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Why Opera? : Comments

By Matthew Pennell

January 7, 2008


Adrian Simmons

January 8, 2008 4:20 AM

Opera is certainly fast at rendering and has some great under the hood features but it’s the UI that holds it back. At least on the Mac.

One really annoying thing is the placement of the toolbars, I’ve never understood the logic of putting the tab bar above the address bar, it’s different from every other mac browser and there’s no obvious way to change the order.

Add to that the fact that the default toolbar/button look and feel is so dated. The toolbars just don’t seem to sit well together, it’s something to do with the borders/edges of each one…

It doesn’t need to be ‘mac native’ to do that, as a web developer who often has several browsers open I prefer them to look distinctive.

I’ve tried to use Opera in the past, I just tried again, tried to download a different ‘toolbar setup’ which didn’t work… either in 9.25 or in the 9.5 beta. Customization is all well and dandy, but the default should look good and work well out of the box.

Opera need to polish up their browser UI to be as slick as their web site!

Chris Mills

January 8, 2008 4:32 AM

Hi Adrian,

Well, at least you think our web site is slick ;-)

I’m also a Mac user, and one of the first things I did when joining Opera was push for improvements to the Mac UI. You must agree that the UI has come on a lot between 9.23 and 9.5. We have done a lot more work too, since the 9.5b skin was finalized, and I think you’ll be impressed at the next release (can’t say much more than that right now.)

Thanks for your feedback anyway – it’s always helpful to hear what others think. If anyone has any more feedback they’d like to share or questions they’d like to ask, feel free to e-mail me at cmills [at] opera [dot] com.


Chris Mills

David Storey

January 8, 2008 5:39 AM

Hi Adrian,

As Chris said, we are always looking to improve our interface. I don’t think it is much of a secret that Opera 10 will have a somewhat revised UI.

For the toolbar positions, it happens to be something I agree with, although quite a few of our users like it the way it is. There are some usability reasons why it was placed the way it is. We could certainly make it easier to swap the toolbar and tab bar in preferences though.

For the icons, I quite like these icons. Another user has cusomised it here to put the tab bar where you like it, but he has also added a lot of mail icons as he uses M2. These can be removed of course.


January 8, 2008 7:11 AM

For me, Opera needs to fix two things to be really compelling (still missing the extensions, but well…): 1. System integration. I like to apply one theme for my whole OS and then have all applications themed that way. I consider Opera ugly, too… OK, Firefox doesn’t integrate that well on half of most open source OSes, but very well on the other half, and also in Windows (and I suppose Mac too?). 2. Open source. Sorry, but I’m a really passionate open source follower, and I think Opera’d also gain a much larger following by becoming open source. I think it’s unlikely to happen, but then again – why not?

As for the criticism on Firefox: I agree that it can be a memory hog on some systems (never had it myself, but if you read all those stories…)
However, it definitely has not experienced many security issues as a result of their open codebase. I’d definitely like some solid sources for that.

/me subscribes to the RSS feed of the comments on this article (not on Opera, sorry ;-)


January 8, 2008 1:21 PM

I’ve been using Opera since version 4. Its the best browser out there. But the feature that I most love and most people don’t notice until I tell them about it is Mouse Gestures. Seriously, I’ve managed to get Firefox users away from their extensions after they browse around their pages using MGs.

If I had to complain about Opera it’d be:

- heavy profile pages like MySpace, can slow down Opera to a crawl.

- the built-in Bittorrent client is nice, but it gives you very very little information (I still use uTorrent)

- add a “y _______” function to do quick searches on youtube.

-my roomate told me Opera crashes on Vista when he opens his ~80 bookmarks all at once (I know its overkill) but he says Firefox doesn’t crash, its his only complaint.

I can’t think of anything else at the moment. But keep up the good work! Can’t wait to see what you add in the next update.


January 8, 2008 1:52 PM

I feel you have missed the point about security. Opera, AFAIK, is just the most secure graphical browser available. However, I would like to have automated updates much the way that Firefox does.
I think you could have emphasized Opera Link more. Something that allows you to share your bookmarks and preferences on a low spec mobile and a computer is beyond cool.
I would like to see greater support for Google services and also greater advertisement for the JS scripts that allow us to use these sites.

Fabio Cevasco

January 8, 2008 2:10 PM

As someone who’s recently switched from Firefox to Opera, I can say that Opera 9 (or even better, 9.5) is definitely the most usable release of the browser ever.

I’ve been using Opera for weeks now, and there’s no going to Firefox so far!


January 8, 2008 2:19 PM

Wow, I never realised Opera link worked for the mobile versions as well – thats awesome.

I am a very passionate Opera user, and the mouse gestures are really the killer feature. However, I have temporarily moved to Safari (mac) until the Mac ui and a few other things are sorted out.

Reasons I use Safari:
1. Starts way faster (I guess cause webkit is already loaded by the OS?)
2. It feel snappier
3. Integrates with the OS far better (spellcheck, keyboard shortcuts, UI)
4. The ‘Zoom’ button works well, as Safari can figure out the optimum width of a webpage and resizes the window to fit. Opera doesn’t really do this.
5. I cant stand the Opera icon. Centre it and get rid of the shadow already!
6. The Safari debug tools are truly awesome (especially the element inspector)

Reasons why I miss Opera:
1. Mouse Gestures! (Apple+ALT+SHIFT+Arrow isn’t exactly easy to pull off in Safari :) )
2. Speed dial
3. Bookmarks sidebar
4. History search works far better in opera imho (the best of any browser by far)

I cant wait for v10 though, and I’m sure it will pretty much address all of the above issues, so I’ll be swinging back into the Opera camp in the near future. I can’t wait :)


January 8, 2008 3:06 PM was the first to have the search box customized search function so far as I know, way ahead of Opera. Icab has been very slow to upgrade, in part because they’re very legacy oriented and just a couple of people working on it.

Opera beats out Firefox for me because while it doesn’t have as many useful plugins, it’s not such a memory hog. The application fails, rather than commondeering the entire desktop causing all the other applications to freeze, requiring a hard restart.


January 8, 2008 3:30 PM

It is the most SECURE, fastest browser in the World. Please, don’t use it! I need the work fixing the infestations/bugs on your machine. Use Opera and ccleaner and you have just about bullet proofed your computer.

Adrian Simmons

January 8, 2008 3:54 PM

Thanks David, the ‘Entr’adcte 2.0’ toolbar setup and skin definitely help :)

Will probably make an effort to use Opera more now elements in the toolbars are where I expect them to be, even if they still don’t look too slick.

Looking forward to seeing the final 9.5 UI.

“although quite a few of our users like it the way it is”

I don’t doubt that, given how long it’s been this way – the cynic in me says it probably helps to keep them using Opera too ;)


January 8, 2008 4:20 PM

For goodness sake Opera


Even IE and firefox have them, why are we still in the dark ages?

Sure Opera has a ‘spellcheker’ but you almost need to use edlin to instal it and it DOESN’T WORK.



January 8, 2008 4:45 PM

The internet could use more articles like this. IE enjoys popularity because it’s integrated into Windows (force fed even if you don’t want it), Firefox because it’s trendy (huzzah for ignorance that better alternatives exist).

So it’s endlessly frustrating to encounter websites that continue to flat out deny access to any browser except those two. Opera’s more compatible with web standards, it’s been around for over a decade, it does everything better than the competition and was doing so before them. There’s no reason not to support it.

I suspect that much of this could be the stigma from the old banner ad when they had a pro and basic package. It’s a shame that for everything that was superior about the browser, they didn’t have the foresight back then to implement the business model they currently employ.

I hope the presence of Opera on mobiles and console platforms will help increase the presence of the desktop as well.


January 8, 2008 7:13 PM

I’ve been using Opera for… quite a while. I can’t remember when I started, but the free version still had advertisements back then. Primarily, I use it for the sessions to read webcomics and blogs, and the tabbed browsing. The only thing I can think of right now that I’d like for Opera is better compatibility, which the developers don’t entirely have influence over. As examples…

When I’m surfing my RSS feeds on Bloglines, the inline images sometimes render in a way that puts the text at the edge of the page. Some of it renders out of sight, and I’m not getting the ability to scroll sideways sometimes. Other times, I do. My knowledge of web coding isn’t sufficient to judge if this is on Bloglines or on Opera, but it’s one thing I’ve noticed as a problem.

The other I’m almost certain that Opera can’t influence. There was a web advertisement for PSP that was running on Penny Arcade, 8-Bit Theater, and other comic sites. And as soon as that tab came up in my morning browsing, Opera would immediately crash. I’m guessing that has something to do with the advertisement itself.

The good news is that Opera has a feature where you can right-click on the page and select “Blocked Content” and it immediately grays out all the text to single out images and flash applets. Click the advertisement or image and it does a very passable job of guessing how to block that content provider’s materials. Shift-click and it simply blocks that exact item. It’s a selective AdBlock without downloading any sort of add-on.

I love Opera and have no intent to switch away, but it just plain has random quirks that you have to learn to accept to enjoy it. It still provides a great experience over all, regardless.


January 8, 2008 7:34 PM

I love Opera. The notes feature sold me. Other browsers require a plug-in for a notes-like feature. I have 2 things on my wish list:
1. An option to always open a link in a background tab when I left-click. I hate having my current page taken over and I hate having to right-click and choosing Open in background tab.
2. The ability for Opera to mask itself as a different browser automatically.
3. Support for Moonlight


January 8, 2008 10:12 PM

Opera is no doubt the fastest browser out there and everything that is said about it in this article is 100% correct, except for one thing, customization, Opera is still nowhere near as customizable or productive as Firefox, and it is doubtful that Opera ever will be. Sure Opera has a few extensions, but most of them are useless and a lot are not even integrated into the Browser UI. Why would I want a clock widget that floats seperately? With firefox the statusbar clock is integrated into the UI and even has the day and date as well as time.

A lot more work needs to be done with Opera on the extension side if it is ever going to grow as fast as Firefox, Firefox3 no longer has the memory issues that previous versions had and is much more stable. Opera has a lot of work to do if it is ever going to grow as fast as firefox has.


January 8, 2008 10:27 PM

Hey jbrown, you could middle-click links for them to open in a background tab.


January 9, 2008 3:01 AM

“In addition to widgets, we also have the ability to apply user-defined JavaScript to sites, to fix issues with those sites,”

Sadly, this technology was, like many Opera inventions, released in version .9 and NEVER upgraded since. While useless widgets got whole attentions.

I’ve read somewhere in the forums reasoning behind this, with all that bable about priorities etc. But if it was so low priority, why you advertise it to users? In current state it is for the most hardcore geeks, while it is at the same time very close to being user friendly. Sadly, for Opera, it is still too far.

This is main point, besides massive incompatibilies with websites, that turn me off from Opera. Designing great stuff (userJs, userCSS, and few more) just to let them rust, while all others copy them and ENVOLVE them. And then you claim, that you’ve invented it. Sorry, it doesn’t matter.

Cookie manager is another example – it was a revolutionary design in 2003 or 4, it isn’t now. Why I can’t multiselect many cookies at once and delete them? Many, really, many Opera functionalities are like that – introduced years ago (when they were trully great) and left to rust and dust.

As for the most customisable browser – when I should expect to see an option to make my tabs behave like FF ones? ie. close and move to the right (with middle click on a tab). When I should expect to see ability to cusomise middle click in the first place? Opera has lots of cusomisable areas, but sadly misses the ones, that people are used to customise from other applications.


January 9, 2008 4:34 AM

“IE enjoys popularity because it’s integrated into Windows (force fed even if you don’t want it), Firefox because it’s trendy (huzzah for ignorance that better alternatives exist).”

Rubbish, people don’t use firefox because it’s trendy, it’s because it has great plugins like Firebug and the web developer toolbar.

It makes web development 10 times easier.

Opera’s widgets are for the most part useless.


January 9, 2008 4:35 AM

I have been using Opera nearly for five years. Responsiveness, low memory foot-print and reliability had really made me confortable with Opera during the past five years. Shortly, I liked it.

And the current issues related to Opera for me are: – Opera do not work together well with Google technologies (Google way of using Ajax seems to be the responsible). Gmail blocks sometimes and Google notebook do not officially support Opera still.) – Some MS technology dependent web sites do not show up clearly in Opera. This is not the fault of Opera, but this issue obliges me to use IE.

My current Opera version is 9.25.

Good work.


January 9, 2008 4:55 AM


“ was the first to have the search box customized search function”

Nope, I think it was actually Opera.


January 9, 2008 5:00 AM


You can make tabs behave like IE actually. You can change the mouse gesture, the keyboard shortcut, create a custom button, etc. I think you can find some stuff at about this.


January 9, 2008 5:18 AM

I said explicitly about changing middle-clicking on tab to behave like firefox (or most tab-based apps).

Yes, I know about buttons and gestures, but
a) how many buttons you can put onto your browser and not have them bloat it?
b) there are only few easy to do mouse gestures, and I really don’t like the notion to use one of them up on something that should be customisable in the first place
c) keyboard shortcuts.. I try to avoid using keyboard, and somehow I can avoid it in most browsers, except Opera (that ruins VERY good keyboard-free experience, that Opera delivers, but well, I got used to that paradox)


January 9, 2008 8:16 AM

I’m sure there’s a way to customize the middle mouse button as well. If not, there are gestures, shortcuts, buttons (you just have to add one to change the closing order of tabs), etc. Lots of ways to change the way you close tabs.


January 9, 2008 8:17 AM


Opera’s mouse gestures are customizable, which means you can make them whatever you want. If you’re confused by the defaults, then change them. I don’t know any other browser lets you do that!

Opera does have different middle-click options (Tools -> Preferences -> Advaced -> Shortcuts). However, there are no such options in Firefox at all. I like how Opera re-focuses the tab to the previous active tab instad of just moving right one tab.

Almost anything in Opera can be customized. It gives more control over its behaviors than any other browser that I’ve seen and most of it can be done directly in the browser.

Also, Opera doesn’t have “massive incompatibilies” as you say. It handles the majority of the web just as well, if not better, than any other browser. I don’t know that site you visit, but I’m sure that’s where the problems lie.

However, I agree that some features that have been neglected and could use improvement and hopefully they will get updated soon. I also hope they add automatic updates and extensions.

Overall, I think Opera is a very powerful browser, if you bother to learn how to use it.


January 9, 2008 2:52 PM

Just a friendly reminder to our readers. Profanity isn’t all that cool in comments. It is also against our commenting policy. Please keep that in mind. We’ll remove any profane posts, in order to keep discussions civil and professional.


John Faulds

January 9, 2008 10:40 PM

I’ve been using both Opera and Firefox for about the same amount of time (3+ years). I started off using Opera mainly as a mail program. I’ve started using it more for web browsing lately but I still prefer Firefox. Having said that, I’ve never bothered to check out mouse gestures so will do so now.

John Faulds

January 9, 2008 11:05 PM

Just tried mouse gestures out and turns out I’d already been using some of them without even knowing it. While they’re cool I don’t think they’re that great – just a different sort of keyboard shortcut type thing.


January 10, 2008 4:10 AM

“Opera’s mouse gestures are customizable, which means you can make them whatever you want.”

I know, but there are only a couple of convenient moves you can make, that are more usefull than selecting the same action from context menu or whatever. action like left-up-right-down-left-up-down isn’t that usefull if you think about it a little longer :)

“Opera does have different middle-click options” these are for clicking on links, Firefox configures it as ‘tab behaviour’. Remember, that FF let’s you install extensions, and one of these (tab mix plus, or similar) gives you plently of options. It isn’t Firefox ‘fault’, that they’ve moved some functionality out of the core program into extensions, you can still add it. In opera, you cannot do it. You can mimic it, but substitutes not always have the same value as originals.

“Also, Opera doesn’t have “massive incompatibilies” as you say.”

Only as long as you don’t need to use Google/MS/Yahoo! services. They work sometimes, but most of the time you are limited to ‘lite-mode’, and MS pages tend to not work at all.

“buttons (you just have to add one to change the closing order of tabs)”

But how convenient it is to move your mouse from over the tab you just navigated to, just to reach the button? It isn’t at all. I don’t need customisations that aren’t convenient, they make no sense.

“I like how Opera re-focuses the tab to the previous active tab instad of just moving right one tab”

I like that behaviour when I click on the already selected tab. But I hate it when I read many stories originating from the same page (like online RSS reader). Firefox way is then MUCH better.

Antonio Orlando

January 10, 2008 3:00 PM

“In addition to widgets, we also have the ability to apply user-defined JavaScript to sites, to fix issues with those sites,”

I think user-defined JavaScript (UserJS) are a lot more useful than just fixing issues on websites. An example is the possibility to add sticky-notes on web pages or sites (see the page linked by my name, or Google for “opera stickies”), which cannot be accomplished with Widgets.
As a side note, I think that built-in sticky notes in Opera would be very useful (with my UserJS they have to rely on cookies, which can be easily deleted by mistake). They would be the complement to the already present “notes” function, allowing the user to a two-way mind mapping.


January 11, 2008 2:51 PM

You can make the action commands for mouse gestures and keyboard shortcuts as complex as you want. eg this is what my GestureDown does: Open link in new page| copy & new page & paste and go. This says if the cursor is over a link when I perform the gesture, then open the link. Else, if some text is selected, then copy that text and open a new page using that text as the URL and go (without manually hitting Enter or clicking Go button.)

My GestureUp is similar but a bit more complex, in order to open the new page in the background and switch to previous page I was on. For comparison: Open link in background page | copy & new page & paste and go & switch to previous page | stop

To close and switch to right, try this for GestureDown GestureRight (default for closing pages): close page, 1 & switch to next page.

This kind of functionality would be hard to find in any mozilla extension. Advantage in Opera is that you can execute anything that the browser comes with. Select All & Copy to Note. Run javascript, particularly your userJS functions. Toggle stylesheets.

I have yet to find an extension that lets me modify the keyboard shortcuts. But it’s so easy in Opera, and I can even create complex commands same as for mouse gestures. When my mouse hand gets tired, I can switch to the keyboard and navigate using only the other hand with one half of the keyboard using single key presses for all basic actions on and around the home row. (On a qwerty keyboard, these buttons would be qwertasdfgzxcvb, instead of relying on cumbersome arrows, pgdn, pgup, etc.) I’d like to see other voiceless browsers give me this type of accessibility.


January 24, 2008 10:03 AM

There is one thing I would like to see in opera and that is that possibility to be able to use the well known program AI Robofrom. I know Opera has wand but you cant see your passwords to edit them or even print them in case one looses the wand file and also the backup.

I don’t want to see a load of extension like Fire Fox uses maybe just a very select few but defiantly not hundreds I can use Widgets for most.

Opera would acquire more support if they could make AI Robofrom work with the browser thus attracting more from FF & IE7.

So opera please tell me and many others why you won’t let your browser work with AI Roboform.

Sorry, comments are closed.

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