The next version of Opera will be wearing a new face of sorts, it will have Google Chromium at its core. Opera has adopted Google’s Chromium project, the open source version of their proprietary browser Google Chrome, to be the nucleus of all future versions of the popular browser. The new version, aptly named Opera Next (or Opera 15), is already available for perusal (http://www.opera.com/developer/next). Although available, this version is still under development, so don’t expect to wowed if you are a Google Chrome user as it still rides like plain old Chromium. With updates promised on a bi-weekly basis, it is still uncertain whether legacy users will feel at home using the new version of browser.
Under perpetual development at this stage, Opera’s legacy features are regularly being integrated. So far, Opera’s unique Internet compression system (renamed from Turbo to Off-Road mode), has been integrated thus providing a faster Internet experience when your connection slows down. Opera Link, Opera’s bookmarking system, isn’t integrated as of the time of this writing which forces users of the new version to use the web interface while still under development. Opera Speed Dial, however, has a new face that has three new states that the old version didn’t have before; one of which allows you to ‘stash’ links you come across instead of bookmarking them (for now at least). The legacy Opera Mail feature has been broken off into a new separate application ( http://www.opera.com/computer/mail ), which contains all of the legacy mail operations and features.
What does this mean for legacy add-on developers? The new core means studying how Chrome extensions are built. Opera Next will run two kinds of extensions: a limited subset of Google’s .crx extensions and Opera’s Navigator Extensions (.nex). Opera’s extension developer documentation has already been updated (http://dev.opera.com/extension-docs/index.html) for the next version. Once you take a gander at the documentation you’ll realize that most of the API is derived from Chrome’s. There are, however, large differences that should be noted. For instance, my post on Google Chrome context menu development will also apply to Opera Next context menu development – but anything I wrote concerning Omnibox extension development will not work for Opera Next as Opera Next does not have an Omnibox API yet (and may never have one). Opera Next uses only a subset of Chrome’s API which will most likely be expanded upon by the Opera team in the form of the opr prefix.
Little by little the new version of Opera is taking on a new personality that may or may not become popular with legacy users. Only time and good development will tell. In my opinion – so far so good.