Opera has a good reason why not to adopt Extensions. That's Firefox's child, and anyone who can't live without them can use Firefox. Of course, in doing so, they'd be opening up their computer to greater security risks, adopting a more memory- and CPU-intensive browser, and give up the extreme customizability of Opera. But Opera isn't playing its game as strong as it could be.
Yes, Widgets are great and all, but they alone can't compete with Extensions. What if you want a button right in Opera's interface for downloading a video from YouTube? Yes, the Video Downloader
widget will work, but either you've got to keep it open all the time, or open it up, copy-paste the url, etc. This just isn't as convenient.
Opera already has this capability built in via Bookmarklets. Opera needs to leverage all of their customization features and make them easier to use. They've done a great job so far. Remember filter.ini, search.ini, and ua.ini? With Opera 9, all of that is can be controlled graphically—without restarting (try that on, Firefox!). Opera extended ua.ini to allow site-specific preferences that is unprecedented in the browser industry. Opera's Content Blocker makes ad-hunting a little bit easier. Search.ini was also made easier with the search engine editor and Create Search from the context menu. With the addition of the brand-new opera:config
page, customization got even easier.
Opera's also built a nice keyboard shortcut editor and a mouse gesture editor that goes undiscovered for many people. Maybe the development team could think about how to make these more useful, like teaching a user mouse gestures or keyboard shortcuts that are likely useful to them based on their browsing habits and what shortcuts they use already. I'm glad that recent weeklies of Kestrel include a 9.2-compatible keyboard shortcut mode as well as the new 9.5-compatible mode. Avoid breaking backwards compatibility, and give your users choices. Firefox keeps two stable branches in development (1.5.x and 2.0.x), and this is the first step Opera can take to giving its users the choice of upgrading. It'd also be nice to merge changes made to a customized keyboard shortcut setup with new versions of Opera. When Speeddial came out and Ctrl+[1..9] was added, I lacked those shortcuts because I had a customized keyboard setup. I eventually abandoned my customized keyboard setup so I could get speeddial to work properly. To this day, I still don't know what customizations I had when I upgraded to the new shortcuts.
Ever since I've been using Opera, I have been able to move any button anywhere, any toolbar anywhere. There are tons of buttons and search fields available from within Opera, as well. Compare this to Firefox, which won't let you move the address bar below the tab bar, where it rightfully belongs (even though Asa agrees that it should belong there, but Firefox is trying to create uniformity with IE7, and so is locking the address bar illogically above the tabs). Firefox allows some buttons to be moved around, but the toolbars are locked in place. For being the lightweight, customizable browser that it claims to be, I think Mozilla has some false claims they need to check on.
Anyways, back to Opera. Opera needs to improve its graphical controls for UserCSS and UserJS, just like it improved the tools for search.ini and filter.ini. Opera needs to brag about its UserJS and UserCSS, and make them JUST
as powerful as widgets. Why? They compete with greasemonkey, which is an absolute necessity for many Firefox power users. Furthermore, the power of UserJS and UserCSS needs to be opened up to the common user, but this can only be accomplished once a graphical method of adding UserJS and managing installed UserJS right inside of Opera is done.
By the way, what ever happened to userjs.org??? Opera had a good thing going for itself before widgets took off, and then just abandoned one of its projects. In order to compete with extensions, Opera needs all of these extendible tools.
Opera needs to leverage these tools together:
- UserJS and UserCSS
- Native Spellchecker (or install Aspell with Opera)
- tools for discovering, creating, and managing Bookmarklets.
- tools that unlock Opera's power by allowing users to create Custom Commands from within the browser. Add this to Opera's interface, maybe?
- Content Blocker
- Customizable button and toolbar placement
- Search engines
- Site-specific preferences
- Skins (for those Firefox Theme-lovers)
- Keyboard shortcuts and mouse gestures
This is what makes Opera the versatile tool that it is. Some of these items need to have their graphical accessability and managability improved. Some need a little touch-up paint, and some are already done. And Opera already has a great thing going for it: you won't have to restart your browser for a single one of these to take effect.
With the web developer tools on their way for Peregrine, this is Opera's opportunity to improve everything in one package that really screams Opera's extensibility.