XML News from Thursday, June 12, 2008

Opera Software has released version 9.5 of their namesake free-beer web browser for Windows, Mac, and Linux, FreeBSD, and Solaris. This release is supposed to be much faster than previously.

I wonder if they've deuglified it yet? Hmm, looks like they tried, but it didn't quite take. They may have hired a real artist to draw the buttons and the icons for the first time, because those are looking good in isolation. However, I'd guess they didn't hire a professional user interface designer to put them all together. The fonts are still wrong (the ones in the UI widgets, that is, not the ones in the web page) and the alignment of various components is way off. This is a frequent problem with cross-platform apps, but Firefox has done a good job with this for years now, so it's certainly possible to get this right. There seem to be multiple other user interface glitches, like a close button (white X on a red background in a widgets pane) that doesn't seem to actually close anything.

Opera may be the fastest browser on the planet, but if it is, I'll never know because it's just too damned ugly to look at for any length of time. Opera should split out the core rendering engine (which isn't bad) from the UI, so someone else can wrap some decent chrome around it. Right now, Opera is like putting a 3900 HF VVT engine in a AMC pacer body and slapping a fresh coat of paint over it.