Opera LogoOpera started off the morning by pleasing a lot of people! They broke the news that work on Opera 9.5 is almost to the point where they can begin releasing weekly builds to the public. They were a little light when it came to what new features would be included, but you can surely expect to see great things coming from their developers. Here’s what they did say:

  • Improved CSS3 support (including text-shadow)
  • Superior SVG support
  • New javascript engine with support for ECMAScript 4 ’getters’ and ’setters’.
  • Several usability improvements that make the popular features easier to access, and more consistent with other browsers. The changes made are based on the feedback received from the users.
  • Screen reader support, which is typically used by the visually impaired to have websites read back to them.
  • Improved keyboard navigation and more consistent keyboard shortcuts
  • Mac users will get a new visual look and feel
  • Many speed improvements which result in faster page loading and a more responsive interface.

Improved CSS3 support is sure to be a hit with developers, and as you can see in the screenshot (from the Desktop Team) Opera 9.5 passes the CSS Selector Test (definition) with flying colors:

Opera 9.5

The benefits of CSS3 compatibility won’t necessarily be apparent for awhile until other browsers also start to support many of the CSS3 features. I did, however, decide to test other browsers with the CSS Selector test to see how they stacked up, and to no surprise IE7 earned last place:

  • Opera 9.5: Passes 578 out of 578 tests
  • Firefox 3 Nightly: Passes 369 out of 578 tests
  • Firefox 2: Passes 357 out of 578 tests
  • Opera 9.2: Passes 346 out of 578 tests
  • Internet Explorer 7: Passes 330 out of 578 tests

And did you notice the "Censored" part of the screenshot? That is apparently some new feature that they felt the need to hide from us. Guesses are running rampant over on the Desktop Team Blog as to what this feature is, but it seems like many are expecting a dock for the widgets. I agree because being able to click on an icon to pull up a widget would simply be awesome.

Aside from that I heard one guess that really struck me as interesting: virtual windows for the browser. It would kind of be like virtual desktops on Linux except it would only manage your browser windows. This would actually be cool because I could organize my tabs into virtual windows so that my tab bar wasn’t always so cluttered.

I’ll be sure to post when Opera 9.5 hits the shelves for testers, so keep an eye out for it!