Saturday, June 16, 2007

Opera 9.2 is a pretty good browser

I've been trying Opera 9.2 for a week, and I'm pleased with it enough that it's going to continue to be my main browser. The main selling points for me are

  • MDI weirdness is mostly hidden now, I hated earlier Opera UIs
  • 20-30% less memory use; even after poking about in the guts of about:config to force FF's memory cache to the same 10MB that I gave Opera (which exposes this option right in the UI), Opera consistently uses less memory for the same workload. (Without adding this option to FF, it would max out around 400MB instead of 150MB.)
  • feels snappier; opera seems quicker to start rendering something useful on slow-loading sites like 1up.com, although total render time is about the same. It's also instantaneous to open a new tab, which consistently takes around 1s on FF after I've been using it a while. I open and close tabs frequently.
  • UI takes up less space: I know it's possible to re-skin FF, but I'd have to google it to find out how. Opera makes it easy. I'm using the Fresh skin for Opera which condenses the File menu and nav bar to about half as much height as FF uses.
  • built-in AutoFill, so I save even more space by not needing Google Toolbar
  • javascript/DOM support is finally close enough to FF that most sites don't have to specifically code for Opera. Heavy ajax use is an exception of course; I still have to use FF for Google Docs. (Gmail and Maps work fine though, probably due to some effort by Google.)
  • Download manager goes in another tab by default instead of a separate window. I didn't realize how much FF's behavior annoyed me before.

Downsides:

  • Occasional rendering problems, such as when customizing a laptop on hp.com. Blogger.com doesn't redirect to my dashboard when I'm already logged in to my google account.
  • Very very slow navigating large pages, such as a slashdot comment thread with 400 comments. Isearch is even slower on large pages and can lock up the UI for minutes if you invoke it injudiciously.
  • Sometimes ignores a site's instructions to not cache a dynamic page
  • hard to tell which tab is active in the default theme. (Fresh fixes this.)

6 comments:

Marius said...

For me "Not open source" is a rather large downside.

Florian said...

I don't like the user interface of opera. It seems bloated and full of wrong choices (yes I run a stripped to the bones ff interface here).

The developer tools for opera are about as bad as those for IE, meaning you don't have good backtraces, dom inspection, a development console etc.

However, if you're into heavy scripting, there is absolutely no reason today anymore to have a hassle with handling different browsers uniformly. Just drop by jquery.com and enjoy.

Anonymous said...

Any devtools like firebug??
This and (gmail chat) is the main reason why i continue to put up firefox's memory hogging on my
G4 powebook

MattK said...

I am finding Opera useful for "home use", and on older hardware that is re-purposed for simple web/e-mail reading. Opera on Linux is noticeably faster, and more stable in at least one example: a PII with 96 MB RAM running damnsmalllinux.

It also works well on the Nokia N800 tablet (Opera v8.something) - another low resource Linux device.

Anonymous said...

Just a few things I'd like to add (compared to inex instead of ff):

mouse gestures

Fast Forward (excellent on google any many other sites, just a move with right mouse click to the right forwards you one page)

Navigating with Sift[UP/LEFT/DOWN/RIGHT] between links

Open all 20 pictures with a few clicks by opening the sidebar with F4, click on Links, select the windows and open in new background tab. or save those 10 videos just as easily.

Also, stripping it down is easily done. I have just tabs, google search, back, forward and not one more icon/button. I never use the menu except once per month for "check for new version".

reopen last closed tab (close "undo" with ctrl-z

complete session allways saved, I can close opera and reopen it and not lost any of my twenty tabs.

9 favorite web pages that I can choose from every time I open a new tab, with thumbnails that show theyr content which is updated every 30 minutes.

keyboard customizing - the first button above TAB closes a tab, 1 is preview tab, 2 is next tab.

expired pages are still shown. often I fill out a form like this one, and then my comment gets eaten by something. with opera I can just browse back and copy that text I wrote, forward and then paste it.

for gmail I have one instance of internet explorer open which I use for nothing else.

Daniel Goldman said...

Hi, Daniel Goldman from Opera Software here.

Jonathon, it's great to hear that you're enjoying OPera. :)

Florian, we have some developer tools. However, we're currently working on more serious ones, similar to Firebug.

Btw, it looks like someone is stealing your content. (See this)