XML News from Friday, July 8, 2005

Opera Software has posted the first beta of version 8.0.2 of their namesake $39 payware web browser for Windows, Linux, and the Mac. The major new feature in this beta is Bit Torrent support. As usual Opera is marching to its own drummer. Now that they've done it, BitTorrent support in the browser seems almost obvious; but they're first out of the gate. However, they still haven't implemented some basic features everyone else has, most notably XSLT. It feels reminiscent of the old Mac word processor Nisus Writer. Half the time you felt like you were using your grandkids' word processor and the other half the time you felt like you were using your grandfather's. There's something to be said for clearing new territory instead of replowing the same old fields. However, in my experience failing to implement the core features of the market leader dooms one to being a niche player. There were users who swore by (and at) Nisus Writer, but most authors, myself included, just couldn't get past the lack of features we'd grown accustomed to in Word, WordPerfect, and other more conventional products. We liked Nisus's macro language, non-contiguous selection, regular expressions, Unicode support, and other features the market leaders wouldn't add for years to come. But we just could never quite get over the features we missed from Word. For me, outline mode was the killer. Opera feels similar. It's really, really nice; and really stabds out from the crowd in so many ways. But damn it, I just can't stomach a browser that won't do XSLT so I stay with Firefox.