opera 9 is worth a look

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.


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  1. I think that your last gripe will go away with time.
    But I have had the same problme of websites just looking “slightly wrong”.

    your post just brings up the point of google’s GREAT QA testing of their gmail website and getting those bug fixes into the production code. Also I bet there are a few opera fans at google.

    Comment by christopher on June 26, 2006 @ 9:58 am
  2. I’ve been using 8.54 as my primary browser for quite a while. In fact, I also use the Opera Mail Client as well which was a big commitment on my part. Migrating from Mutt to a graphical mail client was a bit painful, but by enabling Opera keyboard shortcuts to mimic some of the vi-like keys in Mutt, it’s become my favorite.

    I’m a bit hesitant at upgrading right away to Opera 9 though. Maybe I’ll upgrade in a week or two. Thanks for the notification.

    Comment by jason on June 26, 2006 @ 11:27 am
  3. Christopher: I hope so, but it really depends on the perception of web developers. If the perception remains that Opera is only a fringe browser that no one really uses, then support isn’t likely to improve. It’s kind of a catch 22 because it’s hard to become popular if sites don’t work very well in it, but on the flip side, sites aren’t likely to make it work well until it’s popular.

    Jason: It’s not a huge change from 8.x as far as the UI, but it’s quite possible that a bug release will come out after the big 9.0 release that will fix some of the glitches.

    Comment by dan on June 26, 2006 @ 11:29 am
  4. Opera 9 do support gmail chat. Login to your gmail account,
    right click and select site preference, goto network tab
    and select mask as mozilla, hit Ctrl+R and u’ll have gmail
    chat from now on.

    Comment by Hirak on July 24, 2006 @ 9:24 pm
  5. So that’s where the browser settings went to. Thanks for the tip, I just tried it and I now have Google chat in Opera.

    Comment by dan on July 25, 2006 @ 6:23 am
  6. I have been using Camino after giving up on Safari. Firefox was a dog for me on Mac OS X. I tried the Oprea 9 beta and I liked the features (similarity to Firefox with the extensions I put on it) so I’ve started using Opera 9 since the ‘real’ release but I’ve run into a huge drawback… If I have two windows open and one is continuing to load, it will stay maximized and “on top” relative to any other windows in the Opera application. I was hoping it was a loading setting but I couldn’t figure it out. This will surely send me right back to Camino – but I would have liked to spend more time with Opera.

    Comment by ebola on July 29, 2006 @ 11:01 am

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