Meet your new address field, mouse gestures, and updated mail panel and extensions

November 17th, 2010

As preparations for the upcoming beta of Opera 11 we are exclusively giving you two new features and several mail enhancements today.

A safer address field

The address field in the browser is an extremely important feature. It’s the key to how you navigate, search and to keep you safe on the web. For Opera 11, we want to bring it to the next level, making it less crowded and helping you be more focused on the most important tasks. Before looking at it, please first note that the new address field is intended as a help for the vast majority of users who think they are on Google when on, and others who don’t automatically parse URL strings without conscious effort. The technical audience of Opera might understand query strings, but, in most cases, they are just gibberish to the user.

While a server might do it another way, the solution attempted is to show the parts which are most likely to tell users where they are.

Opera’s new address field features

  • All web pages get a badge to the left of the address field. The badge replaces protocols like HTTP, HTTPS and opera: which are shown only when focusing on the address field.
  • Clicking on the badge provides an easy overview of the potentially more complex security state of the current web page.
  • Parameters at the end of the web, addresses are visually hidden when the address field is not focused. (You can disable this with opera:config#UserPrefs|HideURLParameter if you still want to see the whole address all the time.)
  • And lastly, there is a badge for browsing with Opera Turbo on. Clicking on this gives, for example, information about estimated data savings for the Opera Turbo session.

Visual mouse gestures

Many of you know of and love the ability to control the browser by doing small and fast gestures with your mouse. Mouse gestures is another genuine Opera innovation that was first introduced in Opera 5.1 in April 2001. Ten years later it is about to time to give it a massive face-lift. Our focus has been two-fold. First, we want more people to discover the basics of this extremely nice and sticky feature. Second, we want people to learn more mouse gestures than just the simple back and forward. To use the visual guide to mouse gestures, simply long press the right mouse button. But those who don’t already use mouse gestures in Opera should be aware of one thing before they test this out: This is addictive stuff!

A nice mail update

The mail team has also prepared some nice changes for you! We listened to your feedback and changed from multiple scrollbars to one global scrollbar for the mail panel. The scrollbar keeps section headers on the top which allows you to quickly scroll back up to them.

We have merged the old filters, labels and saved searches into the new more powerful labels. We consolidated all mail search fields into one, which enables you to search wherever you want, with the help of a new toolbar that appears when searching. If you want you can save this search as a rule that will automatically label all the matching messages. You can set a custom icon on your new label in the label dialog, but the label dialog is going to undertake some changes soon.

We also did some improvements when it comes to the mail startup speed, mail skin fixes for Windows and Mac, some HTML compose related and other bug fixes.

Updates to extensions

We have also done a lot of work on extensions. They will now run on secure sites (HTTPS) by default, and we have added a privacy setting where you can allow/disallow extensions to run on secure connections or in privacy mode (disabled by default).

In addition to that, we now allow extensions to have a preferences page. Both the options page and privacy settings can be accessed from the extensions manager.

You should also be aware of some changes to requirements that will affect currently available extensions:

  • Extensions must include an access request for the pages you want to access with the background-process. You can do this by adding <access origin=””> to the config.xml
  • Extensions must include an index.html file in the package or include a <content src=”someStartFile.html”/> in the config.xml.
  • Extensions must use broadcastMessage() properly: broadcastMessage() only takes one argument: a string or an object literal: so either broadcastMessage(“hi”) or broadcastMessage({‘say’: ‘hi’ }

This means that some extensions authors will have to update their extensions.

WARNING: This is an awesome development snapshot: It contains the latest incredible changes, but may also have severe known issues, including crashes and data loss situations. In fact, it may not work at all.