Opera 9.5 is Released

I got the new browser today. It was a pretty quick download and install. At first opening it, I was surprised by the new appearance, but I like it. The default scheme is called “Sharp”, as described in The Emperor’s New Clothes. There is also a provided Windows native skin (as I use XP), which isn’t nearly as attractive looking. I do think the tab bar is just a bit too tall, it really stands out as it is.

Besides the default skin, the browser has a number of new features. They include:

Better rendering
The standards support is pretty good. Bits of CSS3 support have been added. There is a new script engine which executes script code very quickly. The browser passes the ACID2 test, and gets 83 out of 100 on ACID3. Certainly not perfect, but not bad either. Perhaps the next major release will pass!

Opera Link
Sharing the same bookmarks and settings across seperate computers is always an annoyance. The Opera team have built a web tool that allows you to synchronize bookmarks, speed dial pages, notes, and settings across multiple computers and mobile devices – Opera Mini is included in this initiative.

Enhanced address bar
When you type in the address bar, Opera shows a list of titles and addresses of pages containing what you have typed so far. It includes recently visited pages as well as popular sites on the web. This could be useful for quickly finding information without having to go to a search engine.

One advantage Firefox has had over other browsers for some time is the Web Developer and Firebug extensions, which are so useful when doing web development. Opera now has similar features through a built-in tool panel called Dragonfly. It features a JavaScript debugger, DOM inspector, CSS inspector, and error console. Dragonfly is a sort of hybrid application, being both desktop-based and web-based. This provides the best of both worlds, as it is stored locally, and yet is updated automatically via the web. Dragonfly is not yet fully-featured, as it is still maturing. Work is ongoing, and is documented at the Dragonfly blog. There is a full intro to the tool available.

As far as performance goes, the browser is very responsive. It loads pages quickly, somewhat faster than Firefox 2, although not hugely so. I’ll have some interesting comparisons to do when Firefox 3 is released!

That’s just the most interesting – to me – additions to this new release. The official site has a more comprehensive listing on what has been added or changed. So check it out, already.

My take: Opera 9.5 is a modern browser worthy of regular use. It is worth the time to download and try it out at the very least.