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Opera 10 alpha unveiled: Fully web compliant, 30% faster

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Opera 10 alpha unveiled: Fully web compliant, 30% faster

Chicago (IL) – Opera today released the first alpha version of its Opera 10 browser. It sports a 30% faster rendering engine, it is fully compliant with standards and integrates updated tools for developers. Opera 10 alpha also adds several new end-user features such as in-line spell check, HTML and plain text email formatting as well as an auto-update mechanism. Opera said that Opera 10 is not yet feature complete.

Opera 10 alpha was released earlier today as a showcase for the new Presto 2.2 rendering engine that now joins the browser speed race, which is currently dominated by Mozilla’s TraceMonkey and Safari’s SquirrelFish Extreme JavaScript engines. The company claims that Presto 2.2 provides “improvements across the board in terms of speed, stability, support for Web standards, and more.” The new engine renders complex JavaScript-intensive web pages up to 30% faster when compared to the Presto engine that powers the current Opera 9.6.

Although speed gain is not as apparent as the progress in Firefox 3.1 Beta or Safari 4 Beta, web applications like Gmail and Facebook subjectively seem to be much faster than in previous Opera version.

Presto 2.2 engine also complies with the latest web standards: The beta version of the engine scored 100/100 in the Acid3 test in March of this year. As of now, only Opera 10’s Presto 2.2 and the updated WebKit rendering engine in Apple’s Safari 4 Beta pass the Acid3 test, which means the two browsers are, as of now, fully web standards compliant browsers. The Acid3 benchmark measures how well a browser adheres to web standards. It may not mean much to end-users, but it certainly makes life easier for web developers who can now rely on the fact that the browser will render a page the way it is meant to be rendered, meaning developers won’t have to waste time adding extra code to tweak rendering quirks in different browsers.

Presto 2.2 now includes support for the latest HTML and CSS standards, such as web fonts that enables web designers to dramatically improve the look of a page by using any font, regardless whether a user has a font installed locally on a computer or not. Also new: Opacity modifications through RGB and HSLA for setting the opacity of any web page element, the selectors API, and improvements in scalable vector graphics (SVG) format support that now includes the support for web fonts in SVG format as well.

You can test new rendering capabilities of the Presto 2.2 engine by running Opera 10 alpha examples page, but you will need to use the Opera 10 alpha software to access the examples.

Developers also unveiled the third update to Dragonfly, part of Opera’s upcoming Developer Tools. Basically a cross-device, cross-platform debugging environment for the Opera browser, Dragonfly lets developers debug JavaScript, inspect and edit CSS and DOM, and view any errors on their mobile or computer. The third alpha release fixes many bugs, and adds support for DOM editing, localization and an enhanced breadcrumb trail. Dragonfly is integrated in Opera 9.5 and above and is accessible via the Tools menu.
 
Opera 10 Alpha also tweaks existing options and introduces several new features to make web browsing faster and more convenient, such as in-line spell check in web forms, auto-update mechanism that reminds users of new browser versions or bug fixes.

Opera noted that the alpha version does not include the full feature set of the shipping version. According to the development schedule, a beta release is planned for early 2009, while the shipping version is expected to be launched later in 2009.

You can download Opera 10 Alpha in Windows, Mac OS X and UNIX (including Linux, FreeBSD, Solaris, etc.) flavors here.