by December 2, 2010 0 comments

Shikhar Mohan Gupta

Latest versions of browsers are hitting the market like dew drops in a cold November morning. These browsers bring a lot of schematic changes apart from all the cosmetic changes to the end-user. We went ahead and had a detailed look at the latest version from Opera Software’s stable-Opera 11 which was still in its alpha release at the time of writing this article.
Opera 11 comes with a host of improvements, most notable of which is support for extensions. This feature allows you to easily add new functionality to your Opera browser. Developers can create extensions using open standards like HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript, along with supported APIs. So when you install an extension, it becomes available immediately, just as it is with other browsers like Chrome and Safari, and you don’t have to restart the browser as is the case with Firefox. With Opera 11 alpha running, you can install extensions by just clicking on them.
If you have an extension file stored on your computer, it can also be installed by dragging it on to the Opera window. Unlike Opera Widgets and Opera Unite applications, Extensions allows adding features and functionality directly to the browser. Some extensions have interface elements while others can run exclusively in the background.
The extensions install on the spot from the download link, line up in the upper-right corner of your browser, can be managed and uninstalled from a simple configuration page, and mostly work with the JavaScript and CSS of a page to make modifications.
An option has now been added to have plug-ins such as Flash content load only when they are clicked on. This is especially helpful for speeding up browsing on computers that have difficulty handling lots of plug-in content.
Available for Windows, Mac and Linux, version 11 also comes with a new version of Opera’s layout engine-Presto 2.6.37, which improves performance while also adding hundreds of bug fixes and enhanced Web standards support as well as support for Web sockets and HTML5 server-sent events. Server-sent events allow a server to push notifications and new content to the browser in real time, while Web sockets allows for sophisticated communication within Web applications that can allow rich next-generation Web applications and multiplayer games.

The update also comes with enhancing support for Web standards, improving performance and fixing of hundreds of bugs. There’s also a better mail panel, tweaked bookmarks management, and more support for HTML5 Web features. The new mail panel gives you control over the order in which your accounts and mail items show up. You can also now create folders for organizing your mail and news feeds.

We used an online benchmark called Peacekeeper, designed to test various aspects of a browser: rendering, social networking, complex graphics, text parsing, DOM operations, data (string operations), etc. You can access the benchmark at from the browser that is to be tested. Opera 11 alpha scored a more than impressive 7423 points. This is a major stepup from the earlier versions. None of the browsers compared in the earlier article match up to the performance of the Opera 11. We went ahead and also benchmarked the latest versions of 3 other major browsers. Google Chrome 7.0 still edged out the ­competition with a leading score of 7491. Firefox 4 Beta 6 with a score of 2758 and IE9 beta with 2544 still struggled to match up. This proves to be a major step up for Opera, which has graduated to 2nd from 4th in the performance scale as measured by our benchmark. Chrome 7.0 gave the best results in complex graphics which tests a browser’s ability in rendering complex graphics on a web page. Opera 11 Alpha was the second highest scorer in this test, not too far behind Chrome. Chrome 7.0 was the standout performer in the data test, which tests a browser’s ability to modify data from an array. Opera 11 Alpha was the second highest scorer in this test, but a lot of catching up is still required.

Opera 11 Alpha outperformed the Chrome in the DOM operations benchmark. This test benchmarks a browser’s ability to emulate methods used to create typical dynamic web pages. Opera 11 also won the rendering race in browsers with Chrome lagging behind considerably. This test measures a browser’s ability to render specific HTML elements on typical web pages. Opera 11 also edged out Chrome in the social networking benchmark test. These tests measure typical web page functions,such as loading, sortin g and searching for data on social networking websites. Opera 11 is also a winner in the text parsing test. Chrome managed a second position in this test which measures a browser’s capability in text manipulation conditions.

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