Hi! Today we're launching a new version of My Opera. We have a new fresh look, 1GB of free space, localized interface in 7 languages (and more coming soon), a friends activity feed, an API for embedding My Opera photos on other sites, slideshows for the photo albums and much more.
This time we also had a bit of beta testing along the way. Special thanks to dantesoft, Tamil, thobi, rose-marie, sgunhouse, remcolanting, coxy, BAMAToNE, WillYum and Ramunas for helping out.
As the lead My Opera designer I wanted to give the new site a strong visual identity with that special Opera feeling. The goal was to make a simple and functional design that highligted the content rather than just beeing decorative. I also wanted to simplify the site and make it easier to access features such as Opera Link. The new design is also made to fit well with the upcoming launch of our new Opera.com site.
For those of you that write your own blog CSS, you might want to read about the HTML changes.
The new My Opera features many optimizations for mobiles and there's even a function where you can view the mobile optimized version by clicking a button at the bottom of each page. We hope that this will inspire those of you who have not yet tried out Opera's excellent mobile browsers!
If you are already using a mobile to browse My Opera you might notice that you will, in most cases, get the mobile optimized version by default. If you want the full version you can switch to it by clicking the button in the footer, but we recommend using the optimized version as it's not just mobile friendly CSS but also smaller images and less code to make it faster.
One of the main features of the new site is localization. I'll let our lead developer Cosimo say a few words about that:
We started working on localizing My Opera around March this year. Initially this was thought to be
impossible very hard with the existing architecture, but we tried to build the internationalization engine to be as simple and standard as possible, planning and documenting even the limitations. It's based on gettext and PO files. We even worked ourselves on the translations, and of course the italian is mine. So you can complain to me for that one
In the long-term this has been a fairly good choice. In the meantime we also refined our internal tools. One is a command line application that converts the PO files that translators hand us into some ready-to-use code that is loaded at runtime by the application servers.
The integration with our templating engine has been a bit tricky, but now it works whatever templating system we will choose in the future. The most exciting thing about the I18N "layer" has been when I first saw My Opera translated in Japanese and Chinese. Really exciting!
We have made a lot of front-end and back-end improvements to speed up the site and increase scalability. Cosimo:
Work on application code and backends has been frantic in the last months. Some of the improvements that we have introduced are:
- the skins section is much faster now, because all skin thumbnails are served statically using our new static.myopera.com server.
- we have a full-page cache now, so many of the most used My Opera pages are served statically now, with a fine-grained control of how/when a request can be cached. Basically we took the ~20 most used pages and we cached them completely. Then we update those cached version every now and then...
We know there's still a lot to do. We will concentrate on improving the database performance to avoid proxy errors. Specially since some of the new features (activities feed, etc) will stress the database even more!
We have good idea of what is failing and why, thanks to a cool ajax monitoring application we wrote in our "spare" time. If you are interested in our scalability challenges and how we plan to solve them, take a look at a talk I gave at the last Perl Workshop in Italy. It's slightly outdated, but you can get the basic ideas.
Another important goal for the new My Opera was to increase activity and make it easier for you to communicate with your friends and follow their activities on the site. One of the main features for this is the friends feed. The feed is activated when you and your friend have both added each other as friends on My Opera. It does not activate if it's just a one way friendship.
We hope that you like the new My Opera. It might be a bit shaky the first few days, as we have released a lot of new code, but we are sure it will be great. A lot of work has gone into this release and we see this as a good platform to build on.
Finally, a big thanks to the entire My Opera team and all of you My Opera members that make this a great community!