Opera’s QA Fails Truth-Test

Ok, I hate to get into blogwars on minutiae, but this ridiculous. This guy, who I believe is a QA guy for Opera, replied to this post by Asa. Of course Asa is biased, so am I, and so are most Firefox users. We use it because we prefer it. But Asa doesn’t have blinders on. He’s one of those people who can generally acknowledge flaws in Firefox despite being so close to it. And despite Haavard recognizing that “bloggers love to spin things in certain ways,” he still does it himself to a horrible degree. I’m going to address, point by point, his post. When he’s right, I’ll say so, when he’s wrong, I’ll say so. Since it’s a long one, you’ll need to click the “Read More” link for the whole post.

“If I am not mistaken, Opera was the first browser with a built-in popup blocker. It used to be called “allow pages to open new windows” or something like that, way before the popup insanity that faces the Web today.”

Well, the earliest case of preventing popups is in the 7.x line of Opera. We had it in 2001, possibly 2000 but I don’t feel like drilling through CVS and Bugzilla more than this which shows it was in and used at least in December of 2001. If he wants to quibble on this, he can show me the first presence of it in Opera and I’ll find the earliest use of it in Mozilla, and we’ll compare. As it is, we had it first. And we called it “allow pages to open unrequested windows” too.

We actually had configurable security policies far longer than this, and while this allowed for popup blocking, I’m going for a stricter interpretation here. We still win regardless.

Opera started off as MDI, and had tabs ages before Mozilla.

I see tabs in Opera 7, not before. We had tabs in September 2001. If you want to count MDI as tabs, only then was Opera first. But from a strict point of view, MDI is not tabs. Similar, but not the same, as MDI windows can be resized, etc.

So not loading ActiveX is a feature? Ok, Opera has not loaded ActiveX controls for ages. 🙂

No one but Internet Explorer loads ActiveX natively. Netscape came before Opera. In one sense, Opera was not first. In another sense, no one was first to not do it, since even IE didn’t do it in really old versions.

We can load AX controls though, as we have AX wrappers available as plugins. Does Opera?

Another Opera invention? Opera was the first browser to include the now famous search field to the right of the URL field, as far as I know.

Quite possible. But other browsers, such as Netscape and IE made it possible to search from the URL bar. Firefox separated it out into an additional Google box to make it more discoverable. Opera had the separate search box first, but not integrated searching.

Yes, Opera has had built-in newsfeeds support for quite some time 🙂

That’s one he got right. This is new for the Mozilla family of products. Opera had this first.

“Hassle-Free Downloading
Files you download are automatically saved to your Desktop so they’re easy to find. Fewer prompts mean files download quicker.”

Like Opera’s quick download feature? 🙂

Yes. But Firefox does it by default. Opera needs configured to do this, although only once (obviously).

“Fits Like a Glove
Simple and intuitive, yet fully featured, Firefox has all the functions you’re used to – Bookmarks, History, Full Screen, Text Zooming to make pages with small text easier to read, etc.”

Most of those are already available in Internet Explorer.

That’s probably why we say “functions you’re used to”. If their current browser didn’t have these features, how could they be used to them?

Opera offers a lot more built-in that you need extensions (third party software) for in Firefox.

That’s part of our sales pitch. Opera comes with lots of features no one uses, and it clutters up the UI. We peel those away to leave the most commonly used, needed, and loved features. This gives the user a lean and fast experience. If they want other features, they can add them with a couple clicks. Not only is this useful, users love to feel they’re different and cool, and being able to customize their browser with a few clicks gives them these feelings, as well as better usability. Now, that’s not why it was done, but it’s a side bonus. What’s wrong with given the people what they want? Everyone loves a buffet.

Also, calling it “third-party software” is a thinly veiled attempt to make it sound shadowy, unsafe, or costly. Almost all extensions snap right into the browser, as opposed to being an external binary. And many are from long-time Mozilla community members, and companies such as Yahoo, Google, AskJeeves, and others. And they’re free. I’ve yet to see a payware extension.

[Extensions already covered]… add new Themes to browse with style, and use the adaptive search system to allow you to search an infinite number of engines. Firefox is as big or small as you want.”

I think Internet Explorer did this years ago.

I’ve never seen MS offer themes for IE. I’ve never seen IE offer multiple search engines for IE. In fact, I’ve never seen MS offer any add on features for IE. Third-parties have done this, and there are a few tricks such as replacing toolbar backgrounds and the throbber, but those are not documented for users by MS.

Opera, too, does most of this, and it can install themes/skins without restarting, too. 🙂

Yes, Firefox and Mozilla need a restart to change themes. We do this because on-the-fly changing is both buggy, and a low priority for the developers. If this is where he has to go to get a leg up on Firefox, I’ll be glad to award the point. That’s two so far.

I must say that Opera had the “small download” thing going long before Firefox did.

That makes 2.5 points. Yes, Opera has always been a small download, and we historically topped ten megabytes. But we’re small now, which is what we advertise. Users don’t care what you were 5 years ago.

“Developer’s Best Friend…” Opera does have a JavaScript console, but the Document Inspector is probably a Firefox first. Good on ya, Firefox!

Actually, Mozilla had this first, but it’s still all in the family. 🙂

And Thunderbird adds 5.8 MB to the already-larger-than-Opera download size, making it more than twice as big! Sorry, could not resist 😉

Very true. But Thunderbird does far more than Opera’s mail client does. But again, Firefox is a browser, not a suite anymore.

I’m going to tackle a few things he said outside of the list now, too.

This is a quote from a recent blog post by Mozilla’s Asa, where he fondly remembers the days when Opera was only a browser, and where he talks more about the UI simplification in Opera 8.

The problem is that Opera has never been just a browser. Even Opera 3 had a built-in newsreader, and a send-only e-mail client.

Send only mail client? You call that a suite? I didn’t think so. We didn’t call Netscape 3 a suite either. MS Works isn’t a suite. So let’s call a spade a spade. Opera 3 wasn’t a suite.

In the same blog post, he writes about Opera 8’s simplified user interface, and how Opera is starting to look more like Firefox.Now, this would indicate that somehow, Opera follows Firefox.

No, it merely means the Opera UI people finally woke up to the monstrosity that was the UI of Opera 6. I really have no grudge against Opera at all. Hell, I played with early versions of Opera too. I remember a columnist for PC Magazine mentioning it back in the 2.12 days. But the UI of Opera 6 was hideous, and there is no denying it. The cluttered UI was mentioned in almost every review I read. And like I said, I’ll be fair, the UI of Seamonkey sucked a few lemons too. But never as bad as Opera 6.

And by all means, Firefox is a nice little browser, even though it doesn’t quite have the smooth integration of features that Opera does.

You’re right, many people say we have better integration. At worst, our integration is on par.

Lastly, on Minimo.

Clearly, the Minimo developer who was interviewed knew about Opera – he even made claims about Opera’s portability, which was apparently worse than Mozilla’s, even though I doubt that he actually has seen enough of Opera’s source code to make an informed statement, and even though Opera is available for a lot more mobile operating systems than Minimo. Why, then, did he seem to ignore the fact that all those “fantastic” things Minimo was almost doing were already done by Opera?

Yes, Opera has had a lead in portable devices for a long time, and Minimo is seeing renewed vigor to take a crack at that market. Opera was a pioneer in the portable market, so we’ll be playing catch-up there for a while, there is no denying that. But we’re available for far more PC operating systems, and architectures, than Opera is. This leads one to assume Mozilla is highly portable, and it was designed to be just that: portable. And our source is Open, which Opera is not. I’d wager we already run on more platforms than Opera. A few more won’t be terribly difficult.

As for why the Minimo dev didn’t talk about Opera, the answer is simple. He was interviewed about Minimo, not Opera. I’m sure Haavard doesn’t stop to talk about Firefox when he’s interviewed about Opera.

If you’re going to take shots at Firefox or Mozilla, don’t make them cheap shots. Do your homework. As it is, the Opera folks do still make a decent product. The C64 style sheet brought up a lot of good memories, and the more competition for IE the better. As long as there is a choice of browsers, it’ll help preserve standards-based web-coding, and we all win there.


Opera has an even smaller marketshare than Firefox. Firefox has zero unpatched holes. The Secunia graph showing a partial fix is now outdated since the release of 1.0.4 completely fixed that hole.

"Users don’t care what you were 5 years ago."

So what’s the text above all about? Whinig about that FF had tabbed browsing first and of course the popup-blocking…

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