Saturday, 29 October 2011

Opera 12 Alpha + Hardware Acceleration = Fast!

Last week saw the release of Opera 12 Alpha with full hardware acceleration for WebGL graphics.

Opera 12 Alpha can be downloaded from their site over here.

The main benefits being touted include:
  • Faster graphics with hardware acceleration
  • New HTML5 engine
  • Faster browsing with reduced memory usage
  • New themes
  • New address field
  • WebGL support for games 3D content
All in all it's looking good for this release.  To get the most out of Opera 12 Alpha although you will need to have a modern graphics card with up to date drivers.  DirectX support isn't in there yet  but the notes claim this will be available later at some point.

It's a good release for an alpha and it feels smooth and speedy.  I still find that some pages look a little odd sometimes in Opera, and it's something that has happened over the past five or six releases and I have never worked out why.   That might just be me, but I don't think it is.  It's also a bit of a memory snatcher as well, but this is quite typical of an early release.  It's worth a try anyway.

Firefox 7 Released (three weeks ago!)

In a rather delayed post, Firefox 7 has now been released, wooo!  The release comes just six weeks  (yes you read that correctly) after Firefox 6 arrived.  The two major selling points of this release are speed (as ever!) and the memory demand has been reduced by half, which is quite impressive.

Over the past few releases, I have noticed that Firefox has become a bit of a pig for the amount of memory it uses.  Why that is I'm not sure, but anything like this is always a welcome boost.

For web developers, the news gets better.  Navigation timing spec will benchmark your pages which I'm all in favour of as this is something that I've always tried to run to get the best out of the user experience.  More good news comes from the people that make Firefox who claim that this release will be less likely to break your addons.  There is better support for compatibility with your older addons that were download from their own site, however bits from elsewhere may not work as well.

Firefox Silent Updates

Future versions of Mozilla Firefox will shortly be delivering updates to your computer without you even knowing about it, saving users the bother of downloading and installing updates.  Good idea?  Maybe.

Right now, both Firefox and Chrome are seeing frequent updates and if reports are to be believed, Microsoft will be joining that party soon with the development releases of Internet Explorer 10.  The danger is that users are no longer aware of these updates and what benefits they will bring.  Personally, I'm a little bored of minor releases being marked as new version releases which I feel Firefox has been doing as of late.

Notifications are irritating, full stop.  Every time I load Firefox at the moment it tells me that an update is available.  The problem is, I don't want to update.  The last time I did this, it broke all of my addons which is one of the reasons that I use the browser in the first place.  Ironic.  This will also cause problems in large companies where users do not have permission to install updates and then deployment also becomes a problem.  This is why most companies use Internet Explorer which ties in nicely with other Microsoft products so that updates are easily deployed along with security fixes.  Right now, Mozilla say that they are testing a Windows service that will install an optional component that will automate the update install without UAC prompts.  Sorry, but if something changes on my machine, I want to know what is going on.

This is both good and bad, but perhaps they need to start to change the approach that they are taking right now.  The benefits may outweigh the problems.  By taking the rapid release cycle approach, we are constantly moving forward so that we are no longer stuck with older browsers like we had with the IE6 fiasco.  I really am in favour of this as the envelope of web technology is constantly being taken forward.  As long as the way in which pages are rendered doesn't change, this is good with me.  I remember when IE7 was released and many developers complained back then that had to write hacks to get their code to work with IE6.  This can't be allowed to happen again.

So yeah, as you can imagine I'm a little divided!