Tuesday, June 16th, 2009

Opera Unite: P2P in the browser with a services model

Category: Browsers, Opera

Opera has been leading us on to a bit product launch, and it came today in the form of Opera Unite a product which extends the Opera browser to contain a Web server inside allowing you to talk P2P between browsers (via a proxy at operaunite.com).

On the one hand, skeptics have argued that this has been done before. We have things like the Plain Old Web server and P2P extensions. However, it is nice to see it packaged cleanly, and we have the advantage of more standard APIs (HTML5 APIs, Widget APIs, etc). At Mozilla (disclaimer: remember I work there ;), we also have something that overlaps with this work in Weave.

If you check out the developer primer you will quickly learn that to create a service you simply whip up some JavaScript, XML, and call it good. It is definitely interesting that the “web server” is a server side JavaScript implementation too!

John Resig noticed that from looking at the examples you miss a decent storage API:

Reading the Opera Unite primer. Opera really needs client-side SQL

I believe that there is room for the browser to do more, and to truly be your “User Agent”, thus I agree with some of the core tenants of what Opera is trying to do here. That being said, I worry that for all the talk of freedom, are we locked into Opera? :) It would be great to get this out to the community and work on getting multiple implementations and clear licensing of the protocols behind this.

What do you think?

Posted by Dion Almaer at 10:40 am

3.5 rating from 38 votes


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Is it a real P2P? UDP/TCP?
It’s great opportunity to open the protocols to public.

Web server:
Any benchmark about it?
Although I think something like Apache/nginx + mod_js will be the best solution for the server side JS, but opera’s approach is just great like what Aptana Jaxer and wxjs have done.

Comment by ssssssssssss — June 16, 2009

So if I want to set up a server I set up a box with Opera on it? Can each tab be a different server?

Comment by Nosredna — June 16, 2009

The great part is that Opera doesn’t lock you into using Opera.

You can start your unite server at home, leave your computer on, and use that server from anywhere in the world, on any cool browser you like.

Comment by hdragomir — June 16, 2009

So essentially a platform for writing extremely limited peer-to-peer apps with a single point of failure (Opera’s proxy) and no SSL? I love Opera, but I’m a little skeptical after widgets failed to give anything close to the power of FF extensions.

That said, I love Opera and someone will do surely make something really cool with Unite.

Comment by mrclay — June 16, 2009

I must say I don’t understand this concept at all. What happens when I turn of my computer for example my lap top. I guess the show is over for all of my friends, they won’t be able to see my images or access my files. So it’s much better to simply upload the photos and files to a real server like Flickr, Facebook or Dropbox since it will then always be available. I agree with the problem with privacy on social sites since some of them claims your content as their own but if no one can access your content anyway whats the point then?

Comment by Spocke — June 16, 2009

I think most people by now realize that it is just a matter of time before we start booting from our browsers, essentially turning all our PC’s into small web servers. To me, this simply looks like a first step for Opera.

I won’t use it, but nevertheless, I’m interested to see where they take it from here.

Comment by RyanMorr — June 16, 2009

Even in the open web it’s cool to see how much room there is for innovation. You go, Opera!

BTW, “tenants” s/b “tenets” :p

Comment by starkraving — June 17, 2009

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