posted by Martín Marconcini on Thu 1st Jul 2004 19:04 UTC
IconI have to admit that I am an Opera fan; I started using it when a friend of mine came with version 6.0 and installed it to me. My first impression was not very good because the screen was crowded with toolbars, icons and things. But I spent a few minutes examining each one and removing all; I like the screen clean, not filled with toolbars and things that waste screen space, after all, 1024 x 768 is not enough.

I am a power user but I use Windows XP because I am working with .NET on a big project. So I've heard about mozilla a long time ago, tried it, and uninstalled it quickly. Huge piece of slow software (compared to whatever I was using back in that time –either opera or IE-). But then Firefox appeared and everybody started talking about it, and then Opera 7 and now 7.51, so I always stayed with Opera.
Last week I decided to try Firefox because I saw that version 0.9 was released; but I made a promise, I was not allowed to criticize feature X, just because it was different in Opera. To fulfil this I decided that I was going to use Firefox as my default browser for a whole week… or more.


I am not going to post boring screenshots of the install process and all that stuff. All I can say is that install package for Firefox version 0.9 is about 4.7MB vs. Opera 7.51 (without Java) 3.4MB. Not a huge difference. Install was a breeze, no weird questions and soon I had the default Firefox in front of me.


The first thing I noticed is that Firefox is very limited in features. I mean the default install doesn't include many things, no mail –I don't use Opera Mail client either-, no chat, no bars, no nothing. It's just a single window browser with security in mind which blocks pop-ups. Soon I discovered that many of the features I like about opera are available for Firefox under the name of Extensions. These "little" things are plug-ins you add to your browser to accomplish a specific feature.
There are about one hundred (more or less) available at Firefox Website. Many of them are the same but written by different authors. Anyway, I picked up these:

All-in-One Gestures 0.11.1 by Marc Boullet: the idea behind this is to have mouse gestures just like in Opera. Not that I use them a lot but the back and forward are very nice and if you get use to them, you just start doing stupid things with your mouse when you're using I.E. and people may look strangely at you. The Firefox extension replicates Opera features perfectly and it's even better; you have a control panel for the gestures and can customize a LOT of things. Believe me, a LOT. I really liked it.

Single Window 1.0 by Aaron Spuler: I think that one of the best features Opera has is the tabbed navigation; the first time I saw that (I think it was Netscape) I didn't like the idea. Soon after I discovered that I was really wrong. Tab navigation is the best thing you can have if you open lots of documents at the same time. The opera tab bar has the ability to be placed on top, left, right or bottom, and you can reorder tabs (aka: move them), or close a tab with a middle-button click. This extension is Firefox response to tabbed navigation; since Firefox is a single document browser, every new page will be opened in a new browser window. This may sound nice, but if you happen to have 20 windows, your taskbar will be crowded. Even in 1024x768 I place my "tab-bar" on the right, it's much more comfortable than on top, because you can read tab names easily.
Despite the fact that this extension does provide tabbed navigation, it does not work as well as it should. The first thing you notice is that you cannot move the tab-bar (that is not too important but I'd have loved to do it); then I noticed that sometimes even when you're using this extension, some clicks or windows will open on a NEW window. This behaviour is really annoying because now you have a "new" Firefox window ready to be filled with tabbed documents, therefore having two instances. It didn't happen many times, but when it did, I really had to close the new window, copy the url, create a new tab (control-t), paste and go. Problem solved but this demonstrates that at least with this version of the extension, tabbed navigation is not as integrated as it should be. Another proof is the fact that Control-N shortcut (to create a new window) will actually create a new window, not a new tab. You have to use ctrl-t to create a new Tab. I promised that I was not going to compare with Opera but I have to say that in my humble opinion, the user who's using Tabbed navigation expects to create "new" windows directly. If you happen to create a new Window (as the shortcut says) you will actually get a new window. Not really big fuzz about it, but it was just something worth to mention. Beware if you're an Opera fan who loves shortcuts.

Paste and Go 0.3.1 by Jens Bannmann: This is really a nice and sometimes unknown Opera feature. If you have an URL in the clipboard, you can actually paste it into the address box and press enter (or click "go") or you can (in Opera) click control-d to paste and go. Nice if you get used to it, it will save you less than a sec and sometimes you forget about it, but it's there. I have to admit that Paste and Go Extension is almost perfect, except for the fact that there is no such shortcut as far as I know. If there's one I didn't see it and I apologize; the thing is, what's the point of having an new entry in the popup menu of the address text box which says "paste and go". I mean it's better than nothing but the idea is to have a shortcut. If you are using the mouse to paste an URL then you've already "wasted time". I don't want to spend more time with this, you get the idea. It's a very small extension and it's worth to have it just in case. Let's hope the author finds a way to add a shortcut for it.

Close Tab on Double Click 0.1 by Twanno: I don't know why I installed this; I was tired and thought it was something like Opera's close tab with middle button click. Fortunately, that feature already exists, so this extension "close on double click" is just that, double click on a tab and it will close.

FLST 0.6 by Daniel Lindkvist: Focus Last Selected Tab: Brings focus to the last selected tab when closing the active tab. You can (via F9) enable or disable this feature for the current window.

Session Saver: This is strange because I remember installing session saver (more on this later) but I don't have the extension; and I have the options: File -> Restore Session and Options -> Session Saver -> Preferences. And in fact it's working! Anyway let me explain briefly what's all about Session Saver. In Opera (yes again!) the best feature (in my opinion) is the ability to save your session automatically; I don't know about you, but I tend to have 20 or more documents open at the same time; mainly because I start surfing and I open new tabs on background and I read them later when I have more time. If for some reason Opera closes, crashes or anything, I have my windows back the way they were when I reopen it. It's mandatory and lovely; I was disappointed when I found out that Firefox didn't come with this by default and happy when I found out the extension. No, it's not the same, Opera's more flexible (it can prompt you when you start what would you like to do), but Firefox's version did work all the times I've tested it; I simply opened ten or fifteen documents, and simply closed it. When you reopen it, the tabs reload. Now some differences:
Opera's version will reload your session the way it was, it won't actually re-request the documents to the server; if you were reading a news paper last night and reopen your session now, you'll still see the "old news" (this is not *entirely* true, but it works like that, possibly taking it from its cache, if somebody knows the truth about this, feel free to correct me). I've noticed that Firefox reloads the document directly from the server.
I've read that session saver has problems with tabbed navigation *AND* multiple windows at the same time but since I don't do that I cannot tell; I've made a small test and opened three windows and populated them with some tabs. I killed the process tree from Task Manager and when I reopened everything was back the way it was; too easy, just as I thought. ;)

And this concludes the extensions I've installed, I've seen dozens more but with these I mimic more or less my lovely Opera behaviour (or at least I have what I consider a "must" for my browser experience). After all I'm trying to be fair with both products but if a program does not something I need, then I expect to find out an alternate way to do it. So far, Firefox is great; let's now examine daily usage.

Table of contents
  1. "Firefox Vs Opera, Page 1/3"
  2. "Firefox Vs Opera, Page 2/3"
  3. "Firefox Vs Opera, Page 3/3"
e p (0)    131 Comment(s)

Technology White Papers

See More