Well 15 months have passed and MacWorld has
In the latter he wrote:
And in Opera 8.0.2, there were pop-up windows that told you the browser had blocked a pop-up window. (The coincidence is not lost on us.) Those annoying notices are now gone.
One small detail to note: he was wrong. The notices were not gone. They stayed in place as ever. He did correct the other mistake, which was that he wanted the word “irony” not “coincidence”… and he has dropped the royal “we” in the new review:
Opera still [still? I thought they were gone according to the last review? -ed] sports annoying pop-up windows, which let you know every time the program blocks a Web pop-up ad. The irony of this is not lost on me, but what I’d prefer to see is something more akin to Firefox’s informational band, which appears just below the browser’s address bar, but which doesn’t pop in and out of view.
“Annoying” is in the eye of the beholder. What would you prefer:
- a “band” which forces all of your content down to alert you of a blocked popup
- a small notification window which will appear and then disappear, without taking up any screen real estate
Oh, and you can easily turn off #2 if you do not want to be notified of blocked popups, as seen here from the preferences window:
To test between Firefox’s popup blocker and Opera’s, I visited
That image is 1013 pixels wide and 35 pixels high. The width is determined by the width of my browser window. I had adjusted Firefox’s window to be large enough to view the content of
What do I notice? Well, a lot, and I mean a lot, of wasted space. There is an X over on the far right if I want to use my mouse to click on it to get rid of the band and reclaim my window space. On my MacBook, vertical screenspace is at a premium, so I find it annoying to lose 35 pixels for this alert that really doesn’t need to stick around after it has told me about the problem.
Note to Firefox developers: the word “Preferences” there is a terrible one. I had never clicked on it before, but imagine my surprise when I did. I saw this:
The word “Preferences” describes 75% of the options there. The first 3 of 4 are preferences, and they are all good and useful. But what I never knew about until just now was that Firefox gave me the option to show the popup which had been blocked. The word “Options” would be a better choice, as it tells me “There are things to do here!” which covers both preferences (global and site-specific) and the option to open the blocked popup.
By contrast, here is what Opera showed on the same page:
Even that might not be truly helpful. To see what this looks like in practice, I took a video (thank you Snapz Pro) of my MacBook (I reduced the size by 50% so that it would be viewable).
Is that annoying? I don’t know. Yes, a popup to alert of a stopped popup, Oh the
coincidence irony! Yes, we get it. Of course there’s just about nothing about Opera’s popup notifier that is really anything like a popup ad, but the irony.
But is it annoying? Depends. I find it informative, without stealing my screen real estate. It tells me what I need to know, and then goes away. To me, that isn’t annoying, it’s brilliant design.
Of course I could disable the notifications altogether, just like I could with Firefox. But the truth of the matter is, no matter how dumb popups are, there are still some sites which use them for things I do want to see. Some sites use them to announce free shipping or a discount of some sort. Occasionally a legitimate clicked link will trigger a popup which is mistakenly blocked, and the notice tells me. If I want to ignore it, 5 seconds later it will disappear. I find that a lot less disruptive — and therefore a lot less annoying — than the alternative.
Safari, on the other hand, bizarrely ships with the popup blocker turned off. It is easy enough to enable it, but then there is no notification whatsoever that a popup has been blocked. This can easily cause problems as discussed above.
OmniWeb’s settings allow for the popup notifications to be made in the status bar. That, to me, seems like the best option. However, in my testing (which was exclusively done at the aforementioned site), there were no notices of popups blocked. Still, if that were to work, it would be very good. Camino has that option, although it is done with a little icon rather than text, and there is no way to view the blocked pages without unblocking the domain. I might not want to unblock the entire domain just to check whether or not one popup was useful.
Is everything that Firefox does the right way to do it? No. Is Opera wrong here? No. It’s a difference of opinion. Certainly it has irked this particular reviewer who has mentioned it in several different reviews.
Problems viewing websites?
If there is one criticism of Opera which has some validity, it is about site compatibility. The author writes:
Opera doesn’t always play well with the different types of code on the Web. For example, while viewing a Web page in Opera, I noticed there was an image missing that I knew, after viewing the same page in both Safari and Firefox, should have been there. Opera Software, the maker of Opera, told me that Opera did not recognize the image because the HTML code was missing a closing angle bracket (“>”) around the text that represents the image in the HTML code. Opera shouldn’t have to compensate for coding errors, but the other two browsers handled the image with no problems.
That last sentence striles me as odd. Surely the author is aware that every web browser has to compensate for coding errors. Opera ought to as well. While I don’t know the page in question (no link was provided), it certainly seems like a problem Opera should have been able to deal with. I only wish that the review had also mentioned that Opera comes with a built-in menu option (Help → “Report a site problem…”
I’m not sure the author was aware of that feature. The article isn’t long enough to give me a sense of how well he knows Opera. But I have reason to doubt. After at least 3 separate occasions when Mr. Battersby has reviewed Opera, he apparently did not know that Opera had mouse gestures. This fact is made clear in the errata now posted at the bottom of his current review:
EDITOR’S NOTE: A previous version of this review incorrectly identified Mouse Gestures as a new feature available in Opera 9. In fact, Mouse Gestures have been supported by previous versions of Opera. The text has been corrected to reflect this.
Opera has had mouse gestures since April 10, 2001.
That is five and a half years. You can find this out by looking at such sites as
Five and half years. Opera has had Mouse Gestures since before 9/11 was anything more than another date on the calendar. Opera had Mouse Gestures for 3.5 years
This is not the same as not knowing that Opera 9.1 is going to have anti-phishing capabilities built-in. This is not the same as not knowing how to customize toolbars or how to use opera:config — although anyone reviewing Firefox without understanding how to use its toolbars and about:config would certainly lose credibility. This is about someone having basic knowledge of the app that he is reviewing.
37signals recently ran an article about
Most product reviews are based on trying something, not using something. That’s why many reviews are pretty thin or don’t get to the core essence of the product. The real deep knowledge of a product can only come from using it. Using it is what reveals greatness or failure on an intimate level.
I suspect that Mr. Battersby has tried Opera 8, 8.5, and now 9.02. Please note that I do not attribute any malice to his positions. He does not seem to be a Firefox fan in sheep’s clothing trying to undercut Opera by comparison. He simply isn’t qualified to give anything more than a brief “Yeah I tried Opera and this is what I noticed” review. He found something he liked (Mouse Gestures and Widgets, the latter of which have been in just about every press release or article that I’ve read about Opera 9), and something he didn’t like (the pop up notice when popup ads are blocked and the difficulties that Opera has with some sites). He wrote up his review, sent it in, and Macworld published it, apparently without anyone else noticing the part about the Mouse Gestures until someone (not me) emailed them to tell them of their mistake.
What bothers me here is that Opera has gotten so little real attention.
I mentioned the word count (547 words) which puts it ahead of
I admit that the word count bothers me. Macworld confers importance by the focus that it gives a particular app. Having discussed Macworld’s coverage of Opera with some of the editors at Macworld, they have said (and this will come as no surprise) that part of their emphasis on Firefox comes from the fact that more people use Firefox. I can understand and accept that. I do wish, however, that when they do commit to doing a review, it would get more than 1/4 of the word count that Firefox gets in beta (and most people admit that “Firefox 2” was hardly a huge release, with many people wondering why it merited a whole version bump from 1.5). I should also note that while Macworld had devoted some 2600+ words to Firefox 2, neither of them has been an official review of Firefox 2, which I suspect will come at a later time.