Opera Unite: Your Computer Just Became A Server

Writing on the Opera Labs Blog, Lawrence Eng, product analyst for Opera Software, describes the mission of Opera Unite: to connect users who want to share data.

"With Opera Unite, everyday nontechnical users can serve and share content and services directly from their own computers in the form of intuitive applications," wrote Eng.

The idea is that rather than having to upload photos, music or documents to a Web site, Opera Unite turns an individual's computer into that Web site. So instead of using a site like Flickr, a user can just send photos directly from one computer to another computer without a middle man.

Opera Unite will also give developers the chance to write new programs and applications that can be incorporated into the service.

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"With Opera Unite, we are giving developers a chance to develop applications (known as Opera Unite services) that directly link people's personal computers together, so that you can connect with one or more of your friends at the same time. It all happens through the browser, so no additional software has to be downloaded, and it will work wherever Opera works," wrote Eng.

Once Opera Unite is loaded onto a machine, file sharing is pretty simple. To share a photo, for example, a user selects the file and then Opera Unite creates a URL linking to that file, which can be shared with friends.

Media, such as music, can also be easily shared with other users. Like the file-sharing service, a playlist can be turned into a URL that plays in nearly any Web browser. Photos can be shared the same way.

But because Opera is hoping its developer community will be a part of the service, some sort of social networking feature needs to be included.

To that end, Opera Unite has The Lounge and The Fridge. The Lounge is a self-contained chat service that friends can access through a direct link. The Fridge, meanwhile, seems to be similar to a Facebook wall. Friends can write on virtual refrigerators, leaving notes and messages privately and in realtime.