Tuesday, September 20, 2005

A final word on Opera.

So, after testing the waters, Opera has decided to drop the $40 paid registration and make it free for everyone. Which is great, but I will still use Firefox as my primary browser. Here's why:
  • No Adblock in Opera: This is probably the most important reason. And I have no reason to believe that Opera will ever have an Adblock feature.
  • No rich text (WYSIWYG) editing: As a blogger, it's pointless to use a browser which doesn't have a WYSIWYG edit control. I'm not going to write HTML code in my blog if I can avoid it. Opera engineers say they are working on a WYSIWYG edit control, so maybe sometime in the future it will be available.
  • "Wrong" tabbed browsing behavior: Closing a tab selects the previously selected tab in Opera. There is no way to really fix this (there are workarounds involving gestures etc.) My desired behavior is that the tab to the right of the closed tab should be selected. This is the default behavior in Firefox. Also, if for some reason, you want Opera style behavior in Firefox you can get it using an extension like Tab Mix. This shouldn't be hard for Opera engineers to fix and seeing as how many different people have requested for this, they should try and do it soon.
  • Can't move Personal Bar next to the menu: This is just a convenient space saver. In Firefox (and IE) I can move the Personsl Bar (Bookmarks Toolbar in Firefox / Links bar in IE) right next to the menu. Thus giving me some more browsing space while retaining quick access to my favorite bookmarklets.
  • No Ctrl-Enter/Shift-Enter/Ctrl-Shift-Enter: In Firefox these shortcuts autocomplete an address with www. .com, www. .net and www. .org respectively. There are no equivalent shortcuts in Opera, and the workaround doesn't behave correctly when the site in question has bogus .com, .net or .org versions.
  • No Sage: While Opera does have a built in RSS reader, it is nowhere are powerful as the Firefox extension, Sage. Sage has a digest view so you can read all posts on a blog at once instead of just looking at a headline. OPML import/export is the icing on the cake.
There are a few other minor reasons why I prefer Firefox, (minor UI stuff like being able to middle-click on the back and front buttons etc.) but the ones listed above are the most important.

I do like Opera on one of the computers I use. It is an old Pentium III laptop and Opera's fast load times and low memory usage let it run rings around Firefox.

I should however mention two incredible Opera features which no other browser seems to have. If I ever switch to Opera (will only happen if all the stuff mentioned above gets fixed), these two features will be among most important reasons:
  • Zoom: Opera's zoom is unlike every other browsers zoom. Everything zooms, not just the text. Even with the Colorzilla extension Firefox cannot do what Opera can. Don't believe me? Try zooming in this blog using Firefox, IE and Opera. Opera just kicks ass.
  • Fit to window width: Does what it says. Fits the current page to width. You never have to scroll horizontally again. Haven't found an IE or Firefox extension which will let me do that.
My advice to Opera:
  • Make it easier for IE users to switch: Maybe have a special toolbar and keyboard setup which emulates IE installed by default. (Current Opera users should be allowed to keep their customizations of course.) And for God's sake let people import their bookmarks, history, cookies etc. during installation.
  • Rich text editing should be a priority: Let's face it. If you want good publicity from bloggers, then their favorite blogging tools (like Blogger) should function as well as they do on Firefox and IE. No excuses.
  • Create an extension architecture: Yes, it probably goes against your entire design philosophy etc. etc. Well, so did giving your browser away for free, but guess what! It's an easy way to tap into geeks and it's probably the only way something like Adblock will be a reality on Opera.

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