Reading Web Pages with Opera in Offline mode
Friday, December 29, 2006 2:17:25 AM
Sometime ago I read about someone who had about 100+ tabs open and refreshes all of them with CTRL+F5 (for Win and Unix, CTRL+SHIFT+F5 on Mac OR CRTL+ALT+F5 for all platforms) when he happens to come across a hotspot to view them later. Wow, I think never managed to get more than about 100 pages (not because of Opera but because I have a different approach for surfing with usually 10-20 tabs open in my two installed Operas).
Keep in mind this post is just about the open tabs, hence pages that could already be seen before, at least on a background tab. It is not about Opera being a site-downloading-tool (web page crawler, offline bookmarks). There are other tools for this that could be integrated to work with Opera.
First the positive aspect: it is possible to read pages offline.
And there is an easy way to avoid all the trouble mentioned later: do not exit Opera and use hibernation for your OS. Just select offline mode for Opera when you're not connected to the Internet to disable automatic reloads and email/newsfeed checking.
There are some drawbacks after closing and restart of Opera in offline mode: there is a dialog for nearly every single page:
Offline mode is enabled. Can not open http://www........ Do you want to switch to online-mode? . . . [ Yes ] . . . [ No ]
In Opera 9 a single dialog is shown for each page when the tab is activated. In older Opera versions (as far as I remember prior to Opera 8.5) all the dialogs came to front on start up of Opera.
It depends on what the user wants to do: just reading emails or a few pages the new behavior is much better. It is also better to let the user know which page actually tries to load something from Internet. But when I want to read a lot of open pages it is easier but still not nice (at least for me), just to click away all the dialogs in the beginning and have a good time afterward.
I came across 4 scenarios that could happen with re-opened pages from saved (last) session when Opera is started in offline mode.
the content of the web page is shown:
- Some pages don't have this dialog and show just fine - example
- Other pages have this dialog and show just fine after click on "No" or even "Yes" - example
a blank page is shown
- Some pages are just blank and show this dialog and stay blank after choosing "No" and blank or "Error! Could not locate remote server" after "Yes" (with no Internet connection) - example
- Some pages are blank and show this dialog but are shown properly after "Yes" (still no connection!) and stay blank after "No" - example
Sometimes it is a URL in the dialog that is not even the URL of the displayed page, like counter.hitslink.com/statistics.asp...... in the Opera Forums. This pages seem to be shown properly after either option Yes or No.
note: I have set "History Navigation Mode" to 3 (fast back and forward navigation but not compatible with pages that require reload on history navigation).
When you have to restart Opera, maybe because hibernation doesn't work there are some things I'd really like to be improved in Opera:
The Opera way would be "don't bother the user, just do it" while the user is informed and has the option to have it handled differently. In other words: The user shouldn't need to select offline mode in Opera, but Opera recognizes the missing online connection itself (this should be pretty easy by triggering a checking routine (asynchrone or after a time out) maybe with some pings to localhost, gateway and some highly available independent online servers). When "no connection" is detected, Opera would switch to offline mode displaying the available pages from cache and giving a message with an information about the status. On users choice there could be (one) dialog to confirm. During the offline time there should be a permanently visible information about this status, which could be done for example with a different background color of the adress bar. The online/offline-status checking routine could be active in background to determine if there is a connection again (maybe there is an user option to deactivate this routine and maybe there is a manual trigger for online/offline mode, too). If there are pages (e.g. from bookmarks) that are not in cache there could be shown a replacement page with text like: "(dynamic) offline mode: the page will be loaded after an Internet connection is established". There should be the option to have the pages loaded automatically after a connection is established or only on manual reload. Of course email (the annoying error console) should be integrated in this system.
This behavior would probably be an advantage for Opera for mobile or devices, too, where offline times are more probable.
Well, the description seems to be pretty simple but there is a lot of work and brain necessary to have it working properly. Therefore there are some details that should be changed because they could be considered to be just annoying without any benefit to the (normal) user:
- have the option to disable all dialogs "Offline mode is enabled ..." at once and not for every single page.
- at least have no dialog when you go to the next tab switched Opera to online mode (after you established a online connection). At least Opera already improved on not switching to OFFline mode again after confirming with "Yes" (switch to ONline mode), which happened in earlier versions.
- make the dialog better accessible by keyboard: while ESC, ENTER, TAB and SPACE already work the arrow keys, "Y" and "N" (or the localized equivalents) don't work yet.
As this points don't look like being easily fixed in the current implementation I'd prefer the real Opera way I described before.