Johan Borg, the Desktop Team Manager at Opera, has just recently announced the code names for the current and future versions of the desktop Opera browser. Most people will be familiar with Merlin (Opera 9) and a few people will have heard the name Peregrine (Opera 10), but Kestrel (Opera 9.5) was largely unknown outside Opera.
The first time I found out about the actual meanings of the names was late last year when we had a seminar in a Norwegian log cabin. I asked Johan who came up with the codenames as I thought it was hard to make them any more geeky. After all Merlin is a magician in King Arthur and Peregrine is a Took from Lord of the Rings right? I wonder if it was just me that thought that. Johan said that it was him that came up with them and they were actually types of falcons. It turns out there is much more to the names they are also names of WW2 Rolls Royce engines, for planes such as the Spitfire and Hurricane. Knowing the meaning breathes new life into the names and I think they fit much better.
Birds of prey are very suitable codenames names for Opera. They give a personality that I think the Opera O lacks. I remember way back at @media, Cindy Li of AOL mentioned that she'd done an illustration of all the browser vendors getting along, but didn't include Opera as she couldn't think of any way to personalise us in the image. The falcons do this, but also have many attributes that Opera shares with both the birds and the engines.
- Speed. Birds of prey are very fast, especially the Peregrine Falcon, which is the fastest creature on the planet. The Opera engine is also incredibly fast -- powering probably the fastest desktop browser available.
- Size. In order to fly at high speeds falcons have to be fairly small and light weight, with a low body fat ratio. One of the reasons Opera is so fast and works on many small devices is its compact efficient engine.
- Eye sight. Birds of prey have incredibly good eye sight, as you may have guessed by the term eagle eyed. This allows them to spot prey from great distances. Opera has best in class zoom features enabling people with less than great eye sight to be able to read pages, or people far from the screen, such as when using the browser as part of a media centre.
- Strength. Falcons have to be strong for their size to be able to combat their prey. The falcon series of engines powered some of the greatest fighter planes of all time, that created a defensive shield that protected great Britain to great effect in the Battle of Britain, and many other conflicts. Opera's great security record and measures to protect user security make a safer browsing environment.
As Johan mentioned, Kestrel will include rendering improvements from Peregrine, so you may not have to wait as long to see the CSS3 advancements I've been playing with on this blog, but nothing has been confirmed in which release all features will be added. As the Peregrine Falcon is the fastest creature on the planet, I'm looking forward to seeing if performance enhancements can be found to speed up the browser any further. With a lot of talk about Opera on mobiles and devices, the desktop browser is sometimes overlooked, but it has a very exciting future and is progressing at a impressive rate.