As a web developer I’ve always made sure to have every browser I can installed on my system in order to test for compatibility issues. I’ve given every browser a fair chance, but have always favoured Firefox due to its developer plugins, stability and all around ease of use. Lately I’ve also been using Chrome quite a bit as it is exteremly fast and performs much better on my netbooks, which can often take a good minute or two to load up Firefox or Internet Exporer.
Opera, on the other hand, I have always used for looking at “adult content.” It keeps my history and recent searches free of questionable material, which is important in the event that a friend or family uses my computer to check their email or something. So with that being said, I use Opera a fair bit… Despite it’s quirks.
Every time I open Opera 9.62 I get this lovely error. I use Opera in both Ubuntu Linux and Windows and usually I don’t have it install for a week before that error starts appearing. I’ve managed to fix it before, but it always comes back. But I’ve gotten into the habbit of just clicking Ok to continue doing my “work.”
So today when I heard that Opera 10 Beta was released to the public I was eager to give it a chance to see if it not only fixed this problem but created a better user experience.
Despite being a robust and versitle browser I never truely enjoyed the previous versions of Opera. I didn’t like the way it progressed through a stack of tabs. In most browsers if you open 10 new tabs in the background, then click the last one, you can work your way back by closing each tab and getting the next newest tab. Opera does this differently, it takes you right back to the tab that last had focus. Although this makes sense, it creates a very broken experience which I have never been able to get used to.
Another thing that has always drove me crazy about Opera is the way it randomly changes tabs on me when I right click. I doesn’t happen consistantly but it has hapen more times than I can remember. I’ll go to right click a link to open it in a new tab, or to save an images, and it randomly jumps to another open tab. It doesn’t appear to be something I’m accidentally clicking, rather just a random quirk.
The third and final quirk of Opera that keeps me from enjoying the experience is quite often when I double click some text, or select a block of text, it will randomly open my right click menu. Once it happens, it keeps happening whenever I click anything. It reminds me very much of an old Windows 95 bug, as they can both be fixed by actually right clicking, which seems to remind it which is the right click button and which is the left. But enough about Opera 9.62, time to install Opera 10 Beta.
The installation was pleasent experience. It was very quick, and it didn’t try to ask me to install any toolbars, set a specific home page or force me to set it as my default (though it did offer the option). Within a minute I had it installed and was launching it for the first time.
Upon launching it was happy to see it started without the usual error I had come accustomed to. But as I’ve said before, that usually doesn’t start up for a few weeks so I’ll wait and see if that has been fixed or not. I was also very please with it’s new look and feel. The tab bar has a much more sleek look to it, it reminds me somewhat of the new tab bars seen in Chrome and Safari. The difference being that it doesn’t run along the top most part of the browser, which is good because that’s the one thing I don’t like about Chrome. Other than that, not much has changed to the UI other than its slightly more modern look.
So the big question is, how does it perform? According to my sources it has passed the Acid 3 test with flying colours. Scoring an astonishing 100 out of 100. Compare that to WebKit (Safari/Chrome) which also scored 100/100, or Firefox 3 with 91. As for Internet Explorer 7, well lets just say that no one was surprised it only scored 14. Here’s the official scores I was able to gather for a good comparison:
On top of the Acid tests, I also gave it my own barrage of tests. Overall, it did quite well. I visited every site I have ever designed, only to see it break one layout. A site which also breaks with WebKits Browsers, so that wasn’t much of a surprise.
- New Rendering Engine (Presto 2.2)
- Inline Spell Check
- Auto Updates
- HTML Authoring (Opera Mail)
- Improved CSS 3 support
- HTML 5 Support
- Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) Support
- Speed Dial Configuration
- Tab Bar Thumbnails
Overall I am quite happy with the new release of Opera. It shows a great deal of promise and makes a great competitor in the browser wars. Although it wont be my primary browser it will still get a good deal of use on my computer and still recieves a solid two thumbs up from me.