Opera Software University Seminar

Gareth Saunders
Tuesday 21 October 2008
Chris Mills, Opera's Developer Relationship Manager talking about Web Standards
Chris Mills, Opera's Developer Relationship Manager talking about Web Standards

Yesterday Steve and I attended the Opera Software University Seminar being held in the Jack Cole Building (the School of Computer Science).

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

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:

  1. Opera Desktop
    Browser for your Windows, Linux or Mac machine.
  2. Opera for Devices
    Browser for set-top boxes, games devices such as the Wii, portable media players and more.
  3. Opera Mini
    Browser for your Java-enabled mobile phone.
  4. 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.

Web Standards

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.


One nice feature of Opera for developers is their Dragonfly debugging tools, currently in Alpha 2.  While not quite as advanced as Firebug for Firefox, since Firebug has been around for much long, they do offer a good set of tools allowing inspection of DOM, CSS and JavaScript.  There is also the ability to debug pages running on another computer or even your phone, which is great.

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.

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2 thoughts on "Opera Software University Seminar"

  • [...] which all use the same rendering engine?), Web Standards and a brief dive into HTML 5 and CSS 3.

  • David Storey
    Saturday 1 November 2008, 11.25pm

    This is just a quick note to let you know that the third alpha of Opera Dragonfly is out now. We've fixed your niggle with the older version—it now displays lower case DOM by default for text/html. We can't force lower case for XML as XML is case sensitive. It has also added support for DOM editing.


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