The mad rush to release Opera 10.5: Two months' work in one weekend?

Download Opera 10.5 Release Candidate 4 for Windows from Fileforum now.

Just a handful of weeks ago, the developers of Opera 10.5 were calling their "pre-alpha" build dangerous if used to run a nuclear reactor facility. Over the weekend, in what appears to have been a round-the-clock effort to compress a few months' work into a few days' time, Opera Software ticked through four release candidates of its latest Windows-based Web browser.

The reason, of course, is Microsoft's rollout of its browser choice screen for European users of older versions of Internet Explorer. Some users reported seeing the screen for the first time over the weekend, though the full-scale rollout began in earnest today.

Judging from the fury of messages posted to Opera's developers' site over the past 72 hours, the team has been able to address some of the major bugs reported by testers in the field. Some. But others are complaining that problems continue even with the latest RC4 build posted this morning, including drag-and-drop problems discovered by Betanews last week and verified by others in the field. That somewhat "wonky" behavior persisted for us this morning -- for example, with the problematic Bookmarks tab (where bookmarks are managed in 10.5), we tried dragging a bookmark to the Trash can only to find the entire folder in which that bookmark appeared, was sent there instead.

Betanews isn't alone here; at least one other tester in the field is reporting similar problems as of just this morning.
"Is it not a waste of time to post a new build for every two fixed bugs," reported one tester today. "It is getting to be ridiculous."

One tester with handle mrd disagreed: "Ideally (but in the real world almost never) you want less bug fixes per release, because then it's easier to nut out any regressions caused," he wrote.

For others, it's getting to be quite exciting. Many are expecting an RTM edition to go live sometime today. Some have suggested that it may be more important for Opera to go ahead and call it finished now, and just post hotfixes over the coming days for remaining issues.

Writes Idan Adar, "People need to understand that 10.5 is already a huge step forward from 10.10. People need to understand that at some point a software must get released, despite all issues -- new and old. If any of you guys actually follow these snapshots in this blog, then you also know that a short while after 10.5 is out there will be new snapshots of whatever comes next."

But there appear to be a truckload of those issues, and testers are providing evidence through screenshots.

The slightly tweaked transparent skin of Opera 10.5 RC4 still has problems.

In our own continued tests, with RC4, we noted a few tweaks had been made to the new translucent skin since Beta 2. We also discovered that one of the peculiarities we discovered last week in the layout of the Tab bar when wrapping (multi-row) is turned on -- the creation of an excess gap along the right side -- only occurs on accounts where Windows font magnification is set higher than 100%. At 100% magnification, the trash can icon rests nicely along the right side of the window; but with higher magnification, it gets situated more toward the middle, off by its lonesome.

How Facebook reported the results of the Gold Medal Canada vs. US hockey game, rendered in Firefox 3.6.

Other testers are reporting the following issues: smooth scrolling that isn't smooth anymore; improper rendering of Chinese characters, with spaces between each one; some HTML5 videos not playing in the browser while others will; the drop-down list from the address bar occasionally showing up with a transparent backdrop (rendering the opaque contents illegible); and CSS objects that don't line up properly, such as in the test you're seeing here. Pictured above is how Facebook reported the results of Sunday afternoon's classic Canada vs. US men's Olympic hockey game, as rendered in Mozilla Firefox 3.6 (stable version).

The same hockey results rendered by Opera 10.5 RC4.

And here is how Opera 10.5 RC4 renders the same page. Note the contents of the table in the middle overlap their boundaries, that the Facebook logo in the table at right is completely obscured, and also that the Medal Count box in the upper right corner appears completely empty. If you look very closely, the contents that should be in that box appear below it instead, peeking out from in-between the borders of the sporting event category buttons.

For some, sites with streaming content fail to load entirely, such as
Early Betanews tests this morning revealed that with the recent bug fixes, Opera 10.5's performance took a hit. We also found evidence that Opera wasn't the only company with developers working overtime: Google has turned the burners on high for Chrome 5. As a result, what was a three-point gap on our Windows 7 performance index has now been cut to less than one point: a 20.70 overall score for Opera versus 19.88 for Chrome 5 dev build 335.1. Chrome leads over Opera, either slightly or substantially, in all the computational tests; it's in graphics and rendering where Opera holds a little bit of an edge. It lost its edge in table rendering to Chrome 5 this morning.

Long-time Opera users are excited to see their favorite product back in the hunt for browser supremacy, and there's no doubt that this hunt has improved the product significantly. But the rough edges will be the first edges that newcomers to Opera see this week -- folks who haven't even heard of Opera Software, will be trying it for the first time. Those hotfixes, if they're in the works, had better come quickly.

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