Internet Explorer 8

Filed under:Browsers — posted by Svein Kåre on 9 December 2007 @ 18:38

Internet Explorer 7 has been out for a year now, and in the IE Blog we have been able to read about the work they’ve done with it and related issues (Active-X, silverlight, …). The last entry in November told us about how IE7 is doing, security wise, support calls, and a bit more. But while IE7 was a nice step up from IE6, it’s still lacking in standards compatibility, so what many wants to know is what’s going on with the next version of the browser. After all, we were promised that we shouldn’ have to wait so long between updates now.

Well, Wednesday the 5th of December is a day to remember. In the blog they proudly presented the following: The next version of Internet Explorer will be called — wait for it — Internet Explorer 8. And, that’s really it.

Wow!

We were told that we shouldn’t mistake the silence with inaction, but what’s actually being done they don’t reveal. We will laer, we’re promised, but… So far, Molly Holzschlag gives us more information in an article about some questions she asked Bill Gates about the browser and information given, and in the comments we also learn from her that IE8 will have a new rendering engine. She would like to tell us more, but can’t because of her NDA — but reveal that what she’s heard so far is to her liking. As she’s very concerned with standards, that sounds a bit promising, but so far all we can do is wait and speculate.

What exactly is the NDA about? It can’t be that they’re implementing even more support for standards, can it? So we’ll have to assume there are new features. She also wrote it’s going to be a new engine, so the old one must’ve been scrapped. As we know from the Opera development blog sometimes the old engine have to be scrapped and a new being written, to be able to support the new stuff properly. Or at all. So we can hope for some real good changes, then.

Apropos Opera — fun how to see the difference between what we’re told about that browser and IE. It’s perfectly OK that we’re not told everything, but… From Opera ASA we’re told openly about Opera 9.5 and what they implement, we even get to try the latest builds each week. We’ve even been told a little about Opera 10, that it will use yet another rendering engine, why, and what we can expect from it. And from Microsoft, so far we’ve learned that the next browser will increment the version number by one…

Rendered beautiful or accessed effectively?

Filed under:Browsers,Web development — posted by Svein Kåre on 7 September 2006 @ 00:26

I just stumbled upon a post about Operas PR-manager Eskil Sivertsen’s comments on Nokias S60 browser — where he basically agrees with the review in the Register. Not everyone agrees with him, of course, and think his words were harsh. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion of course, and our tastes vary, but one of the comments made me stop up and think a bit:

Concerning Opera mini – I really don’t like the way the browser changes the layout of full HTML pages to fit the viewing platform, as it means the designers lose control of how their pages look. I much prefer the S60 browser’s solution to viewing large pages on a small screen.

If I want pages optimized for a small screen I’ll use WAP. I personally believe that the responsibility of a proper page layout/viewing rests with the page designer and not the browser app.

My thoughts are spinning around this question: How important is the original layout, as the designer meant the site to be seen?

One point to consider here is the purpose of the design. Is it meant to make the site look pretty and inviting only? To enhance the readability of the text? To guide where you’re viewing to the most interesting links and pages on the site? Is the design important to the content, that the design itself provides part of the content? A second point is about the content itself: Is it meant to be read? Or just viewed, or what?

I think it will be safe to claim that for most sites, the point is for the content to be read. Maybe commented on and be discussed, but definitely read. In this case, how important is it that the design is preserved, in every case? It would be nice when it’s logical, but are the cases when it’s not that logical to preserve the original design?

Sites are usually designed to be viewed on a large screen, and the designs are based on this situation. Few sites are designed for smaller screens (or other media) even though there’s a lot of talk about accessing the web with mobile phones these days. What shall the browser on these phones do, if there are no stylesheets for them to tell how the design is supposed to be on small screens? After all — doesn’t this mean “sorry, no design for you”?

The phone browsers do handle it differently. Some pretend to have big screens, and zoom in on parts of it to make it possible to read. Other browsers reformat the whole thing and present a long, narrow page. (Are there more than Opera that does this?) Which of these approaces respect the designer’s wishes? Which are correct? And which are best?

The browsers that pretend to have big screens may be said to respect the designer — if the designer meant that all devices should behave like a big screen. However, if the designer meant “I don’t know what’s the best design for this device — present the content as you wish” then any rendering is OK. The correct way to render would be to follow the specified style sheet for small screens, if presents, and render without styles if not. (At least to my understanding — you may disagree.) The best way?

The best way would be to render the page so that the content is accessed effectively, i.e. easy to read, and that it’s quick and easy to navigate. If it’s hard to read what’s on the page, and navigation is complicated, then something’s wrong. It doesn’t harm that the browser is fast either, and have effective use of available memory.

So, which browser is best? You decide.

Aliens prefer Firefox

Filed under:Browsers,Humour — posted by Svein Kåre on 17 August 2006 @ 21:51

I have it from respectable sources that the various crop circles are proof that aliens exist, because many of the geometrical patterns that are made are too complicated for humans to make in such a short time span as is used it many cases. Logically, it follows that aliens prefer Firefox.

They probably havent discovered Opera yet, or the Opera logo is too simple to make a crop circle of – who would it impress? 😉

Greatest widget?

Filed under:Browsers — posted by Svein Kåre on 14 August 2006 @ 23:55

Artist's SketchbookIf you use Opera, you may use many of its features on a daily basis. If you research stuff, you may use the built in notebook to jot down information you find (or copy it directly from the pages), or maybe write down ideas for some creative writing. But if you’re an artist and get ideas for drawings or paintings while you’re browsing, what do you do? Put the computer aside and find a sketchbook? Fire up Photoshop? Well – here comes widgets to the rescue!

The author of Artist’s Sketchbook recently won a MacBook in the competition in the Oera Community – and well deserved. This widget is – as the name suggests – a sketchbook. You get an idea while browsing? Just open the widget and start drawing and painting with different tools and brushes, while the idea is fresh. When finished, just export and save your mastepiece, and continue surfing the web, ready for any new idea at any time.

Now that’s one widget I’ll keep installed!

Bittorrent and Opera 9

Filed under:Browsers — posted by Svein Kåre on 3 July 2006 @ 02:02

Opera LogoI see from my server logs that many visitors come here after searching for Opera 9 and bittorrent. It could mean that bittorrent is a popular feature in Opera — had it not been for an additional word in many of the searches: Disable. While some want to know more about how bittorrent is used, quite a few (of my visitors) want to know how to disable the feature. Quick answer: Type opera:config in the address bar, find the bittorrent section, uncheck enable.

Does this mean that the inclusion of bittorrent in Opera is a failure? Oh no, far from it. While it’s easy to get started with bittorrent this way, without needing to learn something new to start using it, the bittorrent client in Opera is a simple client. People who already are using bittorrent will most likely want to use the client they’re already using, as it may have more features or they’re just used to it. New users on the other hand may appreciate it a lot.

Not everyone knows how bittorrent works, and how to get started. Downloading a .torrent-file, then open it in their bittorent client? For some that don’t know how this work and how to set it up, this is an obstacle they can’t pass, and thus give up. The way Opera solves this problem is to make the process very simple: Click a link, and choose where to download the file. Just like you download any other file. The only difference is a couple extra messages from Opera during the process, one in the beginning and one when the download has finished, to explain what is happening. But you don’t have to learn anything new to get started.

Maybe those who get started with bittorrent on Opera will continue to use it, or maybe they will prefer other clients later on. In any case, Opera will be a nice and easy introduction to bittorrent for many.

What does Opera DS support?

Filed under:Browsers — posted by Svein Kåre on 30 June 2006 @ 01:33

Opera has got a lot of press with its deals with Nintendo, to make the browser for the Nintendo DS and Wii. There has been a lot of excitement around this, and several have first learned about Opera because of this, and tested it out on their computer, too. Some like it a lot, others are more reserved – as should be expected. However, many are very interested in what Opera will support on the DS and Wii.

Compared to the desktop versions for PC, Mac, *nix – the soon to be released Nintendo DS version doesn’t support much. No PDF, no Flash, no Java… Many people who would like to visit sites like YouTube with their Nintendo DS have been disappointed to learn this – many disappointed with Opera for not supporting this stuff.

Now, of course they should be allowed to be disappointed – but who should they be disappointed with? Opera? Or someone else?

When we look at it, Opera does the same on the Nintendo boxes as they do on the PC: They make the browser. They don’t make the Flash or PDF support: Adobe does that. They don’t make Java: Sun does that. Apple makes the Quicktime plugin. Should we expect anything else on Nintendo DS? I don’t think so. Opera makes the browser – had Adobe made Flash available for the DS, I’m sure Opera would’ve supported it there, too.

So, enjoy Opera DS, those of you who get it, there’s lot of enjoyment to get without those plugins, too. And who knows, maybe Nintendo strikes a deal with Adobe and others, too, to make plugins possible?

Canada #1 in Firefox usage in the world?

Filed under:Browsers — posted by Svein Kåre on 21 May 2006 @ 01:33

Some articles appeared in my usual search today, telling that Canada leads the world in Firefox usage. “It is interesting to see that global usage share of Mozilla is higher in the USA and Canada as in other countries in the world and that the global usage share of Apple’s Safari is still growing” said Niels Brinkman, co-founder of OneStat.com.

The numbers for the world, USA and Canada are shown:
World: 11.79%, USA: 12.91%, Canada: 16.00%

Other browsers are shown too, but in this case, it’s the Firefox numbers that are interesting, because I can’t quite see that those numbers justify the claim that Canada is #1 in Firefox usage…

Back in April, which is not too long ago, there were some other numbers that were making headlines. Here we see that there are countries where Firefox usage is way over the 16% Canada’s now sporting. Up to 35.77% in Slovenia, and 19.4% for Europe in total.

So, unless something dramatic has happened in countries over the world, the Firefox usage in Canada is higher than USA and world in total, but not higher in Canada than in any other country in the world. That’s the bad news. The good news is that Firefox usage is even higher than Canadas 16% in several countries. 😉

Bittorrent in Opera 9

Filed under:Browsers — posted by Svein Kåre on 16 May 2006 @ 02:28

Now that bittorrent once again is included in Opera, and this time to stay, I though I could upgrade my earlier post so that those who arrive at these pages looking for the information, will get an updated and correct version. Opera 9 will have it slightly different from the 8.02 technical preview, in that it will be easier to configure.

First of all, remember that you need Opera 9, which currently is in beta. There is no plug in to make it work in earlier versions. While the beta version isn’t perfect, it’s quite stable, so it’s quite usable as the default browser, if you prefer. But – how does bittorrent in Opera 9 work?

Well – it couldn’t be easier. Torrent downloads are initiated by loading a small torrent-file in the bittorrent client, and in opera, you just click on the link to the torrent file, choose where to save the download, and off you go. Just as easy as a normal download, and it shows up in the standard download manager. When the download is finished, there is an extra addition to the notification, saying that you’ll keep sharing the file until you manually stop it.

When you get the dialog box where to download, there is an option there to set the preferences. What some have wondered about is where they can find the preferences without starting a torrent download. It’s not obvious, but in the address bar, you can type opera:config, and you’ll get a nice page with everything you can configure in Opera. Bittorrent is almost at the top.

The preferences are:

Bandwidth Restriction Mode
1 = automatic upload restriction, unlimited download, 2 = fixed rate restrictions for upload and download
Enable
Enable/disable bittorrent. If you prefer an external program, disable the internal client here
Listen Port
Port for incoming connections (make sure your port is available).
Log File
Well – it’s where you want the log file…
Max Download Rate
Maximum download rate in KB/s. Used only if bandwidth restriction mode is set to 2
Max Upload Rate
Maximum upload rate in KB/s. Used only if bandwidth restriction mode is set to 2
Warning Dialog
Enable/disable – Displays warning dialog before initiating BitTorrent download

There it is. Now you can try out Opera 9 and the built in bittorrent client yourself. 😉

Opera Wii, Opera? Wheeee!

Filed under:Browsers — posted by Svein Kåre on 15 May 2006 @ 04:50

The new Nintendo Wii seems to have got som press lately, and the fact that Opera is going to be included also.What – if anything – does this mean to the popularity and usage of Opera compared to other browsers? At the moment, Opera seems to be at the 1% mark globally, but will we see a rise in Opera users now, with Opera on Nintendo DS and Nintendo Wii?

It depends. Some don’t see the use of a browser on a game console, and don’t think it will be used. Others love the idea, and can’t wait to use it. On the Nintendo DS they could also easily use the browser anywhere where they can connect to internet – which means many places. But basing predictions on general usage on what youself like or have use for is rarely a success. I guess Nintendo have thought long and hard though, and not just spent lots of money to include Opera just for fun – they’ve got to think there’s a market for it.

I don’t know how many game consoles Nintende expect to sell, but it will be several millions. Several millions potentional Opera users, too. I doubt everyone will use the Wii or DS to use the web, but still, there should be a lot. But – does the deal between Nintendo and Opera have further implications? Sure!

One thing is, Opera will be known to more people. Already on Nintendo forums I see people saying they’ve never heard of Opera until the news about this deal. Some of them check it out, and discover that they can get it for their PC/Mac/other too. Some are bound to try it, and start using it.

Another thing is, that if/when all these Opera users show up in the web logs for different sites, it will become obvious that you shouldn’t design for one or two browsers – as too many still do – but develop for standards, and then make adjustments for the browsers that need it because of bugs or lack of implementation. This would benefit everyone, not just Opera users.

So – it’ll be interesting to see, how much Opera for Wii and DS will be used, and how this will effect web sites. At least, I’m curious. 😉

Opera – the perfect browser for common people

Filed under:Browsers — posted by Svein Kåre on 13 May 2006 @ 02:57

Opera is a versatile browser – it has lots of features, nicely collected in one package, and many of us don’t know how we can get by without it. Now, from time to time I read some opinions, that the Opera browser are for technical people only, not for “common people”. This is of course pure hogwash.

First of all, why should Opera be a browser for technical people only? This isn’t always easy to know, as reasons for the claim are mostly absent. However, the following seems to mostly sum up the various views: Opera has a lot of features, so obviously it must be advanced, and thus difficult, which means a browser for technical people. Besides, most people have no need for all those features anyway. Some may also think “normal people” can’t configure the browser like they want it.

It does look a bit silly seeing the reasons written like that, but still – it is how I see the reasons, when they’re mentioned. Personally, I think the real reasons are far simpler than that. It may not be nice of me to say it, but it often sounds like the real reasons are something along “It doesn’t look like I’m used to” or “I don’t want to change browser, so I’m making up excuses not to consider the alternative.”

I know, I’m probably nasty for saying it, but honestly – I’m not able to find a well argued reason behind any claims that Opera is for technical people, or that Opera is complicated. I only see unwillingness to try, or to admit that Opera is a sensible choice – because it’s a different browser from what they themselves are using.

That some are unable to give any reasons for their positions doesn’t mean they’re wrong – so when I claim they are, I’d better be able to provide some arguments myself. So here goes. Opera is not a browser for technical people only, nor a technical browser itself as such, because – well, it’s a browser, that does what a browser should do, without any nonsense. You just start to use it like you would use any other normal browser: Type in URLs in the address field, visit web pages as you usually do, follow links, go back and forth in history, fill in forms as usual, play flash games…

Opera doesn’t look exactly like <insert your favourite other browser here> but – different browser do look different to each other. Some also have more extra features than others, which makes it only natural to look different, too. Besides, if you don’t like Opera, it’s easy to change how you want it to look. Just right click on a toolbar, and off you go customising. In an easy to use dialog box, you choose which toolbars and panels you want to show and where, add buttons on the toolbars you want, drag them around with the mouse – soon you’ll have a browser customised to your liking, without any complicated, technical stuff to do. You can also save different configurations if you want it for different tasks (studying, web developing, playing, …) and quickly change between them.

But extra features, other than pure browsing. What may they be? If you want, you can activate the email client, by just setting up an email account. Some love the client, some don’t. Some prefer a separate client, some want it in the browser, and some didn’t think an email client had anything to do until they tried the one in Opera. It works differently from most other email clients, by using filters instead of folders, so that one email can be in several filters instead of just one. Much like what GMail adopted.

Opera also have built in RSS-feeds/web feeds or what you like to call them. Initially it’s hidden, so if you’re not interested, it won’t get in your way. If you like it, it’s available as soon as you start subscribing on a feed, by clicking on a feed link, or the blue RSS-icon/orange feed icon in the address bar. A feature I recommend very much, by the way.

Like to chat? Opera includes an IRC-client, too – if you want it. And a news client. As usual, they stay out of your way until you set up the accounts for using them. Notebook? It’s there when you need to copy interesting stuff from a web page. I could go on, especially if I include the coming Opera 9, but the best ting is this: You don’t need any technical know how to use any of these features. Anyone can get started with Opera, and set it up just like they want.


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image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace