Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Don't Dream It's Over

Sometimes you need some 80's music. While you listen to that song, I want you to think about something: the Opera browser. As an OG geek, I used to use Opera -- I even paid for it. It was so much better than IE and that was back in the day when there was just the Mozilla Suite Monster, no Firefox. Sure, there were sites that didn't work well in it, or that actively discriminated against it (including my current employer...) That was ok. It was so much faster than anything else out there, that it didn't matter.

As the world has turned over the years, history has proved Opera right. How fast your browser is does matter. How secure your browser is does matter. There is plenty of room for innovation in the browser space: tabs, download managers, speed dial, magic wand, etc. So many of Opera's ideas have been taken by the Firefoxes, Safaris, and most lately, the Chromes of the world, and touted as innovations -- that were then copied by IE. Meanwhile, what's happened to Opera? It doesn't always pay to be right.

I got news for you, Opera is still kicking butt. There has been a renewed focus on browser technology, and in particular what is collectively known as HTML 5. Apple, Google, Mozilla, and even Microsoft all like to talk about how awesomely they implement the HTML 5 specifications. Turns out they are still way behind Opera. Don't believe me? Take a look at @ppk's HTML 5 browser comparison. Or perhaps you are more visual...

Code (courtesy of a colleague):
    <datalist id="mylist"> 
        <option label="Mr" value="Mr"> 
        <option label="Ms" value="Ms"> 
        <option label="Professor"value="Prof"> 
    <div class="entry"> 
        <label for="form-1">Name (required) </label> 
        <input id="form-1" name="name" type="text" autofocus required> 
        ← autofocus here </div> 
    <div class="entry"> 
        <label for="form-2">Title</label> 
        <input id="form-2" name="title" list="mylist" type="text"> 
    <div class="entry"> 
        <label for="form-4">Age</label> 
        <input id="form-4" name="age" type="number" min="18" max="25"> 
    <div class="entry"> 
        <label for="form-5">Email (required)</label> 
        <input id="form-5" name="email" type="email" required> 
    <div class="entry"> 
        <label for="form-6">Blogs</label> 
        <input id="form-6" name="url" type="url"> 
    <div class="entry"> 
        <label for="form-7">Date of Birth</label> 
        <input id="form-7" name="dob" type="date"> 
    <div class="entry"> 
        <label for="form-8">Attractiveness </label> 
        <input id="form-8" name="a" type="range" step="0.5" min="1" max="10" value="5"> 
        <output name="result" onforminput="value=a.value">5</output> 
    <div class="button"> 
        <button type=submit>Submit</button> 

Latest Chromium Nightly:

As you can see, Opera does a great job of implementing many of the new markups in HTML 5, while Chrome .... not so much. Big deal, right? You can do all of these things with JavaScript you say. Yeah, but not only will that be a lot of heavy JS, but it will lose semantics. Don't think that matters? Well, not only do those semantics matter to folks who use screen readers, but it also matters to the most important user of the Internet: googlebot.

Anyways, the point is that once again Opera is leading the way, not the folks who talk the loudest about pushing browser technology.

Note: This blog post created with Opera.

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