Opera 9.5 Alpha — first impression

Warning This article was written over six months ago, and may contain outdated information.

I’m writing this post using the first Alpha of Opera 9.5, which was released today — just in time for me to play with it a little before I go on holiday! I won’t have time to do an in-depth study of it just yet, so here are my initial thoughts.

At first glance, it looks pretty similar to 9.2; the UI has had a few tweaks, but nothing major. I’m using the shared-QT version on Ubuntu, and it fits nicely into the OS’ look and feel; but then, I never had any complaints about the last version.

Of the new features, I think the History Search is my favourite; countless times I’ve scrolled through lists trying to find a page I’d viewed previously, looking at titles which aren’t descriptive of the new content. Opera holds page text in the memory too, which makes searching for keywords a snap; a nice feature, well done Opera team. Which will be the first browser to copy them?

The Synchronise feature sounds nice, although I’ve yet to try it out; I don’t have a My Opera account, and I only have one machine to look at it with at the moment.

The rendering engine is fast; they say it’s faster, although I’ve no way to benchmark that. I’ve spotted one or two glitches in rendering pages, but I guess you can expect that in an Alpha. They also claim that the JavaScript engine is faster and better; again, I don’t know about that. I tested it out on my JS-heavy Mint stats, and it struggled a little more than Firefox does.

I’m pretty excited about the new CSS and HTML implementation; it’s now the second engine, after WebKit, to correctly implement all the CSS3 selectors. It doesn’t look as if the latest version of Gecko will be able to say likewise, which is a shame.

My only disappointment was to see that the @font-face method of displaying web fonts was not implemented; after Håkon’s recent championing of the subject, I’d expected to see them break ground with this. Still, they’ve stated that new features could make it into the final release, so I’ll cross my fingers on that one.

There are only two things that stop me from using Opera as my main browser: the rich add-on architecture of Firefox (Opera’s Widgets just aren’t as useful), and a decent suite of developer tools. They say the latter is in development, so if they could just improve the former, I’d be a convert.

And with that, I’m off on holiday!

5 comments on
“Opera 9.5 Alpha — first impression”

  1. Have you seen this list of Firefox extensions in Opera?

  2. I have, and it’s very useful; what I tend to use a lot of, though, are notifiers — Yahoo Mail, Google Mail, Google Reader, Microformats, etc — which sit in the status bar and alert me when new items arrive. I know Opera has widgets which replicate some of those functions, but they don’t tend to be actively developed — plus, I don’t like widgets.

  3. […] this present time, mainly due to the plethora of extensions available for the Mozilla browser which Peter Gasston’s review also […]

  4. just gimme firefox :) haha

  5. I prefer Google Chrome, Opera just doesn’t work for me.. It isn’t as quick and functional as Google Chrome is.