This is a blog I have to do for my Software Development Practices subject. Its shorter than I'd like and hence not particularly comprehensive but I was forced to fit it on a single A4 page or lose marks.

Software Name: Opera
Version: 9.20
Date Released: April 11 2007
Developer: Opera Software ASA
Classification: Web browser

Opera is a little known and little used web browser. That doesn’t stop it from being a gem, however. It performs the same functions as the more popular browsers like Internet Explorer and Firefox: web browsing, downloads, favourites, history and so on. It supports tabbed browsing, which is the latest “rage” in the browser market, is quite compliant with web standards, and is very fast. In fact, according to, it beats Firefox and IE in almost every speed test (on Windows).

The Opera main window

The Opera main window

Obviously, I’m not going to bother telling you about the basics of the browser, since you’re probably viewing this blog using one. These days the main innovations with browsers are in the usability and speed area. I’ll instead highlight the main features and the strengths and weaknesses of Opera.

Opera takes great strides in making a browser more usable. Sure, it’s got all the standard features of today: tabbed browsing etc, but it innovates with new ways to interact with the browser. The main one is “mouse gestures”. Basically, you move your mouse in certain patterns while holding right-click and browser performs actions. For example, you can hold right-click and then move the mouse downwards then release the click, and you open a new tab. If you do that over a hyperlink on a webpage, you open it in a new tab. You can close a tab by moving the mouse down and then right. It takes a little time to learn the gestures, but once you’ve mastered them they becomes as essential as typing. It simply is a natural way to interact.

Speed Dial

Speed Dial

Another usability improvement Opera presents is the “Speed Dial” panel you view when you open a blank tab (see right). There are nine boxes you put your favourite websites into and the box will show a small preview of the specified website. When you click the box it opens the website in the tab. It sounds simple, but like all good usability features it’s so simple and easy to use it becomes transparent to the user.

There is one large feature that Opera lacks: a robust extension system like Firefox or, to an extent, Internet Explorer. If a feature is missing in Firefox, you can simply get an extension for it. For example, you can get mouse gestures in Firefox via an extension. Opera does not support extensions, which limits it a bit in the eyes of a power user.

As a result, I favour Firefox when developing webpages, because of its superb web developer tools via its extensions, and then I use Opera for everything else since it does it better. It is “Simply the Best Internet Experience”.


  • Fast
  • Mouse Gestures
  • Speed Dial


  • Doesn't support extensions

Overall Rating: Excellent