FeedbackYesterday Opera Watch “tagged” me so that I would write about 5 things that could make Opera better. This is kind of like a game, and since I can normally come up with a list of improvements for nearly any application, I thought it would be kind of fun. The key is that I have to tag 5 people at the end of this article so that the cycle continues.

The problem that I had was coming up with just five. Now don’t get me wrong, Opera is a great browser and I use it on a daily basis, but that doesn’t mean I can’t point out the areas they could improve on or excel in. Since the Opera team is so willing to listen to user suggestions I thought that I would give my top 5 recommendations, as well as all of the other things that I think they can do to make their browser stand out even more.

Here are my top 5:

  1. Inline spell checking – Firefox has it, IE has it (with IE7Pro installed), and it is the first complaint that I always hear when people try Opera…”where’s the spell checking?” Opera has to get this feature soon because it is something power-users have become addicted to because of Firefox. Come on…this is the hottest thing since sliced bread!
  2. Online bookmark syncing – Let’s face it, the web is a social place these days. Bookmark management is frequently done online with services like Google Bookmarks, Del.icio.us, and many others but, Opera doesn’t offer support for any of those. They need to develop some sort of bookmarks API so that users can create bookmark add-ons that work with the various services.
  3. Better looking default theme – You know, I have yet to see a truly amazing browser theme that knocks my socks off. I think Opera can do it, and if I had to say which theme I think is the best out of all the browsers I think I would give that to Internet Explorer 7…especially running under Vista with the sweet transparency. Opera needs to rework their current theme, and maybe even throw in some Vista pizzazz by adding some of the cool transparent effects. You only have one chance to make a first impression!
  4. New notifier – I actually think there should be a toolbar item available that is dedicated purely to notifications. That way users can choose where they want it to appear (since Opera does a great job of letting you customize the positioning and appearance of toolbars and toolbar items). Instead of having sliders, you could have notification balloons. It would be like having a System Tray for your browser…how cool would that be?
  5. Toolbar/sidebar for widgets – Opera does support widgets but to use them right now isn’t really convenient. What they need to do is create some sort of sidebar or toolbar where people can dock their widgets. A good example of where this would be useful is with the weather. The docked widget could show the current weather, and then it will expand to the fullsize version if you hover over it or click on it…kinda like how the Vista sidebar works for some of the gadgets.

And then here’s my “not so important” wishlist:

  1. An updater – I just don’t like having to re-download the entire browser for a simple update.
  2. Better support for Greasemonkey scripts – People complain about Opera not supporting extensions, but I really don’t think that they need to. You can do a lot with Greasemonkey scripts, and Opera does a great job of supporting most of them. The ones that are really loaded up with features though seem to flop in Opera and don’t do a thing, so I think they could add some better Greasemonkey support or come up with an online converter to possibly fix (or point out) where the issues are.
  3. Opera syncer – Synchronize my bookmarks, passwords, widgets, tabs, form data, and almost my entire Opera profile with a service that Opera sets up. That way I can keep all of my Opera profiles in sync.
  4. Bookmark tagging – Folders are nice for bookmarks, but tagging support would also be pretty cool. Of course, I would still want the ability to structure my bookmarks into folders.
  5. More site-specific settings – There are a lot of URL-specific and site-specific settings that you can adjust by pressing F12, but why can I not change the default font or zoom amount from that configuration screen?
  6. Hide the Menu Bar – Internet Explorer 7 ditched the Menu Bar, and did it in a nice way. I think Opera can do the same (or offer it as an option) so that I don’t have to get an “Opera Button” to do it for me.
  7. Duplicate bookmarks – If I’ve already bookmarked a site Opera should notify me. I’ve got hundreds of bookmarks and I’m sure that there are quite a few duplicates in the mix.
  8. Select multiple tabs – It would be awesome if I could Ctrl+click or Shift+click on tabs to select multiple ones at the same time. Then I could rearrange the selected tabs all at once or even close them.
  9. Right-click menu customizer – The only way to customize the right-click menu in Opera is to alter an INI file. There should be an easier interface for doing this. People probably wouldn’t use this often, but I’m sure they would use it.
  10. Google gadget support – There are a lot of cool Google gadgets that I would like to use as widgets, such as the one for Google Talk.
  11. Refresh bookmark favicons – The ability to refresh all of the favicons for my bookmarks with just a single click. It seems like a lot of my bookmarks don’t even have icons yet.
  12. RSS reader support – Opera has the built-in RSS reader, but I don’t use it. They need to make it easy to subscribe to feeds using an external reader much like how Firefox does it.
  13. Better developer tools – This is very much a lacking area for Opera…but I’ve heard that help is already on the way in an upcoming version.

It may seem like I’m picking on a lot of different areas that Opera is lacking, but there is one thing that you’ll notice isn’t on the list…performance! Opera brings down the house when it comes to performance even though it is already very feature-packed. I think that there are a few areas that they can improve on, and some unique features that they can throw in to lure some new users over from other browsers. After all, if users are willing to switch to the Firefox browser what’s to say they wouldn’t also be willing to switch to another browser like Opera?

–Who I’m Tagging–

So according to the rules I’m supposed to tag 5 people who will write about the top 5 things that they would like to see in Opera. Then they repeat the cycle, and it essentially becomes like one of those chain letters you receive in an email.

So who am I tagging? Well, one thing that Daniel really stressed in his article was that they want to hear some feedback from people who don’t use Opera as their default browser. I’m not exactly sure what browser everyone is using, but I do know some Firefox fans that I thought I would throw in. So without further ado here are the 5 people I am tagging:

  1. Kyle from Kyle’s Cove – He’s an enthusiast when it comes to technology, and I’m sure he can come up with some good suggestions.
  2. Firefox Extension Guru – He’s really on top of Mozilla-related browsers, so he would know some things Firefox users would like to see.
  3. Percy Cabello from Mozilla Links – If Mozilla has done it, he has written about it. Maybe he wouldn’t mind throwing in his Opera feedback!
  4. Brad Linder from Download Squad – He writes about all kinds of technology news and software, so this should be a natural thing for him.
  5. Pieter De Decker from the Offtopic Blog – He’s written several Linux-related pieces here on CyberNet, and I’m sure Opera would love to hear what a dedicated Linux user thinks would make the browser better.

There Are 35 Comments

  1. Wow Ryan. I couldn’t have said it better myself. I use Opera regularly (although not daily) and would love to see a bunch of this stuff added.

    I haven’t seen IE7 in Vista yet, but I love the Flock theme for 0.9 and would like to see something original like that for Opera.

    Having something dedicated to notifications would be amazing, whether it is feed updates, incoming e-mails, or whatever.

  2. Ryan, thanks for the feedback.

    And Kyle, looking forward to what you have to say. In particular, what do we need to do in order to make Opera used daily by you.

  3. If you install Aspell you automatically get inline spell checking. It was mentioned somewhere on the Opera website — I’ve tried it and it works fine.

  4. @Kyle – I forgot about the Flock theme. That is definitely among my favorites as well.

    @Daniel – No problem. Hopefully it will be of good use to you. I would do this kind of stuff for more applications, but frankly I don’t think a lot of developers care much about what people want.

    @Cody – I don’t think that is actually inline spell checking though. I’m talking about the red squiggly lines that appear under misspelled words like in Office. I think Aspell uses a dialog box that pops up to check that sort of stuff.

  5. Personally, the standout thing that annoyed me with Opera is “I’m sorry, in order to view this webpage properly, you need to use a different browser”, “Your browser currently does not offer online word processing” (for google docs, something I use daily), or “Your browser isn’t supported by this website”, so and so forth.

    If there is ANY possible way to pull a Maxthon and have a way to switch the rendering engine to Gecko, PLEASE put that into the next Opera release.

    If that gets pulled off, I’d be glad to use Opera over Firefox, but until then, I’m not switching.

  6. Thanks for the update Pieter…you wrote up a pretty good list!

    @Steve: I know that there is a JavaScript file created by some Opera users to make Opera play nice in Google Docs, Google Calendar, etc… without seeing the warnings or anything.

  7. @Steve – You can also mark certain pages to mask as IE or Firefox.

    I explained how to do it towards the button of my Opera Users Guide (which is close to a year old and needs updated):

    [kylescove.com]

    Hope that helps :)

  8. Opera does have a spellchecker. It is supporting gnu aspell:)

    [opera.com]

  9. Sn3ipen wrote:
    Opera does have a spellchecker. It is supporting gnu aspell:)

    [opera.com]

    The key is that it doesn’t support inline spell checking though…which is like what Microsoft Word does when it underlines misspelled words as you type.

  10. Ryan’s right about the spellchecker. It should be a nice simple in-line one, and it should be installed and ready for action without additional downloads.

    I highly agree with all of your top 5 Ryan, except for number 3. When I first tried Opera, I was planning on finding the best IE7 skin for it. But when I started using it I just got too addicted to the default theme to switch. I think it’s far better than Fx’s, and rivals IE7′s. The biggest thing I want, though, is site compatibility. Masking Opera can only enable features that the site incorrectly labels as not Opera compatible. It can’t fix things that just aren’t set up right for Opera, though, like Y!MB. I agree with Steve, there should be some hybrid IE rendering engine built in to fix site compatibility.

    One more feature I’d like is an enhanced transfers sidebar panel. Currently, I can’t view all the useful torrent info (displayed at the bottom) unless I make the sidebar half my screen width. This entirely defeats the purpose of the sidebar. Also, it NEVER shows % complete in the sidebar. What should be done is the info on the bottom should expand to fill more vertical lines as the sidebar width is cut, so that all the info remains visible. I don’t know about you, but I’ve got plenty of vertical empty space, waiting to be filled w/ useful info in my transfers sidebar. Maybe downloads should get 2lines each, the second line being a % progress meter? If not, put % done in the info at the bottom.

    Overall, Opera is an excellent browser, and it smokes the competition.

  11. Hi, I just found a pretty EZ way to subscribe to feeds using sites like Fx2 in Opera. I got a greasemonkey script that puts an add to My Y! button on the bottom left of pages with feeds. I saw plenty for other sites, and there may be some for desktop Feed Readers. One annoyance down ;)

    [userscripts.org]

  12. I had previously pointed out some bookmarklets that made subscribing to feeds a little easier. I use an external application so I needed a bookmarklet to do the job.
    [tech.cybernetnews.com]

  13. You know what? I dumped the “Add to My Yahoo!” greasemonkey script. Why? I started to get annoyed by the button always taking up space on the page. It’s rare that I actually do subscribe to a new feed. I put the latter button on my “View” bar. I’m using it as a place to store buttons. It’s so great that adding a button is just a click. Not like in Fx (so much for EZ customization).

  14. Yeah, I always try to minimize the number of scripts that I use because they can just add to the page load time.

  15. I don’t have any scripts right now. I think I’ll add greased lightbox, though. I only have one widget also, “torrent powersearch.” I just couldn’t find anything useful. I’ve got the sidebar from VTP7. That has useful widgets! CPU and RAM, HD % full, bandwidth in/out, system uptime timer. That’s what I want in Opera.

    In Fx, I always thought scripts were lower recourse/ speed cut than ext’s. Was I right?

  16. Also, it’s fine to add/remove scripts from Opera while the browser is running, right? Then the new script choice is applied to the next page (re)load.

  17. I just thought of a great Opera potential feature. To explain it, I think a screenshot will help. In the screenshot, I am watching diggnation with a window fit just around the video. NOTE: I manually fit it by restoring the tab, ctrl+F8 to drop the toolbar, and resizing around the video. I also locked the tab just in case. The goal here is to be able to browse as normal, while keeping the video on top. This could be added very easily. Put an option on the tab right-click menu to “keep on top.” This option would only be available for restored/ window sized tabs.

    [flickr.com]

  18. There’s a work-around for this. If you’re a Windows user, check out [users.forthnet.gr] If you’re a Linux user and you use GNOME as your window manager, you only have to open the window menu and choose ‘Always on top’.:)

  19. I already use DM2. It has an on top feature, but I don’t think it would work unless I detatched the tab, which I wouldn’t want to do. I currently have DM2 disabled for Opera, since the main function I use is minimize to tray, which Opera includes natively. It would be great if Opera had tab on top support natively, as well.

  20. You’re a bit mistaken in some of the features:
    Hide the menu bar – I’m in great support for this; but you can do this and get rid of a lot of wasted space using Opera’s *excellent* full screen mode (much much better than IE’s or Firefox’s).

    RSS reader support – I think this is a bit unfair, you’re stating that because you don’t use the feature you need better support. It is already there and very usable – just click the RSS tag and see the feeds in the RSS feeds section of the mailbox.

    Spellchecker – why is this so critical. I deliberately stopped using spelling/grammar checkers about 5 years ago as certain applications tried to force me to use the wrong version of English. As a result my spelling and grammar improved. If this *must* be there, can we make it really easy to change from American English to other languages (or even better have the default dictionary be English).

  21. *Anonymous: The one thing I agree with you on is that Opera’s full screen mode is AWESOME. It’s the only true full screen I’ve seen in a browser. Perfect when watching online videos or other media that don’t have a screen size function built in. And there’s more, it’s even shown in the right-click menu. This is great because streaming video often disables keyboard shortcuts, so otherwise to exit I would have to ctrl+alt+del and end the task or do something else radical.

  22. My english is bad so sorry if i do mistakes..

    For the spellchecker, I dont understand, Aspell do it, we just have to press F10 if I remember, ok it’s not automatic.. You can use Cordial and Ospell.js too.

    Bookmark tagging : You can tag your bookmarks, just put them in the description of the bookmark, then use your tags in the search field, and it work ! You can make a note if you cant remember all your tags ^^

    Hide the Menu Bar : You can do it too. Just look at your keyboard’s shortcuts, and search “menu bar”. Delete the “Platform Unix” for “Enable/disable menu bar” and accept… press Alt+F11 and it’s done.

    If you want to refresh all your favicons, you can use AM-DeadLink ( [aignes.com] ), i know, it is not Opera :p

    For the default theme, I loved it when I tested Opera =D
    It is my favorite between FF and IE ;)

  23. Thanks for the tips Regnareb! I didn’t know that you could hide the Menu Bar that way. I always just download a button from the Opera Wiki that would do it for me, but that’s pretty handy.

  24. I have a menu bar toggle/dropdown button, as well as an address bar toggle button in my status bar. I also keep a combo print/print options button, as well as a print preview toggle button, added to the standard show images and zoom buttons in the status bar. I also set the status bar to show icons only (no text) so I still have plenty of room to display URL’s.

  25. Don’t you use the address bar an aweful lot to be sitting there toggling it?

  26. The reason I have the address bar toggle is for those links that open a new browser window, often streaming video, (which opera shows as a tab in the main window -a behavior I like) with all toolbars hidden. Opera shows the domain in a small strip at the top, and clicking on that shows the address bar. The problem is, there is now way to make the address bar hide again. In Opera 9.2 there was ctrl+F8, but that was dropped in 9.5a1. To solve this flaw, I added the address bar toggle button.

  27. I don’t hide the address bar when browsing standard web sites (it isn’t hidden right now).

  28. You could probably reassign the keyboard shortcut.

  29. That’s the strangest part. I set the shortcut to “view address bar” (the only selection I found w/ the words address bar) and it works to hide the bar, but doesn’t work for bringing it back. I decided to try and find a button, and I found one that’s 2 letters in size and does the job.

  30. Regarding point 8 on your “not so important” wishlist – I usually use the Windows panel to do this. The panels can be toggled easily by pressing F4. Then, simply open the Windows one: using this list, you can Ctrl-click, Shift-click, drag and drop your tabs to reorganize them any way you wish, or close them!

    What I wish I saw in a new release of Opera is improved printing functionality… Especially, I wish I could select a portion of a web page (images included, not only text) and print it, preserving formatting, like you can do in IE.

  31. Mygolix wrote:
    What I wish I saw in a new release of Opera is improved printing functionality… Especially, I wish I could select a portion of a web page (images included, not only text) and print it, preserving formatting, like you can do in IE.

    I normally don’t do much printing of websites so that isn’t as important to me, but I could see how that would be nice to have.

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