Simon Willison’s Weblog


Two revolutionary features in Opera 9

20th June 2006

Wow, if I’m not careful this is going to turn in to a promotional blog for Opera.

So, I’ve been playing with Opera 9 which came out earlier today (in a dual release for Windows and Mac, which is refreshing). It’s an impressive package—it’s fast, it renders every page I’ve throw at it so far, it passes Acid 2, supports Canvas and SVG and has a neat widgets implementation. Performance on Google Maps is a bit sluggish but other than that it’s been extremely snappy. The tab screenshot thumbnails are a nice touch.

There are two features however that set it head and shoulders above its competitors in terms of raw utility:

  1. You can browse cached documents offline! I’m not sure when other browsers forgot how to do this but it’s been years since I’ve been able to unplug from the network and still view pages that have been saved in my cache.

    In fact, this feature is almost too effective: I had to keep double-checking to make sure my WiFi was definitely turned off. A visual indicator that you are viewing an offline document would be a very useful addition.

  2. You can quit your browser and reopen it to the same state. Other browsers have been slow to cotton on to the fact that my browser state is important data—I frequently leave interesting pages open for days at a time and a browser crash causes me real pain. Safari and Firefox both have extensions that enable this but it’s great to see it built in to the core product.

    Sadly, Opera doesn’t persist partially completed form data (so you’ll still lose that half-written blog entry if you weren’t smart enough to write it in a text editor and paste it in at the last moment) but it’s still a huge improvement over the rest.

As far as I can tell those two features have been in Opera since before the current release, but I’d never noticed them before. Here’s hoping other browser manufacturers follow suit.

While the interface is leaps and bounds ahead of Opera 6/7, it still has a few crufty edges: the preferences are hard to navigate, the text in the tab screenshot window comes across as an afterthought, there’s a randomly placed recycle bin in the upper right hand corner and it took me a while to find a skin I liked (tango cl). The default behaviour for command-clicking a link is to open a new tab and switch to it; my preference is for opening in the background but I can’t work out how to change that option (though shift-command-click does what I want). Overall though it rates extremely well.

As usual, it’s worth looking over the detailed changelogs (windows, mac). There are some real gems for scripters; Here’s the list in full:

  • Added support for XSLT 1.0 and the XSLTProcessor constructor.
  • Added support for XPath 1.0.
  • Added support for DOM level 2 Style Sheets and associated parts of DOM level 2 CSS.
  • Implemented designMode for rich text editing.
  • Added support for the CONTENTEDITABLE attribute and contentEditable property.
  • Implemented support for canvas, as described in the Web Applications 1.0 draft, as well as the opera-2dgame context.
  • Added support for Audio, as described in the Web Applications 1.0 draft.
  • Multiple improvements to XMLHttpRequest support.
  • Added support for onmousewheel events.
  • Added support for document.load and document.adoptNode.
  • Added window.getSelection and associated methods.
  • Improved handling of offsetTop, offsetLeft, and offsetParent.
  • Removed support for “javascript:” URLs in CSS.
  • Pages using certain JavaScript events will reload when visited in history. A knowledge base article is available.

I’m going to use Opera 9 as my default browser for the next week or so to see how well it holds up. I’ll report back on the experience later.

This is Two revolutionary features in Opera 9 by Simon Willison, posted on 20th June 2006.

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