It’s time to write down how I feel about Opera these days. I already wanted to do this for quite some time, but this feels like the right moment to do it. It’s also a way to say thanks to all the devs that worked on Opera.
I started using Opera in 2003. From day one I absolutely loved using it. Tabbed browsing and mouse gestures made browsing so much faster, using it felt amazing. Since, I think, version 9 I became even more an Opera addict. I started following the Opera Desktop Team blog, ran every latest snapshot and tried every new feature. Of course there were features I thought were useless (remember widgets?), but most of the introduced features made perfect sense. I remember Speed Dial being a controversial feature those days, but I loved it immediately. As with a lot of features in Opera, it made browsing so much faster than other browsers. I’m not just talking about performance (wich was excellent), but all those little features together (fast forward, mouse gestures, speed dial) made that you could get where you wanted extremely quick.
Using Opera was really a lot of fun those days. I felt connected to Opera, and loved reading what the weather in Oslo was like and reading Opvard’s ‘blog from behind the trenches’.
While the Opera team kept surprising me with great features (tab stacking was brilliant), with version 11 and 12 I started to have issues. The number of websites that just didn’t work well seemed to increase. Scrolling on websites with position:fixed elements was terrible. It bothered me. While I still loved Opera, I tried other browsers for the first time in years. It made me realise how much I was used to so many small but extremely usefull Opera features, so I didn’t switch. But I felt that the performance of my so-beloved browser needed to improve. Scrolling issues were so big Opera became almost unusable to me.
And then Opera ditched Presto.
It feels strange to say this, but I felt sad for a couple of days when I read this news. My browser is the software I use the most, and I spend hours a day watching my browser window. My favorite browser just died.
Of course I did understand why Opera made the switch. My trust in the dev team was big, so I kept using Opera since version 15. Speed Dial and mouse gestures were there so it had the most fundamental features.
I believe Chromium based Opera is an improvement on Presto based Opera in a lot of ways. It is very stable, the (now native) UI is, while less customisable, better than before and the performance is excellent. But while none of the other browsers out there do appeal to me, I can’t say I love the new Opera yet. I just like it, but I don’t love it as much as I loved Preso based Opera. However, in the latest versions the dev team really showed that they’re still into introducing great features. The extension sidebar for example felt like one of those old-time Opera innovations. Simple, but brilliant.
And now the office in Oslo is closed.
Does it impact me in any way? Of course it doesn’t. I’ve got no reason to believe the dev’s in Poland won’t do it well. But still something has changed. Reading blog posts without the weather in Oslo won’t feel the same. Reading comments without devs like Ruari and Daniel responding won’t feel the seem. I’m still very interested in future versions of Opera. It’s still my daily browser (the UI of Vivaldi is still too slow to use it). But it feels like an era has ended.
To all the former devs from the Oslo office: thanks for all your work, and I wish you all the best. (And of course I wish the current Opera devs the best in developing this still great browser).