Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Opera web browser

      Opera is a small (11 MB for the version 11.50) web browser, but it has played a large roll in how we browse the internet today. It pioneered features like mouse gestures, closed tabs, and most notably tabs themselves. Even though Opera was the first to dream up these features it only has about 1% of the total market share of web browsers, internet explorer 8 being the highest.

The psychology to Opera's neglect
Why would a program that paves the way for browsing as we know it be used by only 1% of all of the millions of internet users?

Even if you had a war winning weapon you may still prefer an army. It's that philosophy that causes Opera to be an unpopular browser. You could assume that a browser with more users would have more support, addon writers, and helpers when something goes wrong.

People may also be afraid of the new untested features that Opera produces. Once features trickle down to other browsers they are refined to fit in with the style of that browser. In Opera they are all "fresh out of the oven" and may be scary concepts at first. It's exactly like how the Alpha phase scares some away while others prefer it, other people would prefer beta, others the stable release. Opera would draw from those who like the "alpha" phase of a new feature.

The browser itself
I had been contemplating download opera for a long time before I actually did it. I must have visited the download page 3 time over the past month before I actually decided to test it out. Once I ran it I was very pleased.

Opera loaded in less than 2 seconds, which I expected because it had nothing added onto it. The next thing I noticed were the Panel, Opera Link, Opera Unite, and Turbo mode buttons.

Panel simply opens more options on the left side of the screen. What is shown here can be edited from the Opera menu. Opera link lets you access your bookmarks from anywhere. Opera unite seems to be pretty useful. Once you register an account it gives you some server space to put applications and files on. The turbo button improves browsing for those with slow internet connections by making great use of caching.

Opera caches by default and you may wish to make it check for changed on every reload. You can also do that from the Opera menu.

Compared to other browsers it seems to be extremely fast. Not only in startup, but in page loading as well. Even more so when using Turbo.

Addons, extensions, scripts
Opera is not compatible with firefox or chrome addons. This reduces the amount of addons by a lot. There seem to be plenty of Opera extensions that mimic some of the most popular firefox/chrome ones, but they still are not the same. There is some good news yet to come though. There is no need for Greasemonkey to install your own scripts or download them from userscripts.org You need to make your own folder for the scripts and copy the source code yourself. Then end it with the ".user.js" file extension, put it in the folder, and tell Opera to look in the folder from Opera menu> settings> preferences>Advanced>Content

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