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Opera Webkit ranting

My Little Opera
My Little Opera by *ParallaxMLP

I want to add my share to the shitstorm about the future of Opera Browser and for a reason. I've been using Opera for about 8 years, since version 8.00 (lol, coincidence), the first freeware version (in case you don't know, Opera was ad-aware until then), but things that are going on are just outrageous. I do understand this is just a preview and things are likely to change, but from my experience with major releases of Opera Next there won't be that many changes.

So I got an update in my RSS reader saying there was a new Opera Next release. I heard a lot about them moving from Presto to Webkit, so I was really excited to try it out. First thing I was looking for after browser started was how to show a menu line instead that one general button on the top left corner. There used to be a menu entry for this. And here's the first catch: you can't do that. OK, I thought, I can live with that. But that was just the start.

After that I launched the preferences dialog like I usually do with new programs and/or installations. I had a bad feeling when I saw it was web-based. Then I looked through the options, if you can call them like that. First I'll go through what's present.

  • Mouse gestures. There's no helper for that now. Well, if you know them well from previous versions, it shouldn't bother you. But for users who don't use them often and for new users it's a big disadvantage.
  • Keyboard shortcuts. There's a setting to enable them, but I can't change them. There's a help page with a list of the new shortcuts. Unfortunately, Opera-specific shortcuts are gone. I really liked the feature to use 1 and 2 to cycle through opened tabs left and right respectively, now I can't do that. I used Ctrl+H to minimize Opera to tray, now it opens my browsing history. I can't zoom in/out with just + and -.
  • Proxies. Not that many people use them. Opera used to have it's own settings for proxies, but now it uses system setting. If you click "Change proxy settings..." you will really see a system dialog. The one you can open from Internet Explorer. You can't anymore quickly define a proxy and turn it on/off with F12 menu. By the way, F12 menu if also gone. Way to go, Opera.
  • SSL Certificates. Opera used to have it's own storage for certificates, now it uses the system one. I don't know if I should call it good or bad change. It's now less of a hassle to install a new certificate, but it's also less secure in case some virus installs some third-party fraud certificate as trusted one. Dunno about that, though, I don't use this feature very often.
  • Search engines. It seems I can add them the way I used to (it doesn't work for me though, alpha version and stuff...), but I can't manage them. There's just no setting for it. And what frustrates me is that I can't change the default search engine on Speed Dial page.
  • The size. Back in the old days Opera used to be an internet suite in about 10 Mb of installation file. Nowadays it's an internet suite in about 12.5 Mb of installation file. But Opera Next is just a web browser in 24 Mb of installation file. Decide for yourself what to think about it.
  • Reviews. The only positive reviews said nothing specific, only that "Opera is fast, great browser" and things like that. None of them said that Opera became better, which means the only positive reviews come from the new users. And about users who've been using Opera for a while... Well, I'm one of them, and you can see that I am, to put it mildly, disappointed.

Now I'll go through things I miss.

  • Status bar. There's no way to enable it. I actually used it to track browser's status on some things.
  • Content blocker. Opera was among the first browsers (if not the very first) to introduce a content blocker. And it was built-in unlike Adblock in Firefox and Chrome. Sure, it was less feature-rich than it's counter-part, but it worked for me quite well. It was fun to look through source code and Opera Dragonfly output to create my own rules. Well, it's gone now. Now the only choice is to use a port of Adblock extension which eats up a lot of memory.
  • Customizable toolbars. That's right, now you can't add/remove buttons as you please. And I liked to have my "Find in page" search field near address bar...
  • Opera Link is not implemented yet. And I just started to actually use it...
  • Feature-rich Opera Dragonfly is gone. Now it's just a Chrome-like Web Inspector. Still works though, but it's less convenient to use for a web designer.
  • I can't find Error Console to track CSS and JavaScript errors. Am I supposed to use Web Inspector for it now?
  • No "Validate" to check for HTML standards in context menu. That feature is completely optional for a web browser, but I still miss it.
  • According to online help there's supposed to be an "Advanced" tab in settings dialog, but there isn't. I hope Opera developers will implement it later.
  • New tabs are opened near the active tab and it can't be changed. I hate that.
  • Typing "opera:config" in address bar no longer takes you to registry-like extended settings page, it takes you to a general settings page instead.

Now here are some of the things that are just missing, but I don't care about much.

  • There're no previews when you hover your tabs.
  • No fonts configuration.
  • No way to define how to handle specific MIME-types.
  • No "Open" element in menu. And how am I supposed to open local files from within the browser?

I'll stop my ranting here and highlight some positive changes.

  • Engine. Although Webkit has very arguable performance, it actually renders things nicely. It also has better HTML5 support (404+9 points for 12.15 vs. 433+9 points for 15.0 on html5test.com) and doesn't have some issues Presto used to have.
  • Hardware acceleration. Using GPU for rendering web pages really improves performance and saves CPU time for more important things. You know, like listening to music and chatting with your friends on facebook.
  • Separate processes for each tab. This is a very nice design solution Google came up with, and I was really looking forward for it to appear in Opera.

Well, that's it, I don't see any more positive changes.

I saw someone saying that Opera developers reimplemented Chromium, and that's about right. Basically we indeed got another Chromium browser. Was it really worth it? Over the years of coding I came up with a simple rule: when optimizing things you only made everything right when you can't tell the difference on the outside. Opera Software ASA failed that rule completely. Although it looks like they didn't even try to make the engine change a seamless thing. I think it was too difficult to replace Presto with Webkit in the old UI, so they just rewrote their browser from scratch. What's remaining from the old Opera browser is just Off-Road mode (ex-Turbo mode). Other than that, it's just another implementation of Chromium. If developers don't do anything about it, the browser will definitely lose most of it's current users.

Added: fsLeg | Date: Wednesday 29 May 2013 - 00:14:04 | Comments (0)