I do not really know what caused me to switch my default browsers a few months ago. Maybe it was a keynote like the one on wednesday, maybe it was watching the movie Terms and Conditions may apply or maybe it was that little cringing when I learned that Google bought Nest. And that SkyNet taste in my mouth afterwards.
Being a web developer, the question of your "bread and butter browser" is not an easy one. Over the last years or so I've got the impression that browser based designing and working, changing styles (even preprocessor-based via sourcemaps), debugging code, measuring performance and so one rolled like an avalanche through Joe The WebDev's workflow. Therefore, your browser, your weapon of choice must be a mighty one.
And Chrome undoubletly is. But one the other hand: aside from being very capable, from evolving more and more into some kind of IDE (look at that nice device emulation!) - it's still from Google. Meaning: it follows their product scheme: let's exchange a – nearly – unmatched ease of use against your own data. And since I do not really switch browsers when changing from work- to non-work-mode Google must have gathered a nice amount of data covering both my private and business life.
Don't Blink. Well, do Blink.
Looking for alternatives and skipping Chromium itself (for some reason I don't remember) I recalled having read about Opera's move away from Presto. Starting over again with a new engine worried Opera's long time users – but at least for me it was the perfect opportunity to get on the Norweigan carma train.
So I downloaded that new shiny, Blink based Opera Next, fired it up, liked the interface on first sight and was ready to import my Chrome bookmarks and then put them into my bar above the viewport. Well - no sign of an assistant asking where to import from. No bookmark bar. An inconspicuous menu entry "Show imported bookmarks" that led to nothing but a blank page.
What do you mean by 'bookmarks'?
By, yes, googling I found out that I wasn't alone in my confusion. Opera's devs and conceptioners seemed to have decided not just abandoning the loads and loads of functions their browser up to version 12 provided, not "just" only to change the rendering engine – but to swim against the tide when in comes to the browsers holiest, bookmarks. The mention above of imported bookmarks above seemed to be inter-Opera, helping to switch from Opera 12 to this most recent one, Opera 17. But when it comes to saving URLs from now on, Opera 15+ forces you to use "Speed Dial" and "Stash". Two things that I thought of as a nice interface addition for favorites, but turned out to be bookmark replacements.
Well, was it really a good idea; and should I've given Firefox a new chance since their native web inspector is getting better and better? But luckily, Chrome and Opera share still a common architecture, to understate it, so the export and import need to happen within the abyss of
~/Library/Application Support/. While possible, this is far away from ease of use and a massive hurdle for everyone willing to switch and without technical background.
Without any doubt one of the biggest advantages of the Google universe is to sync everything to everywhere you want. Not so with the brand new Opera 17 in front of me. Using two computers I had to "import" twice. Still considering that Opera Next was a brand new, somewhat quirky, but fast developed product I decided to sync my bookmarks off-browser by delicious until a native sync solution hits the Opera dev channel. Fortunately, that took maybe just two weeks, and from that point on everything ran (and still runs) smoothly.
From this point on, most part of the bumpy road was behind me. I embraced the Speed Dial concept, use it for "serious" topic-sorted bookmarking while filling the Stash (heart symbol) to quicksave stuff for later. The bookmark bar serves for everyday's needs such as checking news sites, blogs or your bank account, while a folder-based Speed Dial gets you up and running with one click, "Open all" (of the links inside the folder) when you can kickstart time tracking, task management and wiki, cms backend and more on arrival in your agency customers office.
All this is not exclusive to Opera, sets of tabs and also Speed Dials as the "new tab" default state had been done before. But still, this slight change of "browse-flow" while still having Blink's/Webkit's almigthy dev tools convinced me in the end.
This, and Operas new ability of being Chrome extension capable (with this little plugin) - so no need to invest time in reasearching alternatives to extensions as WhatFont, 1Password, Responsive Inspector and so on.
And yes, Opera has still a lot of room for improvements. I experience problems with native HTML audio (but maybe I misconfigured something), cutting of GET-Params of URLs has to be explicitly disabled in the settings, although this is better than strip everything but the domain name from the address bar. When it comes to rendering you better double check in a "real Chrome" because of slight differences in Chromium versions. But browser checking is part of our jobs anyway. You can change your standard search engine in the address/search bar, but only to Bing, Yahoo, Amazon or Wikipedia. Kind of ironic that this is more customizable in Chrome itself, not keeping you from using let's say DuckDuckGo.
But, given the developement speed of the Opera Desktop team this feature added and these bugfixes will be only a matter of time. And then I'll try to break real habits: Using said, currently revamped DuckDuck Go as standard search engine. To take more baby steps away from the behemoth from Mountain View and maybe to publish another post with the same title.
P.S.: Thanks Bastian Allgeier for being a catalyst to eventually start with this blog :)