Opera 9.5 Alpha — first impression

Warning This article was written over six months ago, and may contain outdated information.

I’m writ­ing this post using the first Alpha of Opera 9.5, which was released today — just in time for me to play with it a lit­tle before I go on hol­i­day! I won’t have time to do an in-depth study of it just yet, so here are my ini­tial thoughts.

At first glance, it looks pret­ty sim­i­lar to 9.2; the UI has had a few tweaks, but noth­ing major. I’m using the shared-QT ver­sion on Ubun­tu, and it fits nice­ly into the OS’ look and feel; but then, I nev­er had any com­plaints about the last version.

Of the new fea­tures, I think the His­to­ry Search is my favourite; count­less times I’ve scrolled through lists try­ing to find a page I’d viewed pre­vi­ous­ly, look­ing at titles which aren’t descrip­tive of the new con­tent. Opera holds page text in the mem­o­ry too, which makes search­ing for key­words a snap; a nice fea­ture, well done Opera team. Which will be the first brows­er to copy them?

The Syn­chro­nise fea­ture sounds nice, although I’ve yet to try it out; I don’t have a My Opera account, and I only have one machine to look at it with at the moment.

The ren­der­ing engine is fast; they say it’s faster, although I’ve no way to bench­mark that. I’ve spot­ted one or two glitch­es in ren­der­ing pages, but I guess you can expect that in an Alpha. They also claim that the JavaScript engine is faster and bet­ter; again, I don’t know about that. I test­ed it out on my JS-heavy Mint stats, and it strug­gled a lit­tle more than Fire­fox does.

I’m pret­ty excit­ed about the new CSS and HTML imple­men­ta­tion; it’s now the sec­ond engine, after WebKit, to cor­rect­ly imple­ment all the CSS3 selec­tors. It does­n’t look as if the lat­est ver­sion of Gecko will be able to say like­wise, which is a shame.

My only dis­ap­point­ment was to see that the @font-face method of dis­play­ing web fonts was not imple­ment­ed; after Håkon’s recent cham­pi­oning of the sub­ject, I’d expect­ed to see them break ground with this. Still, they’ve stat­ed that new fea­tures could make it into the final release, so I’ll cross my fin­gers on that one.

There are only two things that stop me from using Opera as my main brows­er: the rich add-on archi­tec­ture of Fire­fox (Oper­a’s Wid­gets just aren’t as use­ful), and a decent suite of devel­op­er tools. They say the lat­ter is in devel­op­ment, so if they could just improve the for­mer, I’d be a convert.

And with that, I’m off on holiday!

5 comments on
“Opera 9.5 Alpha — first impression”

  1. Have you seen this list of Fire­fox exten­sions in Opera?

  2. I have, and it’s very use­ful; what I tend to use a lot of, though, are noti­fiers — Yahoo Mail, Google Mail, Google Read­er, Micro­for­mats, etc — which sit in the sta­tus bar and alert me when new items arrive. I know Opera has wid­gets which repli­cate some of those func­tions, but they don’t tend to be active­ly devel­oped — plus, I don’t like widgets.

  3. […] this present time, main­ly due to the pletho­ra of exten­sions avail­able for the Mozil­la brows­er which Peter Gasston’s review also […]

  4. just gimme fire­fox :) haha

  5. I pre­fer Google Chrome, Opera just does­n’t work for me.. It isn’t as quick and func­tion­al as Google Chrome is.