Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Going to the Opera

I recently installed the Opera browser on my laptop. Main reason for this was the fact that I thought the Opera guys gave some really good HTML 5 talks during this years' NDC conference. And they just looked like really nice guys (I'm allowed to judge people on nicety). The Opera browser is also pretty far in implementing HTML 5 features as well, so might be interesting to try it out.

So, after installing this browser, I only used it for a day or so. Good points were its speed, which is faster than IE, faster then Firefox and faster than Chrome, this last one, up until now, being the fastest browser I used thus far. Bad points however are the way it treats shortcut keys. Ctrl click, opens a new tab, like Chrome, but also immediately places focus on this tab, unlike Chrome. To open the tab in the background on Opera, you need Ctrl Shift click, something I am not used to. This, sadly enough, was actually the main reason to have me use Opera only for a day. On a side note, one thing to always keep in mind when designing user interfaces: don't change the way things look and feel for a user too much (did you hear me, Office guys?), they get scared and run.

But then recently I gave it another shot. I primarily tried it out again because my laptop while running an instance of Visual Studio, a VM and Chrome with a couple of tabs opened, was getting really, really really slow. Looking at my CPU usage I saw that Chrome was actually using more resources than my Visual Studio while compiling. Some googling showed me that Chrome uses a sandbox for each tab, which also means it uses the same amount of resources for each tab, since resources are not shared. This has the advantage that when one tab crashes, it doesn't crash your other tabs. A phenomenon I haven't really experienced yet (in my case my other tabs actually did crash as well. not good!). This has the disadvantage of eating CPU cycles like a madman if you like to have many tabs open all the time.

So I reconfigured Opera as my default browser and immediately got annoyed again by the missing ctrl click. There are some workarounds for this (google them, you'll find them), but they didn't really work for me. Altering your shortcuts in the advanced preferences didn't do the trick. And the JavaScript solution that you can add didn't work either (my clicks stopped working altogether). I do find the fact that you can add your own JavaScript code to this browser pretty cool, though. Anyhow, while trying this out, I restarted my browser a couple of times and during my last restart I got the message that there was an update ready to install. This, I must say, I didn't really like, I like the fact that Chrome installs updates in the background and that I'm not bothered by this. My initial annoyance with update windows probably stems from the iTunes app that starts nagging about updates every friggin' time you start it.

So I installed the update, reopened the Opera browser and as a miracle I now have ctrl click open tabs in the background. I went from version 11.11 to 11.50, so I skipped a few versions as well, it seems. I suppose this is a new feature, I have no idea, but I'm happy with it. And the most important thing: my laptop doesn't become overly slow while I leave some browser tabs open all day. And apart from this, Opera offers pretty much the same features as Chrome. So for now, I'm sticking with it!


On a side note: I have been using Opera now for a week or two. I am still very happy with its performance (read this as: the performance of the rest of my system). But there are some drawbacks, though. Not all CSS is rendered as it should be. My own blog for instance doesn't render correctly using Opera and when I watch my blogs' statistics, they are just not shown in Opera. Also, yesterday, I was editing a new blog post, only to find out today that the autosave or Ctrl + S, which works just fine in Chrome, didn't function in Opera. I lost my changes, which I don't like! I'm going to keep using it for a couple of weeks (not for blog editing) and re-evaluate again.

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