Phantom of the Opera (Web Browser)

…and no, I’m not joking, either. The Opera browser is an amazing piece of software; it’s achieved what Mozilla could only dream of — true portability. While Gecko was notable in that it would render largely the same on Mac, Linux, or Windows, Opera takes it a step further and ensures compatibility over a wide variety of devices, including phones, other embedded products, and even the Nintendo Wii. If you visit on a Wii, you’ll see that everything — including the dropdown menus — renders with complete fidelity. This is amazing to me; devices other than Windows PCs used to be a pain to develop for.

It’s not only the portability of Opera that makes it stand out — it’s also the fact that it does not suffer from the performance problems that absolutely dog Firefox in the latest releases. Firefox constantly likes to get on this kick of consuming 100% CPU every five seconds, stalling my typing and general progress in the application. I don’t have many extensions installed, either, so that makes it difficult. Opera just seems snappier, too, and it gives detail about page activity that no browser has given since the days of oldschool Netscape.

It has its downsides — there are far too many Web developers who ignore its presence, so some portions of the Web (particularly those that are not standards-compliant) appear funky. Luckily, though, people have finally embraced the W3C’s standard versus Microsoft’s standard, so this problem is alleviating itself. Opera’s UI also needs some toning down (though that’s easy by switching to the native OS theme).

It’s a great browser. I’d recommend giving it a shot.

By Jared Smith

Jared Smith is a web developer and weather enthusiast living in Charleston, SC.

2 replies on “Phantom of the Opera (Web Browser)”

Someone was telling me about Opera a few weeks ago and I was on Linux at the time and decided to give it a whirl. I really do have to agree that it was a good 5 times snappier in Linux than Firefox is, however, it quickly became apparent that Java in Opera on Linux is horrifyingly slow, at least on a P4-2.0 with a gig of RAM.

I uninstalled it because I got accustomed to FF in Linux, but it was nice whilst I was using it for all of 10 minutes. IE6 in 2000 is still awesome though. Everything’s fast and snappy.

IE 6 is fine except for the whole it-doesn’t-support-CSS2-worth-a-crap thing. :) Apparently Opera 9.5 is coming with some serious performance gains — we’ll see how that turns out.

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