Extensions raise the volume in Opera 11

Opera doesn't have much to say about what's coming in its next version, but the one new feature mentioned is already available to play with in a rough format: Extensions debut in the Opera 11 alpha, out now.

Opera, the longtime underdog browser favorite, released a rough alpha version of its next-generation browser today.

Opera 11 alpha for Windows, Mac, and Linux is notable at this point for bringing extensions to the closed-source browser, a feature not in earlier versions of Opera that has been a key selling point for Google Chrome. Extensions, which add extra functions to browsers, have recently come to Apple Safari, too.

Extensions come to Opera 11, currently available in a rough alpha version.

Extensions come to Opera 11, currently available in a rough alpha version.

(Credit: Opera)

Opera 11 alpha's extensions are also a further indication of the standardization of extension coding. WebKit-based Chrome and Safari use extension formats that are nearly-identical combinations of JavaScript, HTML5, and CSS, and Mozilla's new JetPack framework promises to introduce the formula to Firefox, too. Plug-ins for Internet Explorer 9 beta use a proprietary add-on system, as does Mozilla's older open-source format. Standardizing add-on coding could easily lead to significantly less work for extension publishers

Given that Opera has long offered a synchronization service called Opera Link, it wouldn't be surprising to see Opera 11 incorporate extension synchronization before the upgrade is finished. Another new feature in Opera 11 is a new open API for Opera Link that has been provided to developers to further the uses of the synchronization service.

The company also provided for developers guidelines for writing extensions and a Web site for uploading completed extensions.

Opera promised in a press release that the company will check all extensions to ensure that malware and defects don't creep in. This is a similar claim to those made by other browser publishers that support add-ons, although there has been malware that occasionally slips through.

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