Opera launches first open-source project

The browser maker has moved the Dragonfly debugging toolkit to publicly hosted servers, setting up the BSD-licensed software as an open project
Written by Richard Thurston, Contributor

Opera has launched its first fully open-source project by moving the Dragonfly debugging toolkit onto the BitBucket hosting service.

Released from the start under an open-source BSD licence, the plan for Dragonfly was always to make it Opera's first open-source project, the company said. Until the shift to BitBucket, however, it been hosted on Opera's servers.

"Dragonfly was open source, but now there is a proper project around it," David Storey, product manager for Dragonfly, told ZDNet UK on Monday. "The code is now held on an external server at Bitbucket.org." Storey revealed the move in a blog post earlier in February.

Dragonfly consists of tools such as a DOM, CSS and network inspector, a Javascript debugger and an error console. It is distributed with the Opera desktop browser, versions 9.5 and later.

Opera has done considerable work on Dragonfly and has rewritten the code, Storey said in his blog post.

"The focus of the current release of Opera Dragonfly was stability and performance. As such you will not see a great deal of new features. We believe it was invaluable to build a strong foundation," he said.

The previous architecture has been replaced with a modern version of Opera's Scope protocol, called STP-1, which improves communication between Dragonfly and the browser. Opera has rewritten Dragonfly to use the new version of Scope, which the company claims is faster and more efficient.

"Now that we believe that the underlying protocol is stable and performant, and a public desktop build has been released with this included, it is time to put Opera Dragonfly on a public Mercurial repository," Storey wrote. Mercurial is a revision control tool for software developers.

The Dragonfly toolkit can debug any client that runs the Scope protocol, meaning mobile phones and TVs can be debugged from the desktop without using an emulator. It is similar to Mozilla's Firebug debug tool.

Storey cautioned developers that Opera still needs to make some adjustments to the world of open source.

"This is Opera's first fully open-source project, so there will be a learning curve. Coming from a closed-source background, there are some hurdles to overcome, such as the comment bug-tracking system being on a closed server. We hope to migrate to an open bug-tracking system as the project gets on its feet," the product manager wrote in his blog.

Dragonfly runs only in Opera, but Storey said the company has plans to standardise it to work with other browsers. "Our vision is that we want all content to be able to be viewed on any browser," he said.

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