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Focus Areas during Kestrel Development

You may have read by now that the first public alpha of Kestrel is planned for next Tuesday, September 4th. Since there's still a couple days before then, we wanted to tell you a bit more about what to expect from Kestrel. Kestrel is the product of over a year of development, which began in our code repository on June 20, 2006. Since then, we've developed several major new features, fixed thousands of bugs, and made Opera the best it's ever been.

We've been dropping bits of information about Kestrel for several months now and it's time to reveal some more about this release. Users have suggested many new features and we're happy to be able to deliver some of them this time around. In Kestrel, we focused on five things: performance, site compatibility, accessibility, OS integration, and Opera Mail.

Performance

Opera's already fast, but we're not satisfied with fast. We want to do even better, which is why we've been focusing on a lot of performance problems over the past year. Two of the outcomes of this focus are our new ECMAscript engine and the new indexing and storage back-ends for Opera Mail. The new ECMAscript engine has been a pet project of our lead ECMAscript developer for several years and he's recently passed on his pride and joy to two other programming language junkies. The new ECMAscript engine uses fewer resources than anything we've done previously. Many parts are faster than the previous ECMAscript engine, but we still are working on further boosting the speed of the engine.

Opera Mail has seen similar improvements. The new indexing and storage back-ends use less memory, access the hard drive less often, and perform normal functions faster. Many users have complained about freezes when Opera Mail is checking for new mail or newsfeeds. These problems are largely gone. Mail checking and processing is faster and indexing and searching are more reliable.

Many other parts of Opera have seen speed boosts as well. The end result is faster, smoother surfing. That's something that everyone can enjoy.

Site Compatibility

With the release of Opera 8.5, we answered one of the biggest complaints from our users: Opera wasn't free. Since then, we've been focusing on the second biggest complaint: site compatibility. In the interest of stability, Opera hasn't seen many rendering engine fixes since Opera 9.0 was released over a year ago. That's about to change in a big way. We've fixed thousands of bugs in our rendering engine and we'll be delivering those fixes to you on Tuesday. There's still a lot more that we're planning to do and some messes to clean up, so expect to see continued progress on the rendering engine throughout the alpha and beta phases.

Some site compatibility issues can be solved by adding new functionality. That's why Kestrel includes support for things like the "overflow-x" and "overflow-y" CSS properties, JavaScript Getters and Setters, and line-/block-breaking in rich text editors. We've also fixed problems seen at Google's sites, in the default WordPress template, and in various JavaScript libraries. Opera is a web browser, after all, and Kestrel can handle more sites, better and faster than ever before.

Accessibility

Since support for screenreaders was removed in Opera 7, we've had our attention on other features. With Kestrel, we're bringing our focus back to accessibility. Kestrel includes experimental support for screenreaders such as Window-Eyes, Jaws, and VoiceOver on OS X. We're also working on support for ARIA (Accessible Rich Internet Applications from the W3C). We're happy that once again users with visual disabilities can use Opera. Special thanks to Aaron Leventhal from IBM and GW Micro (makers of Window-Eyes) for their valuable feedback.

Our work on accessibility doesn't stop with screenreader support. We've improved spatial navigation and made keyboard shortcuts more accessible for new users. There will be some significant changes in existing keyboard shortcuts, but hopefully this will be the last major refactoring we do. Many users have run into problems inadvertently making changes via single-key shortcuts, so all single-key shortcuts (such as 1/2 to switch tabs, Z/X to navigate history, etc.) are disabled by default. They can easily be re-enabled in the Preferences.

OS Integration

Though Opera is a cross-platform browser, we try to make it feel at home on each platform. This work continues in Kestrel. Opera now works better on Vista, and integrates better with Default programs dialog on XP and Vista. On OS X, Opera looks and feels more like a native OS X application, with improved tabs, better default fonts, and pulsing buttons. We're releasing 64-bit builds for the first time, so Opera will work on 64-bit FreeBSD and Linux systems without work-arounds. Furthermore, Opera does a better job handling default applications on all platforms.

Opera Mail

Opera Mail is long overdue for an overhaul and you'll see the initial stages of that overhaul in Kestrel. As previously mentioned, we've rewritten the indexing and storage back-ends, but that's not all. Kestrel also includes a new IMAP back-end that solves problems when working with multiple clients, supports hierarchical mailbox display, and fixes various other problems. The Mail panel has been refreshed and we've improved draft message handling. Opera Mail is now more stable, faster, and less buggy. The initial release will have some rough edges, but we'll be smoothing things out as we approach the final release of Kestrel.

Much More

Some of the most exciting changes in Kestrel haven't been mentioned yet, so there's still plenty to look forward to next week. Join us in #weekly to discuss Kestrel, enjoy the weekend, and rest up because the race toward Kestrel final starts Tuesday!

Happy birthday JonGo and get Opera 9.5 alpha!

Comments

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:cool:

Originally posted by Junyor:

Kestrel is planned for next Tuesday, September 4th.
Coming Tuesday.

:wait: for Tuesday.

By Tamil, # 31. August 2007, 18:52:39

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The Merlin Java/ECMA script engine is the only thing on my system that can cause a 100% CPU load- not even building a kernel does that. I can't wait for any improvements in that arena.

By kennycrudup, # 31. August 2007, 18:53:27

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Thank you for the information. It makes the waiting a bit more shorter, I guess...

By ar1pe, # 31. August 2007, 19:00:59

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:yes: :hat: Thanks ODevs :up:

Just one question- Are those redraw bugs fixed in kestrel ?

By AyushJ, # 31. August 2007, 19:05:45

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i wait on version beta 9.50

By lukjan, # 31. August 2007, 19:12:01

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@AyushJ: Some, but not all, are.

By Junyor, # 31. August 2007, 19:12:36

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"Opera now works better on Vista, and integrates better with Default programs dialog on XP and Vista."

I can only hope that means Opera will use the default Windows scroll bars... I dislike the current ones (that get bright yellow when highlighted).

Other than that, everything sounds quite good.

... As a follow up to my last post in the previous news, what about rounded corners (CSS3 border-radius) ?

By Captain Stifu, # 31. August 2007, 19:12:58

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I'm curious about the OS X integration. I hope you didn't just improve the emulation of the GUI, but instead somehow managed to use the native controls, even though as a developer I can guess how difficult that would be.
Anyway, it better be good! p:

By rObkE, # 31. August 2007, 19:13:00

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@Captain Stifu: No, it has nothing to do with scrollbars. Have you tried the Windows Native skin? No border-radius support (yet).

By Junyor, # 31. August 2007, 19:15:48

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I just wish Opera could have a native Qt theme... I'd sooo like to have that in Kestrel...

Waiting for Tuesday! :D

By aleksanteri, # 31. August 2007, 19:16:35

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@Tim/Junyor: OK, Thanks for the fast reply. :up:

Originally posted by Captain Stifu:

I can only hope that means Opera will use the default Windows scroll bars
Opera already uses windows scrollbars on Windows Native theme.

By AyushJ, # 31. August 2007, 19:17:26

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I hope that Opera servers are ready for high traffic load on Tuesday ;-).

By rejdi, # 31. August 2007, 19:18:44

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@rejdi

hahahahah


Still waiting :smile:

:heart:

:wait:

:love:

:headbang:

By JoRgE-1987, # 31. August 2007, 19:32:30

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Are there going to be OS Integration improvements for linux too (like kde native, or somehow better dialogs than now...)?

By kriko, # 31. August 2007, 19:37:06

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"Opera now works better on Vista, and integrates better with Default programs dialog on XP and Vista."

Does that also include full support of 'Drag and Drop' as it could be expected from every other standard Windows application?

For example, copying blocks of text, images, URL's or even storing web-snippets...

TIA

By HaJotKE, # 31. August 2007, 19:41:21

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Slurp Slurp ...
Gnam Gnam ...

Very Good News !!
Thanks

By SoulOfDoinel, # 31. August 2007, 19:44:15

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All shall be revealed on Tuesday.

By Junyor, # 31. August 2007, 19:45:59

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Kestrel looks great, I'm very excited for the fix for slowdowns when getting newsfeeds and email.
However, I'm sad to see that you are disabling the 1/2 keys to switch tabs by default. I'm sure I use these keys hundreds of times a day to quickly fly through the tabs, and think it is a very important feature.

By jmechy, # 31. August 2007, 19:51:00

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@jmechy: It's very easy to re-enable them.

By Junyor, # 31. August 2007, 19:52:26

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Improved spatial navigation
Really looking forward to this.
I just hope its not a minor 'fixy' improvememnt..

By chesss, # 31. August 2007, 19:56:00

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Waiting :-) I am excited.

By DjiXas, # 31. August 2007, 19:56:05

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@Tim

Could you tell me if the following page:
http://files.myopera.com/Fyrd/mb/svgmultiple.html

Generates this:
http://files.myopera.com/Fyrd/mb/output.png

in Kestrel?

I was happy to see it work almost perfectly on the Wii Opera (although for some reason the top and bottom borders didn't work), so I'm hoping it will.

If so, SVG background could provide an alternative way of creating multiple backgrounds as well as rounded corners.

By Fyrd, # 31. August 2007, 19:59:35

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@Fyrd: You can test it yourself on Tuesday.

By Junyor, # 31. August 2007, 20:05:31

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So... the official fix for Google services is finally coming from Opera? Have you notified Google about this? Does it mean Google docs will work fine or Gmail chat will behave properly?

By AleksOD, # 31. August 2007, 20:07:24

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Can anyone confirm that Yahoo Search Marketing works with Opera 9.5 now?

By DjiXas, # 31. August 2007, 20:08:33

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Was afraid you'd say that. Thanks anyway. :smile:

One of my reasons for posting that was to give Captain Stifu some hope for a rounded corners alternative.

By Fyrd, # 31. August 2007, 20:10:17

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"We're releasing 64-bit builds for the first time, so Opera will work on 64-bit FreeBSD and Linux systems without work-arounds."

Yay! :smile:

By AdrianTM, # 31. August 2007, 20:14:50

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Wow thats great news just what ive been waiting for great work dev's :D

By Guyver, # 31. August 2007, 20:15:07

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Focus Areas during Kestrel Development...
thank you for the update

By Galileo, # 31. August 2007, 20:16:36

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thanks for the additional informations, Opera is back :headbang:

By Doliprane, # 31. August 2007, 20:20:07

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I really apreciate that information about the way you develop Kestrel, the post says a lot about things we must expect and what not. It avoids us from talking about off-toppic issues next Tuesday.
If you need more that Tuesday 4/sept...I'll understand :D

But don't release that alpha in October please !

By andresruiz, # 31. August 2007, 20:21:15

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Not a single word about linux-integration. As usual it's a windows/mac.

:frown:

By Aphenitry, # 31. August 2007, 20:25:59

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"One of my reasons for posting that was to give Captain Stifu some hope for a rounded corners alternative."

However, this SVG thing doesn't work with Firefox or Safari... while rounded corners do. So there'll still be no nice way to have rounded corners for every (good) browser.
I guess I'll just have to wait for browsers to get better. p:

By Captain Stifu, # 31. August 2007, 20:27:18

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@Captain Stifu: You could use the SVGs as background images in Opera and border-radius in Firefox and Safari....

By Junyor, # 31. August 2007, 20:36:05

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Im looking for linux improvements too. ^^
Your post made my day Junyor, cant wait for Kestrel even more now!

See you tuesday P:

By Hypezor, # 31. August 2007, 20:40:06

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Junyor: Yeah, why not, if it gives basically the same result... That's just a little bit hacky, that's what I meant by no "nice" way to do it.

By Captain Stifu, # 31. August 2007, 20:41:46

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Some site compatibility issues can be solved by adding new functionality. That's why Kestrel includes support for things like the "overflow-x" and "overflow-y" CSS properties, JavaScript Getters and Setters, and line-/block-breaking in rich text editors. We've also fixed problems seen at Google's sites, in the default WordPress template, and in various JavaScript libraries. Opera is a web browser, after all, and Kestrel can handle more sites, better and faster than ever before.
Excellent! :cheers:

By Darken, # 31. August 2007, 20:51:09

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What about forms auto-completation?

By erickdeoliveiraleal, # 31. August 2007, 20:51:32

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Originally posted by Junyor:

Many users have complained about freezes when Opera Mail is checking for new mail or newsfeeds. These problems are largely gone.


that sounds great !

By lamarca, # 31. August 2007, 20:58:37

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Kestrel sets a new standard like other Opera versions before.

Many of the advanced functions created by Opera in the past are essentially today, other browser manufacturer copied them
(Mozilla Firefox, ... and as LAST -> M$ Internet Explorer)

Opera is getting the absolute TECHNOLOGY LEAD back!

By masterofopera, # 31. August 2007, 21:02:03

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Boo you for disabling 1/2 shortcuts by default.

I know lot of people who refused to upgrade Opera for speed decrease reasons comparing to Opera 9 against 7/8. So i hope Kestrel will be really faster!

By Zybex, # 31. August 2007, 21:06:25

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Yea! I've been looking forward to Kestrel.

One question, will it work with yahoo mail Beta??

By bobwonderful, # 31. August 2007, 21:11:59

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Originally posted by Zybex:

Boo you for disabling 1/2 shortcuts by default.
:yes:

Originally posted by Junyor:

It's very easy to re-enable them.
Do you mean that with one click old Opera users can bring old keyboard shortcuts back? If so, this is acceptable, if not - too bad for old-staing but non-advanced users, who used to use some hot-keys, but unable to change them manually one by one.

By FataL, # 31. August 2007, 21:13:21

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Originally posted by Junyor:

You could use the SVGs as background images in Opera and border-radius in Firefox and Safari....
That will be the case if only Kestrel would support multiple backgrounds... :wink:

By FataL, # 31. August 2007, 21:22:49

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@Fatal: You'll see. And yes, it would require mulitple backgrounds, so it won't work in Kestrel afterall.

By Junyor, # 31. August 2007, 21:25:25

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Sounds like teh awesome! I Already see the Mozilla developers trembling with frustration, trying to figure out how to catch back up. P:

(no offense to ff/mozilla fans, just REALLY excited!)

By Chase-san, # 31. August 2007, 21:26:53

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A re-write of operapluginwrapper 'maybe'? Opera's support for plugins on GNU/Linux systems is 'somewhat iffy'.

Any work-around for Flash causing a seg-fault when a tab w/ active Flash is closed?

By rwf, # 31. August 2007, 21:33:08

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Looking forward to the Mail upgrades!

By GreyWyvern, # 31. August 2007, 21:44:11

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Wow, nice load of info there. I am really happy with Opera as a web browser, I rarely find a site that does not work.

My mail experience is a complete opposite, I am desperate to get my hands on 9.5 for the mail/news/rss improvements. I am happy to see Opera focusing on getting existing features upto spec.

By mgillespie, # 31. August 2007, 21:47:21

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Hi Tim,

this is very good news! We've exchanged over M2's problems with IMAP and so I'm very excited. One question: this is going to be an alpha release. Does that mean that we shouldn't connect to important mailboxes while testing?

Having just submitted a bug regarding SVG: how does the new version print large SVG images? Opera already rocks when it comes to SVG: no other viewer comes close to its rendering speed.

One final thing. A wonderful article by Hâkon about Opera and webfonts and well worth publishing here:
http://www.alistapart.com/articles/cssatten
If you want people to see your content in beautiful fonts get them to install Opera. They don't have to wait for Kestrel!

By Charlie_X, # 31. August 2007, 21:59:45

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