Today we have a very interesting update to our developer channel, with almost 150 fixes and improvements and an update to Chromium (42.0.2305.3). The three major changes in this build are support for new sidebar extensions, updates to Speed Dial and keyboard shortcut customization.
Our new sidebar
What are sidebar extensions?
As the name suggests, sidebar extensions are extensions which can be installed into our new sidebar. The sidebar can be enabled via the menu or a keyboard shortcut:
- Opera menu → Extensions → Sidebar (Ctrl+⇧Shift+s)
- View → Show sidebar (⌘⇧s)
On the left hand side of the sidebar, you have an icons list associated with the sidebar extensions. Clicking on an icon will open the extension in a panel on the right hand side.
Here are a few sample sidebar extensions for you to try out and to get a feel for what is possible:
- Browse++ Sidebar (search open tabs, reopen closed tabs, make notes!)
- Hackernews Sidebar (keep up to date with Hackernews)
- Techmeme Sidebar (displays Techmeme in a panel)
- TollSjekk (calculate private imports to Norway)
For Extension Authors
We’ve purposely based sidebar extensions on the browserAction API, so that it is easy to understand and easy to convert existing extensions which use the browserAction API to a sidebar extension. Sidebar extensions have access to all the different extension APIs that browserAction extensions do. Please go ahead and read the documentation for sidebar extensions for detailed information on the API.
When creating sidebar extensions, please keep in mind that they are better suited to use-cases not tied to one particular website—the extension should work almost like a standalone app (adjusting and responding to the current webpage if required).
In addition to our official developer relations documentation, Daniel (from the desktop team) has written his own guide to quickly making sidebar extensions. Using it, you can convert your (or others’) webapps to sidebar extensions. The guide links to a nice little template (on GitHub). Tweak one file, add your own icons, zip it and ship it.
Go ahead and create a sidebar extension for a number of interesting cases – let your imagination fly!
Speed Dial improvements
Speed Dial has undergone a lot of work of lately, with some visual changes and integration with bookmarks. Your Speed Dial is now a folder within bookmarks, resulting in various improvements:
- Your Speed Dial on one device is now accessible from any of your other devices (via bookmark synchronization)
- Speed Dial thumbnails can be changed via the “Heart menu”
- Speed Dial entries on any device can be managed via the bookmark manager (drag and drop entries between Speed Dial and your other folders)
Of course, we understand that Speed Dial is a little different from bookmarks, as it also serves as the new tab page. Depending on your device and location (e.g., home versus work), you may want to display different links on this prime real estate. Hence the default Speed Dial is specific to the device, but you can easily access your other Speed Dials via an entry in the bookmark manager.
Customizable keyboard shortcuts
Last but not least, we have added the ability to customize your keyboard shortcuts. Don’t need Opera help on a daily basis? Don’t waste that F1 key, recycle it as “Reopen last closed tab” or any other action you find yourself doing regularly!
Customize your keyboard shortcuts via:
- Opera menu → Settings (Alt+p) → Browser → Shortcuts → Configure Shortcuts
- Application menu → Preferences (⌘,) → Browser → Shortcuts → Configure Shortcuts
- Avoid remapping shortcuts that are commonly used for editing text areas (e.g. Ctrl+z)
- Avoid assigning single characters (a-z, 0-9) to “basic” keyboard shortcuts
Doing either of the above may have unintended consequences because the context (or focus) is not considered when the shortcut is triggered.
Thoughts and feedback
All of these features are work in progress and subject to change. Please let us know what you think (what works, what doesn’t) and if you find any major bugs.
And finally, enjoy the weekend!
- Speed Dial entries may initially show domain text (reload to work around)
- Heart menu and bookmarks manager may show blank until you restart once
- Mac may occasionally crash on exit
- Keyboard focus is not placed in the sidebar panel when it is opened
- The previously shown panel is not displayed if you reopen the sidebar
- The default keyboard shortcuts for enabling the sidebar may change
- No menu item to enable the sidebar under Unity on Linux