I must admit, after trying the first public preview of Opera 15, I was pretty underwhelmed. It felt like a Google Chrome clone with Opera logo on top of it, but then it got me thinking… Is there more to it?
With the release of Opera 15, Norwegian browser maker has decided to completely reboot the project. Some could argue that its years too late but slow progress is better than no progress, right?
So why do it at all? Let’s face it, Opera was (almost) always bad at rendering web pages. You can blame user agent sniffing, developers or your mom but that won’t fix the issue. We’ve been playing the blame game for how many years now? And that’s excluding awful scrolling performance, buggy WebGL implementation, broken out of process plugins and so on.
The foundation is old, rendering engine is a trainwreck and the whole Opera architecture currently looks like this:
So what is Opera 15? Opera 15 is management’s way of saying that they have had enough. Untangling the mess that Opera 12 is would require so many resources and so much time that’s it’s easier just to start from scratch and that’s exactly what they did. What we got is a solid foundation that looks like this:
Thanks to Blink / WebKit rendering engine integration, Opera has just eliminated its Achilles’ heel: web page compatibility. With Google and Apple behind our back, there is no way that we will ever experience same issues that Opera 7-12 users had.
But wait, there is more. Since Opera developers no longer have to spend so much time patching individual web sites and fixing broken architecture, resources can be shifted to adding new features and overall polishing. This also means faster release cycles and quicker implementations of new web technologies.
Basically, Opera has decided to go with a plan that inflicts pain in the short term yet provides great benefits in the long term.
Sure, it lacks tons of features with questionable new implementations (such as getting rid of bookmarks and using 3rd party extensions for RSS feeds) but we hope that Opera will listen to its community and add features that made us love Opera in the first place. Hint: it’s not a giant Speed Dial search bar that can’t be removed.
As I wrote in a previous post, “Project reboots are hard and require tons of resources (just look at the Windows Phone 8, which still lacks basics that were introduced 10 years ago in Windows Mobile like VPN support, separate volume controls, etc.)“ so keep that in mind. There is a saying that goes like this, “Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet” and that’s exactly what we need, a little bit of patience. On the other hand, there is another saying, “Abused patience turns to fury”, and this is something that Opera should keep in mind, you don’t want to piss your most dedicated fans off, especially when your overall market share is so low.
TL;DR: For Opera 15, Opera has built an entirely new and expansive foundation. They then proceeded to build a small house on top of it. Over time, Opera intends to extend your house and eventually replace it with a skyscraper, which the older foundation couldn’t have supported.
So hop on for a ride, it’s going to be a good one.
About (Author Profile)
Vygantas is a former web designer whose projects are used by companies such as AMD, NVIDIA and departed Westood Studios. Being passionate about software, Vygantas began his journalism career back in 2007 when he founded FavBrowser.com. Having said that, he is also an adrenaline junkie who enjoys good books, fitness activities and Forex trading.