Why I used Opera

Why I used Opera

This is an older text, and Opera has long been dead as a doornail now, the last true version being 12.18 from 2016. I’m reviving the article for historical reasons.

Over time I’ve noticed that there are many real Opera browser fanatics on the Internet. It’s enough to just have a look at their dev blog, or the comments there to be specific. Lately the browser got my conscious attention again when Google decided they didn’t want to support it with their Google+ social network anymore, even though technically they could behave towards it just like they would towards any other "modern" browser out there and it would have worked fine. So I wrote a good-bye post there. And guess what happens? Some arabian-speaking Opera fanatic likes it and shares it immediately. You might be able to imagine how funny that was to me.

These people may be exaggerating, but the truth is, Opera really is a great browser--and straight out of the box, no messing with random plugins that each by each add overall inconsistency to the system, as is the case with Firefox. The only problem I might have with it is that it’s closed-source software. But that actually doesn’t matter that much, because it is free for everyone to use and their development team listens to the community and is overall pretty sane.

Here I’ve written up a list of things I appreciate about Opera the most:

Awesome keyboard navigation. I haven’t seen a better solution yet, at least with the default settings. You can move through links on the page easily by pressing Shift + cursor keys, and if that would be too slow, you can always search for the link by typing '/' and the text you want to match. Then you can hit Enter alone to follow the link, or combine it with either Shift to open it in a new tab, or Shift + Ctrl to send it to the background for later. This way, navigation through webpages can be really fast.

Note from the future: Vimperator actually did this better, with its ‘jump to link’ feature.

Integrated RSS reader. I’m not really in favor of that Google Reader thing so many people use, because it’s a web service and I’d like to have as many of my applications as possible running on my own hardware.

The reader itself is integrated into the Opera Mail client, M2. In its last release it’s received some great enhancements, like the ability to mark messages as read by hitting 'k', or theme improvements. The only two things I’m missing right now is a keyboard shortcut to get directly to unread feeds, and another one to open the target link of the selected message in the backround.

Note from the future: Thunderbird is a quite alright replacement, and IIRC I couldn’t get used to using M2 for e-mail anyway, yet I still wish I didn’t have to switch between applications in order to read my feeds. Actually, Thunderbird has its own web engine that can open feed items in tabs but that just adds chaos. And there’s no uBlock Origin.

It’s trivial to turn off picture animation. If it changes often and distracts me this way, I hate it. Usually you don’t miss anything if you’ll just turn these things off, that is with the exception of those weird GIF videos (which I’ve learnt to ignore).

Content blocking out of the box. Although it’s a bit clumsy, it still works pretty well, and with help of the YouTube ad blocking plugin, I’m usually able to enjoy a smooth web browsing experience.

I’ve even got into a whole another level and enabled the 'plugins on demand' feature, so I have to click on anything reminding Flash for it to execute in the first place. (Though I’ve found out it doesn’t work on xhamster.com…​ Why yes, I do visit that site.)

It works almost everywhere. Windows 2000 and older, Linux, I’ve already mentioned Android; on each of these systems you can enjoy a consistent browsing experience. And all of these installations can be synchronized with the use of Opera Link.

It just looks great. There’s really no need to change the default theme to anything else. In fact, almost every alternative theme you will find looks much, much worse. Since they’ve implemented GTK+ theme integration, it looks as a regular part of the system.