I’ve been an Opera fan for several years now, but I haven’t used Opera 8.x in the past year because it didn’t support several essential features in Gmail (like auto-completing e-mail addresses). As a result, I’ve used Firefox exclusively. The last few releases of Firefox have seemed to make it more sluggish and there has been an ongoing problem of a memory leak so when I leave Firefox running for several days I end up eating into swap and everything gets extremely slow until I restart firefox. A few seconds after I close Firefox the memory would all be cleaned up.
I’ll still use Firefox for browsing, but I decided to take a look at the latest release of Opera 9 and I have decided to switch back to it as my primary browser. It handles Gmail much better now (except for Google talk) and it’s just as lightweight and agile as I remember in terms of speed and page loading. They’ve also made the shortcut to open a new tab Ctrl-t instead of Ctrl-n which always caused me headaches when switching back and forth between Firefox and Opera. Now that they’re the same I keep opening entirely new windows in Opera, but once I get used to the change, switching between them will be less of a nuisance.
A few of the highlights of Opera are that one, it’s the first mainstream browser to pass the Web Standards Acid2 test, which means if a web site adheres to all of the standards, then it should render perfectly in Opera. I’ve just started using Widgets and I really like them. I have one for weather and a calendar. They’re a mix between Yahoo Widgets (previously Konfabulator) and Firefox extensions (more on the widgets side than extensions, but they makes Opera extensible). Other highlights include thumbnail previews (just hover the mouse over a tab and you can see a thumbnail of the page as well as the title and information about the page), native bittorrent support (no need to get a third party application to download bittorrents), custom content blocker (an easy way to get rid of an annoying ad on a specific page) and those are just a few of the new features. It still has all the old features that I’ve enjoyed too. You can see the whole list of features at Opera’s site.
Since I wrote the draft of this entry until now, I’ve been using Opera 9 and there have been some annoyances, so it’s certainly not a panacea. The problem is usually related to the fact that people don’t test with Opera, so even if the fix is easy, it just isn’t done. A few of the issues are related to WordPress, like the comment information not being remembered and post preview not working. I’ll still be using Opera, but I may be using Firefox a little more than I had originally planned. It’s great to have options.