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October 25, 2006

What Can Opera Learn from Firefox?

I've used Opera as my main browser for many years. It's hard to saw why I switched to Firefox, but someone just did that and wrote an interesting article:

"Nowadays Opera seems to be grumpy and wanting attention for its past innovations and the things it is trying to do to keep up with Firefox and IE7. (...) In version 9.0 of Opera they released widgets to try and compete with Firefox's extensions. They seemed to entirely miss the point of how Firefox's extensions change your entire experience, and in turn created something less than thrilling. (...)

Web designers tend to try and support what the majority of their users will be using. They want everyone to use their web-apps, but tweaking for each browser takes time. Opera is a Web 1.0 browser, not because of Opera's own doing, but because the majority of Web 2.0 does not have the time to make it compatible."

So Opera can't escape the underdog complex, while having an elitist attitude.

"IE 7 comes out and adds tabbed browsing, but Opera has had that for 10 years. Credit is due Opera, and we'd like to see that reflected in market share," says Hakon Wium Lie, Opera's CTO. The problem is that people don't really care about who had this idea (Opera didn't actually invented tabbed browsing), and they don't care that Microsoft has said for many years that tabbed browsing is useless.

If Opera adds a plug-in system similar to the one from Firefox, improves they way it handles feeds, solves the JavaScript inconsistencies, fixes its Rich Text Editor, and has a more user-friendly interface, people might have a hard time choosing between Firefox and Opera.

The extensibility and simplicity is what makes Firefox great and Opera should learn from that.

Related:
10 great features from Opera

Google sites that don't work in Opera:
Google Calendar, Google Pages, Google Docs, Google Notebook, Picasa Web Albums (partially).

18 comments:

  1. I use Opera as primary browser and never had problem with web 2.0 apps like Google calendar or spreadsheets

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  2. I'd like to use firefox beacuse opera is closed source but it's too damn slow...
    Opera beats firefox in renderning times,cold start and warm start.Extensions slow things down even more...
    Said that i agree that Opera can be a pain in the neck,sometimes things are just wrong...

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  3. @mko

    Try using web 2.0 applications in firefox / IE first and then check back with opera..you will know what u missed.

    I have try hard to adopt Opera..since version 3..I stayed the longest on version 6 but had to give up after Firefox came in..IE was used only for some senile, primitive websites that did not support any other browser.

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  4. I have try hard to adopt Opera..since version 3..I stayed the longest on version 6 but had to give up after Firefox came in..IE was used only for some senile, primitive websites that did not support any other browser.

    erm.. Opera is in version 9 right now.

    Ionut, there's nothing worng with Opera's RTE implementation. It works flawlessly and writely can be a proof of that (if you fix the GetWYSIWYGSelection fuction to check for window.getSelection first). The problem is the same as always... brain dead browser sniffing.
    Opera interface is dead simple, and logical, not just some imitation of IE.
    What do feeds have to do with anything ?

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  5. I am currently using IE 6, IE7 on Vistas, Firefox beta and Opera 9.02. I have been using Opera as a main browser since its 8.5 version and I don´t have complaints but its handling of some Google pages (calendar, page creator, etc.).
    Since it has mouse gestures, and other interesting features which Firefox or IE7 don´t have (or you have to look for them to have it) its the best "all-in-one" browser. Moreover its more user friendly than Firefox or IE (compare the layout of icons for example). And I have to agree with GAS that its faster than firefox.

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  6. For me Opera is still the fastest and most stable browser. The big problem is that most sites I visit are simply not compatible with Opera and I hate the garbled websites it presents.

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  7. Back when Netscape turned into a bloated monster, I tried Opera and got a General Protection Fault, so I left it and stuck with IE. When Opera hit version 3 or 4, I decided to give it another go, and got a blue screen for my troubles. This is an application that everybody was saying was so stable! I haven't touched it since then, and since I've been using Firefox since version 0.3, I never had any reason to use anything else.

    What Firefox had from the start is less of a dictatorial attitude about how you as a user were going to view the web. I always feel that when I use Firefox that if there's something I don't like about it, there *is* a way to change it. Obviously it has its flaws, like occasional sluggishness and memory usage, but personally the advantages more than make up for it.

    That said, I will be interested to see what Opera on the Wii is going to be like, and think the whole Web 2.0 thing is a bit of a red herring.

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  8. Everyone forgot to mention that Opera 9 is the only browser that supports w3c standards. The rest use shortcuts because they are too lazy to write it correctly, then when web site developers decide they want their site to be viewable in Mozilla (firefox) or IE they are forced to use the shortcuts. This is the reason why some people would say that javascript doesn't work in Opera, because they are used to using the proprietary versions in Mozilla and IE.

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  9. Opera is a lot like Linux, it might give you the power to change the appearance completley - but most users will find it too complex, how many FF users stick with the original theme?

    I like Opera and use it, but until it can unify the themes/toolbars/appearance in to one downloadable file, like Firefoxs themes, and until it has extensions on par with Firefox - its pointless for most.

    Sure, Opera follows standards - but does it want the high ground or users? If it wants users, it should make sure most sites work with it.

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  10. "In version 9.0 of Opera they released widgets to try and compete with Firefox's extensions."

    That's just nonsense. Widgets have got nothing to do with extensions. They aren't meant to be anything like extensions. Extensions hook into the browser, while widgets are "standalone" apps, separate from the browser.

    "how many FF users stick with the original theme?"

    Most, probably. Why?

    "I like Opera and use it, but until it can unify the themes/toolbars/appearance in to one downloadable file, like Firefoxs themes,"

    It already does that. And it doesn't even require a restart, unlike Firefox.

    "and until it has extensions on par with Firefox - its pointless for most."

    Most Firefox users don't even use extensions.

    "Sure, Opera follows standards - but does it want the high ground or users? If it wants users, it should make sure most sites work with it."

    Opera has always handled badly coded sites. It even has a complete rendering mode for that. It's a blatant lie that Opera only supports standards. They even brag about handling "Street HTML" (broken HTML found on web sites) on opera.com!

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  11. For the record:

    Google Calendar works fine with opera 9.0. Perfectly well.

    Better, in fact, than Safari - which is t echnically supported.

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  12. Does it really work? In my Opera 9.02 (Windows XP), Google Calendar shows a blank window. If I mask the browser as Opera, here's what I see:

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  13. With Opera 9.2, default user agent, this is what Google Calendar looks like:

    http://locker.uky.edu/~jhcunn3/operacalendar.jpg

    Google will pop up a message saying the browser isn't supported; you have to click "cancel".

    This is what it looks like with Opera 9.2 on my platform of choice:

    http://locker.uky.edu/~jhcunn3/operacalendarmac.png

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  14. Of course I meant Opera 9.02.

    And note that I was actually *using* Opera, not masking another browser.

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  15. You're right. I've pressed F5 a couple of times and an alert said:

    "Sorry, you are trying to use Google Calendar with a browser that isn't currently supported. Press OK to view a read only version of your calendar. Press Cancel to continue loading Google Calendar and hope for the best!"

    If you press Cancel, Google Calendar loads and it works pretty well.

    It's weird. Yesterday, when I visited google.com/calendar, all I could see was a blank page.

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  16. i'am using opera since version 3 or so, not for special connexion with this software company but for efficiency.

    Usually browsing ten website or so at a time, at speed i can't get from any other browser, not only because of the way the browser handle html, script an so on, but also because of better caching and available keystrokes to switch back and forth, searching, tabbing....
    At nearly every update, i am evaluating switching to other browser like IE and IEaddons, Firefox and firefox extensions but yet, opera is still faster and more efficient.

    For web2.0 site, it is handling things quite well, especially google web2.0 pages. Main problem is browser detection as webdesigner usually don't design for opera but detect and block it event when it is perfectly functionning.

    As a webdesigner (html, php, jscript) i find it a very valuable tool.

    On your list of advantage of firefox, the only thing that is not in opera is extension, but so many are builtin and really functionning (page resize, printing big page, css replacing, ads blocking, jscript replacing, information on pages, on links, ...) that function quite well but may lack of ease of use.

    Greasemonkey is a great thing, i have been told it can function with opera but i have a faster and better thing for that, proxomitron, less graphical, less platforms, but damm fast and efficient.

    Still the main problem if for unknown reason, journalist don't use and really know opera, so when writing about firefox or IE, they "discover" new feature

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  17. I think its interesting that most Opera users are "tech heads". What I mean by that is "users" who have an above average knowledge of things like coding and programing. These typical users do a) not have fear of "tinkering" with opera to make it "work" or b)have a Strong understanding of how to fix these "issues".

    I think cunningjames comment about "clicking cancel" is a response from someone who has a higher level of user experience with those types of "error" messages. I know some people are thinking right now - it's not an error. But it is to the users who don't know what it is or how to respond to it.

    Firefox knows what users want and knows how to give it to them. They provide a great easy to use experience right after install (great beginners level to start). A perfect example of this is spelling. Firefox has it built in. I know people are saying it didn't until v2. But even then the extension was easy to install and worked better than Aspell. Still Opera doesn't have built in spell check. It is completely missing what the web is today - blogging, writing, posting online. It's crazy.

    Firefox also satisfies advanced users like developers and the more intermediate users. It allows developers to make extensions and intermediate users to install them.

    I feel that Opera is designed for an elite coder/programmer crowd and tends to think "others" are doing it wrong and that they need to whack them with a rolled up newspaper on the head to show them their mistakes.

    And one last thing - we all understand how designing pushes user acceptance, satisfaction, and enjoyment. I think Opera needs to re-brand itself and design a killer user interface.

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  18. I think mozilla is much better.

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