trash can" button which allows the user to retrieve a tab closed earlier in the same session. The list of deleted tabs is kept until the session is closed and can be used as a temporary bookmark during the session.
User defined themes
Opera supports customized user interfaces themes, allowing users to change the location and style of toolbars, buttons and menus. A drag and drop functionality allows the user to easily place links and buttons on toolbars. Many user-created themes, ranging from color changes to OS adaptations can be downloaded and installed with a few clicks thanks to the built-in automatic installer.
New features in Opera 9
There are several new features in Opera 9. The most important ones are:
- Simple BitTorrent client, targeted towards novice users.
- Content blocker (commonly used as an Advertisement blocker).
- Thumbnail preview of tabs (when hovering mouse over them).
- Widgets - small standalone applications sitting on top of the browser.
- Site specific preferences (pop-up blocking, cookies, scripts, user style sheets, user java scripts, user-agent masking)
- The ability to create search engines from a textfield.
- Improved rich text editing (WYSIWYG editor)
- Redefined default hot keys to be more like Internet Explorer.
- Fraud-Protection (Real-time) Opera tests sites the user visits against Phishtank and Trustwatch (Geotrust) databases to see if they are "Fraudulent" or "Verified". This feature is disabled by default.
- XSLT, XPath
- SVG/1.1 Basic
Opera for devices
Smartphones & PDAs
Opera can dynamically reformat any webpage for narrow tall viewports, such as smartphones and PDA displays. This can also be used with Panels. The technology in itself is proprietary, but authors can affect how webpages look in SSR by using Cascading Style Sheets for the media "handheld". Mobile Versions of Opera which utilize this technology are available on a number of smartphones and PDAs, including those produced by Nokia, BenQ, Sony Ericsson, Sharp Corporation, Sendo, Kyocera, Motorola, and Psion.
Opera Mini is a free compact browser for mobile phones and other devices that have Java ME installed. It uses Opera's servers to render and compress pages before sending the binary data to a small display program run by the phone. The method makes many pages mobile-compatible.
On January 1, 2006 Opera announced that Google will be its default partner for its mobile browser. 
On February 15, 2006, Opera announced that they had developed a web browser for the Nintendo DS.  It will take advantage of the system's dual screens for either zooming in on certain sections of a website or having a longer vertical view. The browser has gone on sale in Japan on July 24 2006, for 3,800 yen. (32.15 USD). It has been released in Europe on October 6, 2006. So far no U.S. release date has been mentioned.
On May 10, 2006 Opera announced that it will be developing a browser for Nintendo's Wii console. "For our Wii console launch in 2006, we required a browser that was fast and secure with support for the latest standards including AJAX. Opera proved perfect for our purposes and is an exceptional addition to both the Nintendo DS and the Wii console," said Genyo Takeda, senior managing director and general manager, Integrated Research & Development Division, Nintendo Co., Ltd.  A trial version of the browser is currently available via the Wii Software page of the Wii Shop Channel.
On Aug 23, 2006 Opera announced that it will be supplying the browser for the Sony mylo handheld instant messaging / web browsing multi-media device.
Main Opera powered devices
- Nintendo Wii
- Archos 604 WiFi
- Nintendo DS
- Nokia 770
- Sony Mylo
- NDS MediaHighway Advanced (Pilottime)
- Mood Box
- Archos PMA400
- Sharp Zaurus
- Thales TopSeries In-Flight Entertainment
- Amino AmiNET
- Opera devices gallery
- Mobiles with Opera Pre-installed
Common compatibility problems are caused by websites not following standards or using outdated methods for detecting the browser being used. Websites are sometimes tested only with Internet Explorer and fail to work correctly with other browsers.
To cope with outdated detection methods or poorly built websites, Opera enables users to change the information that is sent to websites to identify what kind of browser is being used -- known as the user-agent. In previous years, Opera came preconfigured to partially "cloak" itself as Internet Explorer, but still included the word "Opera" in the user-agent information allowing the browser to be counted in web statistics. As websites modernized themselves and Opera 9 became more compatible with IE code, Opera began to use its own identification by default.
Version 8 of Opera introduced a further provision for dealing with faulty coding, by providing a set of scripts in BrowserJS that rewrites known broken pages as they are being opened. The closely-related UserJS (similar to Mozilla's Greasemonkey), allows users to run their own code at various times in the processing of a page. These techniques have allowed many popular but incompatible sites to be used fully with Opera. 
Opera periodically updates itself with the latest version of BrowserJS and ua.ini .
It is notable in the face of criticisms of rendering accuracy, that Opera 9.0 passes the Acid2 rendering test by the Web Standards Project, which is designed to test compliance with the latest HTML, CSS and other web standards. Browsers such as Internet Explorer 7 and Firefox 2 do not pass this test.
- Statistics reference: Usage share of web browsers
As of October 2006, usage data gives Opera's overall global share of the browser market as being between 0.5% and 1.0%, although Opera's usage share is over 12% in Ukraine, over 9% in Russia, and over 6% in Poland and Lithuania.
Since its first release in 1996, the browser has had limited success on desktop computers in the face of competitors including Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, and Netscape. Opera Software has had more success in the area of mobile browsing, with product releases for a variety of platforms. There is not currently any substantial data on mobile browsing statistics (perhaps due to the tiny proportion of browsing that occurs on equipment other than desktop or laptop computers). Opera's availability on many platforms has given users access to a highly functional browser where this choice did not previously exist.
Novell distributes the Linux version of Opera (based on the Qt Library) with its SUSE Linux distribution. Prior to version 3, Xandros included Opera in its Open Circulation Edition as the default browser, but now distributes Firefox.
Available for Nintendo DS and Nintendo DS Lite is an Opera version that comes on a regular DS game card, but with an additional GameBoy cardridge for extra memory that can be plugged into the DS's 2nd port. This will allow the Nintendo DS to access the World Wide Web. A version of the Opera Browser is available for the Wii via the Internet Channel. A Beta version of the Internet Channel may currently be downloaded for free from the Wii Shop Channel. In March 2007, the full version will become available for free until June 2007, after which it will be downloadable for 500 Wii Points. The browser can be stored on the Wii's internal flash memory or on an SD card.
Ubuntu is cooperating with their 6.x versions so Ubuntu users can easily download Opera 9. Gentoo allows users to download and install Opera using the Portage package management system.
Latest release versions
Note: The latest version number may differ between languages; these numbers are for the original English (US) version.
- Microsoft Windows: 9.10 (Windows 95 and later)
- Microsoft Windows: 3.62 (Windows 3.x)
- Mac OS X: 9.10; Mac OS: 6.03
- Linux i386, SPARC and PowerPC: 9.10
- Linux arm: 7.6 (see note below)
- FreeBSD i386: 9.10
- Solaris SPARC and i386: 9.10
- OS/2: 5.12
- BeOS: 3.62
- QNX: 6.0.1
- Symbian OS Series 60: 8.60 (Series 60 3rd and 2nd Edition)
- Symbian OS Series 60: 6.20 (Series 60 1st Edition)
- Symbian OS UIQ: 6.31
- EPOC: 5.14
- Windows Mobile: 8.60
- Java ME (Opera Mini): 3.0 - (for mobile phones and other devices with MIDP 1.0 or higher Java support)
- Pocket PC: 8.60 
- Windows CE: 8.60
Beta releases for the desktop platforms (Microsoft Windows, Linux, Mac OS X) are tested by a selected group of beta testers. Announcements of technical preview versions are posted on Opera's newsgroup, forums, and the mailing-list, so the public can test and discuss new features. On 20 April 2006, a beta version of Opera v9 was released.
The public beta for version 9.0 became the first Microsoft Windows browser to pass the Acid2 browser test..
Since February 13, 2006, Opera has on the Desktop Team blog been releasing weekly builds every Friday, and sometimes a "mid-week" build before then. These builds are not meant for public consumption and are concidered technological preview releases.
Opera has been criticized for:
Bug tracking system
Opera Software is not running a publicly readable bug tracking system. This leads to users either not subimitting, or submitting duplicate bug reports. This was brought to the attention of Opera Software's CEO Jon S. von Tetzchner in January 2006 , but no change has been made since.
- My Opera Community
- Opera Mini
- Opera Software
- Information appliance
- List of IRC clients
- List of news clients
- List of web browsers
- Comparison of web browsers
- Comparison of e-mail clients
- Comparison of widget engines
- Browser timeline
- ^ About Opera, URL accessed on 21 April 2006
- ^ MultiTorg Opera, retrieved on November 5, 2005
- ^ Opera web browser, retrieved on May 8, 2006
- ^ Opera Software's amazing 'Project Magic' from the Internet Archive
- ^ 'Project Magic' -- 10 February 1998 and beyond From the Internet Archive
- ^ Latest News - 3.0 officially released! From the Internet Archive
- ^ 'Opera 7.20 beta 11 for windows w/Google "Rads"' From the my.opera community
- ^ Students surf safely with Opera: Opera site license free for educational institutions, January 12, 2005, retrieved on October 25, 2005
- ^ Get back old preferences dialog, retrieved on October 25, 2005
- ^ Feel Free: Opera Eliminates Ad Banner and Licensing Fee, retrieved on October 25, 2005
- ^ Opera employee Hallvord Steen explains Opera's work on compatibility
- ^ Opera Labs
- ^ Opera for Nintendo DS Japan
- ^ Opera for Nintendo DS Europe
- ^ A Web Revolution in the Living room: Opera partners with Nintendo to put browser on the Wii game console. Opera. Retrieved on 2006-09-11.
- ^ Your Web, Your Choice: Opera 9 Gives You the Control, URL accessed on 20 June 2006
- ^ Espiner, Tom "Opera reveals version 10 vision", C-NET News, July 26 2006
- ^ Building a better computer mouse, Evan Hansen, October , 2002, retrieved on October 30, 2005
- ^ IBM article on multimodal technology, retrieved on October 25, 2005
- ^ CSS: If not now, when?, Eric Meyer, June 1999, retrieved on October 25, 2005
- ^ Opera Adds SVG Tiny Support to Desktop Browser. svg.org. Retrieved on 2006-09-12.
- ^ Operas new fraud protection to be off by default
- ^ Reuters: Opera Software chooses Google as search partner, URL accessed on 15 April 2006
- ^ Giving gamers two windows to the Web: The Opera Browser for Nintendo DS, URL accessed 15 April 2006
- ^ Giving gamers two windows to the Web: The Opera Browser for Nintendo DS. Opera Software (February 15, 2006). Retrieved on 2006-04-02.
- ^ Chris Playo. Japan: Nintendo DS Press Conference. Retrieved on 2006-04-02.
- ^ Japan: Opera partners with Nintendo.
- ^ UserJS site
- ^ Opera employee Hallvord Steen explains Opera's work on compatibility
- ^ Acid2 and Opera 9 Clarifications: Yes, Opera 9 Passes the Test. The Web Standards Project.
- ^ RankingCEE.com, URL accessed on 26 November 2006
- ^ Yandex.ru, URL accessed on 26 November 2006
- ^ Spylog.ru, URL accessed on 26 November 2006
- ^ Opera Winmobile site
- ^ Opera Beta forum, retrieved on October 29, 2005
- ^ Weblog of Tim Altman, Opera employee
- ^ Why doesn't Opera support extensions?
- ^ Opera Widgets.
- Underdahl, Brian; Hakon Wium Lie (2000). Opera Web Browser For Dummies. Wiley. ISBN 0-7645-0683-8.
- Lyster, J.S. (2001). The Opera 5.X Book: Browsing the Web With Speed and Style. No Starch Press. ISBN 1-886411-47-6.
- Opera Software Homepage
- My Opera Community includes discussion, customisation, blogs and fan-sites
- Opera Widgets Repository of widgets available for download
- Opera Labs news from the Opera developer center
- Desktop Team latest weekly builds of Opera browser
- Developer's Corner has a wealth of information of development with the Opera browser
- Opera Search is the default home page Opera uses.
- Opera Bug Reporting Wizard is where all bug/error reports intended to help Opera should go.
- Opera Documentation includes information for: Specifications, Changelogs, Changing files and settings, Plug-ins and file formats
- #Opera Opera IRC channel
- Opera Watch A blog covering the latest news about Opera, written by Daniel Goldman
- Opera Wiki
- Planet Opera An aggregation of Opera blogs
- Secunia.com − Vulnerability report for Opera 9