Opera 12.10 beta brings new APIs for extension developers

The new version of the browser adds the SPDY standard for faster webpage downloads and offers support for Windows 8 touch and the Mac's Retina Display. But the really intriguing changes are under the hood.
Written by David Meyer, Contributor

Opera has released a new beta version of its browser, adding the speedy SPDY network standard to the mix and promising developers many new options for creating extensions.

The Opera 12.10 beta, released on Tuesday, comes with three new application programming interfaces (APIs) for context menus, screenshots and resource-loading. The addition of SPDY should see some pages such as Gmail load faster than before.

Opera 12.10
Opera 12.10 comes with three new APIs and SPDY support. Image: Opera

Opera 12.10 also takes advantage of advances in both the Windows and Mac OS X operating systems. For Mountain Lion, the new Opera supports the Retina Display and notification centre, as well as social content-sharing. The updated browser also adds touch support for the upcoming Windows 8 and existing touch-capable Windows 7 machines.

"During the planning of Opera 12.10 we listened to the web developers," Opera desktop chief Krystian Kolondra said in a statement. "The web developer community is thriving like never before and we want to support that in every way we can. With the new APIs, developers are better suited than ever to create extensions that give users of Opera for desktop a unique browsing experience."

Rich extensions and more standards

Context menus are the menus that are brought up with a right-click. The new API will let developers make their browser extensions work with these menus, so that users can highlight text and, for example, see it translated using the extension.

The Screenshot API lets developers add screen-grab functionality into their extensions, and the Resource Loader API allows extensions to manipulate the functionality and design of webpages — this would make it possible to "execute advanced JavaScript right inside webpages", Opera said in a statement.

Version 12.10 of Opera also implements recent HTML5 web standards such as the Fullscreen API and Page Visibility API, and has the latest WebSockets implementation turned on by default.

SPDY is a relatively new network standard that works alongside the HTTP protocol to enable faster page downloads. Faster downloads have always been a priority for Opera, whose Turbo technology helps through the use of compression, but SPDY adds extra speed by organising the sub-resources within a page so that only one connection per client is necessary.

Firefox has used SPDY since June and Chrome has supported it since last year, but it is now a feature of Opera as well. "In Opera 12.10, SPDY is turned on by default and works with webpages that support the standard," the Norwegian browser firm said, noting that Twitter and Gmail are among such sites.

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