Opera wish-list – 11th episode
Thursday, June 29, 2006 9:31:03 PM
In the last 6 years, I’ve always changed to Opera’s new versions right away. Sometimes, there were a lot of great changes, others just a few small features or bug fixes. Opera 9 is the first one that I really think has serious regressions from the previous version. That said, 8.5 is still my favourite browser, and I’m not sure I’ll switch to Opera 9 soon.
I won’t discuss much of that in this post, but I’ll say that I installed Opera 9 as a second browser. And if I did that, this feature is the one that made me do it. I don’t care about the widgets, I haven’t use torrents yet, I had to reverse to the good old keyboard defaults and feed icon to feel at home, but, together with better standards support and site preferences, the code editor makes me think Opera 9.1 might be a better browser than 8.54.
I don’t use the code editor as my main development tool, and I don’t think Opera should evolve the editor for that (I don’t really need auto-completion or code folding). But for debugging and scripting purposes, this is as good as it gets. I’ll just suggest a few changes that I’d like to see in future releases.
Find / replace
My #1 wish. At least the basic options are almost mandatory in every editor…
Colour coding for JS and CSS
When I first saw the code editor, HTML colour coding went to the top of my wishlist. Happily, that was soon fulfilled. I think, however, Opera could also apply this feature to CSS and, mainly, to JS files, as they are intensively used nowadays (just think of userJS…)
This is now very near the top of my wishlist. I’d like to have a simple code formatter/beautifier embedded in Opera, as it greatly improves the readability of HTML and JS files (XML and CSS options would also be nice). The basic functions that it should allow are, at least,indenting, unindenting and line breaking, defined at specific tags.
An addition or, potentially, a replacement for the previous wish. A user interface might be unnecessary, but a few ini files allowing users to customize some parameters would be very helpful. Those files could consist of a series of lines, each with the tag or text to format, together with the formatting options. Some generic options could also be available (default colour, default text size, indentation size, …). Here are some of the options I can think of:
- text to format – a string literal, or even a regular expression or some predefined groups ('any tag', 'meta tags', 'JS cycles', 'DOM interaction', 'CSS classes', …)
- text format – colour, bold, italic, underlined, …
- change line before/after text
- leave blank line before/after text
- indent/unindent text
Not much to explain here. Could be helpful in many situations (mainly, for validation and debugging purposes). A “go to line” option is an addition to this.
Create new page
As I said, I don’t usually use the source editor to create new pages, but there are some situations where that is helpful. It would be nice to have the possibility to create a new page directly, instead of having to open some page’s source, deleting everything and saving it in the disk
Split screen with page
Now I entered the nitpicky area of my wishlist. The wishes, from now on, are just small things that, although potentially useful, are things I can perfectly live without. This one is an example. I’d like to be able to easily split the screen with the source code and the page it belongs to. It can be made now, especially if you only have those two pages open, but a direct way could be better, and it doesn’t seem hard to implement.
Different toolbars/shortcuts for html/css/js
I better explain this with an example. One of the things I really enjoy is the possibility to add “macro” buttons to the source editor window. If I’m writing a JS, I like to be able to click a button/menu option/keyboard shortcut/mouse gesture and have it writing the skeleton of a ‘for’ cycle, for example. However, I won’t probably use that in CSS files, just as I won’t need an html table structure in a JS file. This said, I’d like to have the possibility to define different toolbars/menu options/keyboard shortcuts/mouse gestures for at least these three kinds of files. Not really urgent, Opera 10 seems good enough
Integration with error console
This should probably fit better in the console wishes… I think the error console integration with Opera is one of the worst things in it. In this case, I’m thinking about a better connection between errors and the source code. For example, if we’re debugging a JS file and it throws an error, the error could be highlighted in the code itself. The current solution would also work better if the console was embedded (especially in a panel), but that’s a different story