Towards a Better Version of Opera Composer

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In case you didn't know, Opera Composer has just been relaunched for Opera 8, so that if you are an ISP or company, you can distribute your own customised version of Opera. Basically it's a way for companies to provide their own skin for Opera, since that's the part of the process that allows for the most customisation. So you can have your own company's graphics showing up etc. If only to remind them that Big Brother sees all smurfing :).

Other fun things include the ability to activate the personal bar by default, and add certain links/urls to it. You could even provide your own custom bookmarks file, though for some reason that doesn't include an option to turn on the personal bar. Most fun of all, you can even rebrand the browser, such that people could now be going around smurfing with their own customised browser.

I suppose the point of Composer is more towards showing off what Opera can do rather than a be all and end all tool for companies. I'd assume that if your company wanted to populate its thousands of seats with Opera, Opera would step and customise it up the ying yang for you. So they're offering a limited version of what can be customised for the benefit of the small to medium sized business, that still likes to do things themselves, and know how.

Now my problem with that is that I'm sure companies that want to do it themselves would probably want quite a bit of control over the product that's sent to their workforce. Just one example would be the ability to customise the search.ini. I'm not saying that Opera should disregard its bottom line and not put the paid default searches there, I'm just saying that allowing people to insert, even as default perhaps, a search field to search their company's website etc.

I mean, I'm sure it can't be difficult. The last I checked, the Opera installers I downloaded are simply archives with the installation files inside, so if they could be edited in the archive, that would be a nice way of tweaking without giving away too much of Opera's intellectual property. Certainly a little documentation couldn't hurt. If you could just drag and drop customised .ini files, skins and setup files into a folder in the install archive, that would really be the bees-knees.

Though it's now occurred to me that why Opera might not do this is that it could be abused by people putting dodgy (ie: malicious) files in the installers - but they they could just as easily exploit browser flaws in the default bookmarks.

In the end though, I think at the very least, there might be options to enable the personal bar when you have a custom bookmarks file, simple things like that, that seem like inconsistencies within the Composer interface, would make companies think just a bit longer about how easy Opera makes it for them to switch. And really, it would project a much more robust and professional image for Opera to put forward to its potential big customers.

Basically what I'm saying is that if you can upload a opera.adr file to customise, and can upload a custom created skin, why not allow that functionality for any number of .ini files?


Yes, this new tool is very nice. Although I've read out from description of Composer, that this isn't only for companies or other "official" distributors, but for private use, too. Concluded for anybody independently of its status, for everybody, isn't it?

"Opera Composer is a free on-line tool for anyone who wants to distribute a customized Opera 8 for Windows to their friends, family, members, employees, or customers."

So yes, it's here for the fanboys as well :D. Unfortunately I tend to customise far more than they offer, so it's always more of a chore for me when I'm installing for friends. Hence the request.

But I think it's meant more as a proof of concept, or at least as a taster of what kind of customisation Opera can offer. And in particular it would be perfect for small time(ish) ISPs etc. who just want to brand the software and distribute it, as they used to do with their "customised versions" of IE - basically just changing the name of the browser in the title bar.

Yes, I think, too, that it's only a start (hoping) for the total customizing in the installation package. I miss, yet, the language, INI's, etc...
Concluded: It would be magically, if I my own customized Profile could pack into the install package without private datas. And would be happy, if in one Windows profile could I have multiple profiles, and switch between them in Opera, and only a restart...! Technically it should reorganize the pointers between INI files (menus, buttons, shortcuts,bookmarklets,etc...), IMHO.
It would be marvellous, if I could prompt try the environments from the "How does your Opera look?", and a few click-clack to "other browser".

Yeah, I think I forgot all about the fact that language really would be a big deal for many users - I can't remember if the old composer used to allow for different languages.

Does multiple profiles come from Firefox? Anyway I think it'd be not so likely, since you can just install to another directory and run a parallel version of Opera with entirely different settings anyway. And with a 3.6MB download, it's not like it takes up space - just another desktop icon.

Yeah, but I get the feeling the extent of what they'd do is more options for the web interface - installer hacking might be too intimidating for some - though probably most useful for the advanced users. Just imagine, there'd be customised installers like there'd be flavours of linux :P.

Not. I don't know FireFox's way for multiple profiles (if exists). The idea came from my experience, that Opera has the profile principle for one instance of the program, but multiplicated only for Windows profiles (one Opera profile=one Windows profile). If my any friend ask me for install any Opera test, I pack my entire directory, install by my friend in the same directory, and eliminate the personal and private datas. Or is similar, if I make a clean install on the PC of my friend in the same directory, and I copy only my own Profile directory without privates. But I think further, why have I to use the same directory? I analyzed INI structure, and think, with a simple reorganizing it would be able to use more Profile directories with several settings of menus, buttons, toolbars, skins, bookmarks, etc..., and could be switched between profiles. It need only a more hierarchically structured "path pointer" principle.

I'm not sure I understand all of that, but if I get you, it would also mean that it would be easier to say run Opera off a thumb drive, because of relative rather than absolute paths?

If I understand what you're saying, wouldn't that involve them having to rewrite at least some part of the structure of opera6.ini? Because things like search.ini, fine, there's no real personal data there, and it can be moved around without problems - but opera6.ini has personal info like your e-mail address (if you filled it in). But yes, that's also where relative paths would most need to be, since otherwise it's all hard coded to the various absolute paths.

But you're right, personal data should be in a seperate folder - ie: histories, address book(?), contacts, wand.dat etc. Or do you mean that settings as well should be seperate? - I mean that would get around having to change multiple things like toolbars and keyboard setups, but otherwise I'm not sure why you'd want it that way.

If you want to be able to move all the settings and settings only you'd need the 2 things I'd mentioned: relative paths, and seperation of settings and personal data. The address book however might be an issue.

P.S: I hope you don't find my notification system too annoying, it's relatively new, so I'm wondering if people dislike it - especially now I've turned it on by default.

Indeed, I was a bit complicated. I could take the sample of skin. I can switch to other skin easily. But if I mention skin, I can think as encapsulated some other elements: custombuttons, menus, shortcuts, some preferences. I could switch easily to a specific layout, menu and behaviour elements, that emulates Internet Explorer, FireFox, or any other imaginative environment. And if I wish any other, I can change, and I receive a "totally new" browser. Of course this encapsulating apply only to layout and behaviour elements, not for private elements. Although I don't know precise, what elements should be encapsulated in these "extended skin" packages. It should be a pointer to the directory of the actual profile, and I should change this pointer. I hope, I was any more understandable. :)

Ok, that's very clear, so it's more about a holistic setup file - my analogy would be WordPress' new "themes" functionality, which is much more powerful that just CSS would be.

You should bring it up in the forums - my sermonising here is/will only be of limited effect :).

Yes, I thought to do that, but I mean, that Opera has already many new suggests and wishes, and if I can manage it myself, I don't come out my own "dream". Probably later. Thanks for the useful conversation! Otherwise I read and like your blog :)

Pardon, I by accident caught up my own post. This, and my next second post consist my "wish".


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This page contains a single entry by subtitles published on June 26, 2005 10:53 AM.

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