Why I Don't Care About Opera | August 31, 2005

I don’t want to be the kind of person that sits on the fringes of a birthday party, bitching about the host, but I really hate Opera.

Now before I start, I just want to explain something. I really wanted to like Opera, I really did. When I first became aware of Opera in late 2000, Firefox wasn’t even a twinkle in its fathers eye. Opera was being billed as a fast, reliable and standards compliant browser, possibly even an IE killer. What developer wouldn’t be supportive.

And yet, Opera never lived up to the promise. In a time when the web standards movement was in its infancy, Opera 4 was without doubt more advanced that both IE4 and Netscape 4. However since then, the move to web standards seems to have out paced Opera development at every step.

I started developing standards based sites around the same time that IE5.2/Mac came out. At the time, this was the most standards compliant browser available, and the first browser to really show that CSS based layout was possible.

Opera 5 was supposed to be standards compliant, but it felt very buggy by comparison. Macromedia used the Opera engine on Dreamweaver for the “Design View” on OS X. If you’ve never used the design view in Dreamweaver 4, it was really bad, to the point of being unusable for CSS based layouts. Is it any wonder why people were slow to take up CSS development when CSS layouts don’t even work in the most popular authoring tool. Im not blaming this totally on Opera, as I believe the Windows rendering was pretty bad as well. However it didn’t make me feel particularly warm to Opera.

Opera seems to have had a major update at least every 12 months. Operas 5 came and went, as did Opera 6 and Opera 7. All were slight improvements, but all still had major CSS bugs. If you used a standards based approach to your coding, things just didn’t work as they should. More annoyingly was the consistency of things breaking. Fix something in Opera 6 and it would break in Opera 7. Fix it in Opera 7 and it would break in Opera 6.

People are notoriously slow at upgrading their software, and browsers upgrades are no different. Due to the regularity of Opera updates, the developer is left with a mass of buggy browser versions to contend with. Once Opera 5, 6 and 7 have been retired, I’ll be a lot happier.

Opera started to become the bane of my web development life. Layouts would work “out of the box” in Firefox and Safari. They would work pretty well in Netscape, albeit it with the odd tweak here and there. Internet Explorer is a pretty buggy browser, but because of its market share it is an important and well known browser. As such, bugs get found, documented and often fixes or workarounds are discovered. No such luck with Opera.

At first I started to care about Opera. But as each successive site I built failed in Opera, I started to care less and less. At the start I tried to find workarounds, these days I don’t bother. Now days I expect CSS based sites not to work properly in Opera, and it rarely disappoints me. As such, Opera is my nominated “to fail” browser. If I have to choose between something breaking in one browser, but working in everything else, I choose Opera.

For a web browser that is 10 years old, up to version 8, and developed by one of the inventors of CSS, I had honestly expected more. Opera 8 is now finally a reasonable browser. It still has odd CSS bugs, but nowhere near as many as it’s ancestors. Unfortunately I’ve been let down by Opera so many times, I no longer care.

So happy 10th birthday Opera, but I really couldn’t care less if you made it to eleven.

Posted at August 31, 2005 9:14 AM


Drew said on August 31, 2005 9:47 AM

I think I’m right in saying that Opera wasn’t used as the rendering engine for Dreamweaver until DW MX.

The only good thing I have to say for Opera browsers is for the mobile editions. Opera on my S60 phone is about the best mobile browser I’ve come across. But on the desktop? Yeah, forget it.

christian said on August 31, 2005 9:53 AM

Why I feel nostalgic when hearing about Opera?

Because it introduced mouse gestures to the broad masses. And I wouldn’t wanna surf without them anymore. Luckily more and more browsers and operating systems are supporting them.

Seb Duggan said on August 31, 2005 9:59 AM

I’m completely with you there, Andy.

For a while now, I have given up on versions of Opera before 7 when designing sites using CSS.

I know browser sniffing is generally a bad thing, but I’ve found an ideal use for it: if a browser is Opera 6 or earlier, or IE 5.0 for Mac, simply hide the layout CSS - this sniffing won’t be broken by new browser versions…

Ben said on August 31, 2005 10:12 AM

I also fall into the camp of ‘wanting to like Opera’. On the whole, it’s quite nice software (on Windows at least, I’m aware that the OSX version isn’t as well maintained).

But you’re absolutely right, the inconsistencies always seem stranger than those between IE and Mozilla and Safari. The quirks are that bit harder to comprehend and the gains are then so small.

If we’re producing valid XHTML and CSS and not expecting miracles of some obscure CSS layout hack (or some other technique requiring a certain degree of luck), I tend to leave Opera to it.

Much credit to Opera (the company) for their efforts with mobile browsers, and they do have a habit of employing some excellent people who make fantastic contributions to standards (Håkon Lie, Ian Hickson, even Anne van Kesteren is employed there now). The desktop browser, though, is perhaps not as good as the company it comes from.

Marko Samastur said on August 31, 2005 10:14 AM

I kind of like Opera. I can’t really say why, apart from plethora options that seem just nice to me, but I still do.

I don’t design for it though. I try to make whatever I do work in latest and that’s it. Still, sometimes even that is hard.

Faruk Ateş said on August 31, 2005 10:30 AM


My main issue with Opera, though, is its interface. I HATE HATE HATE their interface, I find it absolutely horrible and unusable and I can’t stand the way it works. The workflow of the thing is dreadful, aggrevating and highly illogical.

Molly E. Holzschlag said on August 31, 2005 11:08 AM

I have to disagree somewhat. While I agree that Opera has pretty much failed as a desktop browser, as Drew points out, it’s a fantastic mobile browser.

What’s more, there are some excellent features within Opera that I wish other browsers would adopt. Opera has OperaShow, which allows for CSS based slide shows. Opera has the small screen interface, which enables desktop testing for wireless development. It has the zoom feature. It has newsfeeds, IRC and email all built in. It allows full screen viewing (hello, Safari?)

So, while the desktop interface is problematic and unattractive to some people, and certainly while there are Opera bugs that are frustrating to contend with IF you have to support Opera (which most people do not due to low usage) the fact remains that Opera has offered great ideas to our community that other browsers could really take some inspiration from.

Just that Opera has survived 10 years in an industry this young and this unstable is astonishing on its own.

I do care that Opera makes it to 11. Very very much. And if you’ve ever had to do mobile development, it’ll be very quickly clear as to where Opera’s true strength ultimately lies, and where they will find new growth and directions.

Guy Carberry said on August 31, 2005 11:48 AM

I love Opera’s interface - much better than firefox (easier tabs, nice way of getting ‘home’). The only thing that ever really annoyed me was the text ads which you can currently remove for free! The current version of Opera is much better at CSS and DOM compliance and i really rate it as a mobile browser. I think it will age nicely. Don’t give up on it!

Andy Budd said on August 31, 2005 12:34 PM

No Molly, you are absolutely right. Opera’s mobile browser is excellent. I didn’t mean to wish ill on the company its self. What I probably should have said is that I don’t care if Opera’s desktop browser makes it to version 9.

One thing I find intriguing is that while people are happy to forgive Opera for features over standards compliance, those are the very same accusation people use to beat up Internet Explorer with.

Jason said on August 31, 2005 1:25 PM

I pretty much agree with most of what’s been said here. Opera has been a little buggy, but their desktop community has been typically much quicker to upgrade to new browser realeases than others.

I think the real thing to question here is why, after years of charging for ad-free browsers, do they decide to give a free unlock key away now? 10 year anniversaries are a big deal for sure, but most tech companies don’t give stuff away because of them. Possibly a marketing stunt to create goodwill for the failed Swim the CEO promised earlier this year? Or maybe they are wanting more people exposed to small screen mode to strengthen their mobile browsing position…

Constantine said on August 31, 2005 2:52 PM

Hey, Andy, what’s wrong with you? Why do you talk about Opera 5, the very dead and old browser? Why dont you discuss the lack of CSS support in IE3, or bugs in early Firefox/bird betas?

Opera became the absolutely best browser since it reached 7+ version. That’s the point of value.

No other browser can beat Opera 8 as for today - full CSS 2 support, resizable pages, mouse gestures, rss, tabs, http/ftp/torrent - download manager, fully configurable and skinnable UI. And Opera is faster than IE, FF or NN8, and way faster than Maxton/Avant or FF plugged to match Opera features.

Patrick Cote said on August 31, 2005 3:13 PM

Andy, I agree with you 100%. I have tried to work with Opera for years, but constantly had to fight peculiar display problems that were unique to it—in other words, I could get everything looking good and working in everything else that counted. But when it came time to test Opera something would be wrong and fixing it (if possible) would be a major headache. I dropped Opera support a year ago.

Maybe I’ll come back to it at some point, but not now.

Jay Reding said on August 31, 2005 3:21 PM

I don’t get Opera. A layout that works fine in Firefox, Safari, and even IE will look horrid in Opera - elements are tens of pixels out of place from where they should be. So long as Opera makes developers go through extra hoops to make something look right - especially when their code is already semantic and perfectly valid - is not going to endear the browser to anyone.

That and the fact that Opera doesn’t support NTLM authentication makes it virtually useless for any office that’s stuck behind a Microsoft firewall.

If Opera can fix its default stylesheet so that layouts don’t break, then it would be a nice browser. But when every other browser parses the same code and Opera is the only one that doesn’t get it right, then they have a problem. Don’t get me wrong, Opera 8 has some nice features, but I already have enough frustrations in my job without having to deal with yet another quirky browser.

Michael Heilemann said on August 31, 2005 3:35 PM

Opera became the absolutely best browser since it reached 7+ version.

Constantine, that’s your point of view. Like Andy, I really can’t stand Opera either.

Dave Child said on August 31, 2005 3:44 PM

But when every other browser parses the same code and Opera is the only one that doesn’t get it right, then they have a problem.

My guess would be that you’re making the same mistake as most designers who have problems with Opera, Jay. The vast majority of the time, when someone has a problem with CSS, and it’s Opera that’s behaving differently, the cause is the DTD being used. Firefox and IE both slip into quirks (or semi-quirks) mode when faced with a valid DTD without a URL. Opera does not. Try a full, valid, DTD when writing sites using CSS. You’ll find Opera (at least, recent versions - by Opera’s own admission CSS support sucked before 6 and only became competent with 7) and Firefox behaving the same, correct, way - and IE playing up.

Matthew Steiner said on August 31, 2005 4:46 PM

The only really good thing about Opera is that it supports the media=handheld stylesheet view or it allows you to view what a site would look like on a PDA. Otherwise I find it irritating that a site works fine in IE and Firefox and still has issues in Opera.

Andy Budd said on August 31, 2005 6:04 PM

I can assure that that I’m using a full and valid DTD, and coding my HTML/CSS correctly. My pages render fine in Safari, Firefox, Moz, Netscape and even IE after some hacking. However they rarely work in Opera.

kost said on August 31, 2005 8:11 PM

It looks like you talkin about Opera 6 or earlie. In Opera 7 and 8 I didn’t ever see any problems with CSS-layouts.

In FF thera are more problems, I think.

eric pan said on August 31, 2005 8:28 PM

Dave Child does illuminate an important point though, Andy: it’s quite possible the weak link is not Opera, it’s you.

Coding with web standards isn’t a deterministic process. My guess is that you’re routinely used to using techniques that aren’t rendered consistently between Opera and Firefox. Heavy reliance on browser stylesheet default values might be a contributing factor. Without evidence of the specific layout problems you mention, however, it is difficult to bring other evidence to the table.

I am pretty used to designs working “out of the box” with Opera.

(“the box” does not imply a wholesale manufacturer, a.k.a. templating system; these are designs built from the ground up.)

That is not to say that Opera is without bugs—even outrageous ones. See bluebeat.com for a very buggy—actually outright unusable—handling of links close to linebreaks close to other links. In Opera 8.02 and many versions prior (original offending build unknown), link A + automatic newline + link B = link B across entire span of text. What’s worse, if there is a background color on link A, the background color obscures the content text (see customize > style > nights in white satin), making it unreadable. Though this happens only with certain (fully-validating) positioning methods, it is, quite simply, unacceptable.

In which case such a scenario prompts me to draw the same conclusion as you, Andy: I’m not going to bother fixing it.

But Opera ain’t that bad. I’d recommend it over the Microsoft browser any day, and I’ll wager Opera has the better browser when IE7 debuts. Both developers and users will find a better experience there. Your hatred for Opera sounds, at best, unreasonable with a sprinkle of uninformed (perhaps revisiting some of the fundamentals of coding for the web are in order; we all need refreshers from time to time) and, at worst, an unsportsmanly grudge-laden case of petulance.

Patrick said on August 31, 2005 9:53 PM

I completely disagree. It´s by far the fastest and best-to-use browser I´ve come across. Firefox is a pain - it locks our UI when a page is loading (at least sometimes), you have to use dozens of extensions to get anywhere near Opera´s feature set (even the feature set I use) - and btw it´s got plenty of CSS bugs itself. Or JS bugs. FF got serious performance issues with CSS - heavy pages; What I like about FF is it´s support of CSS3 selectors. But I have high hopes for Opera progress - ´cause at least they don´t stick to their old bugs, they consistantly improve the browser.

IMHO Opera is the only browser with which you can “surf” on the Internet - not just browse.

And regarding Layout´s I´ve found that once a Layout works in Opera (8 eg) it works pretty well for any CSS - compliant browser. Only IE is lacking.

And why bother about Opera 7 & 6? Opera Users are upgrading way faster…

Federico said on August 31, 2005 10:10 PM

Why instead of organizing another Opera fanboys vs Firefox zealots holy war dont you report what bugs are annoying to you at Top 10 Rendering Engine Bugs ? By the way, Firefox has also braindead bugs .

David said on August 31, 2005 10:35 PM

You’re so right, Andy…
Try this in Opera8:


And resize the window diagonally first, then horizontally only, then vertically only. I mean, what the fuck?

Tom said on August 31, 2005 10:40 PM

I used to use Opera loads and then they got to 7.5. Instead of a small browser and email client, Opera wanted to chat and do other things.

If your ever using it on a forum or community then you have to keep doing a “force refresh” because of it’s over zealous cache.

It has had some innovation, SVG, Voice, SSR and yea its super fast but I find Firefox better for reasons I dont notice.

Faruk Ateş said on August 31, 2005 10:44 PM


in all fairness, people complain about Microsoft shipping Windows with IE as default browser, but nobody complains about Apple shipping OS X with Safari as default browser.

While I’ve argumented against that (thus, in favor of Apple) myself before, you must admit that there’s skewed behaviour on all sides of the “fence” going on here.

Gerard McGarry said on August 31, 2005 10:45 PM

Before I switched to FireFox, I used Opera as a primary browser.

Features such as mouse gestures, saved sessions (imagine returning to your browser after a day or two and it remembers all the tabs you had open and the history of each tab), and the little-known widget that reopens a tab after you accidentally close it!

Still, the ad-supported thing irritated me, and after looking at my website stats I realised it had so little market share as to not be worth looking at. Certainly wouldn’t be my primary concern when testing a website.

graste said on August 31, 2005 10:46 PM

I rather disagree. I have to admit though, that I don’t know Opera versions prior 7.xx or Opera on the Mac. But the UI (on Windows) is the most customizable UI that I know of and the feature set is quite complete in comparison to other browsers. I feel handicapped when using other browsers (even firefox).
And as frederico stated: bugs can be reported in the Opera bug tracking system or per email etc. to some developers. ;)

graste said on August 31, 2005 10:52 PM

Tom wrote:
“If your ever using it on a forum or community then you have to keep doing a “force refresh? because of it’s over zealous cache.”

You can turn the checking of documents to “always” and all your “problems” are gone. Please tell me that there is more than this to “hate” Opera. :D
I have to admit, that I don’t like the attitude of the article. Btw. I don’t think that Operas rendering engine was used in Macromedia before Version MX.

reservedJoeski said on August 31, 2005 11:24 PM

Well if knowones going to stick up for Opera and just follow the crowd then i might have to put in my 2 cents worth…first of all I find Opera7.1 the most easy to use browser…none of that IE or Firefox crap. I’ve used all 3 browsers on my computer and I found that opera was the easiest and quickest to use… now as i say “quickest” your all probably saying “this guy has no idea” but I stick by what i say, pages load faster in opera,
No one likes a bully..ESPECIALLY when he’s at a birthday hyped up on red quartial and cake so lets all play nice and get along


Patrick said on September 1, 2005 12:15 AM

Other’s seem to be able to get past this, but I dismiss Opera immediately due to the ads. I have no interest in seeing those ads - I find them intrusive. So why in the world would I use a browser that has ads when I can get a comperable browser for free? I just don’t get it. Opera has a few features I like, but they’re not worth the price of admission…

And I know they gave away a bunch of free keys but that’s over:

Opera Site:
Cheers guys, it was a blast! Millions of people (literally) got their free registration code at our party, but the offer is now over.

We’re inundated with advertising everywhere we go. I’m not going to volunteer for more.

Emrah BASKAYA said on September 1, 2005 12:43 AM

Opera is my favourite browser. Opera 5 and 6 on desktop are long gone. Opera 7 was better, Opera 8 is best. Why bring up bad memories? Users of Opera has always been good at updating their Opera to the latest version, why scare new people away from this really good browser? I am a javascript programmer myself, and I found more times having to work around Firefox problems than with Opera (on Firefox, is onscroll still not being fired up when key-scrolling or mousewheel scrolling??)

Molly Holzschlag said on September 1, 2005 2:19 AM

Andy wrote:

One thing I find intriguing is that while people are happy to forgive Opera for features over standards compliance, those are the very same accusation people use to beat up Internet Explorer with.

Well sure, Andy, because Opera isn’t sitting on 90 some-odd percent of desktops! However, if I might give a bit of a hurrah to Opera and Microsoft and WaSP here - these are all issues that are being addressed.

For the record, Hakon Lie and Ian Hickson - who both work for Opera, created the acid2 test, which is proving to be very valuable for everyone, including Opera itself, who has to eat their own dog food as it were, and pass their own test, which to date they do not.

While Microsoft says they’re not using the acid2 test as a primary benchmark, they have committed publicly to correcting a slew of bugs and implementing CSS more explicitly.

Browsers, as the Web, as each of us as individuals are in an evolutionary phase. I advocate patience, something I’m not much good at - but that I know is more virtuous than I’ve ever been ;-)

In the meantime, I remain a supporter of Opera’s efforts and very happy of their successes where they’ve earned them.

James said on September 1, 2005 7:22 AM

I can’t help but agree with you as well Andy. Opera is very fast, I’ll give it that - but the UI annoys me (as others have said). And in this day and age, there’s no way I’m paying for a browser, or using one with banner ads. The 10th birthday give away was a nice stunt, but what can I say - I love Firefox. It has bugs for sure, but the wealth of extensions are to die for. I don’t know how I developed before the web developers toolbar - it’s awesome.

Dustin Wilson said on September 1, 2005 3:17 PM

I’ll have to disagree with you there, Andy. I’ve made, as it seems, standards-compliant websites for about as long as you have (I started right around IE 5.2/Mac came out, too), but I’ve never had any significant problems with Opera’s CSS support.

I will have to admit that I didn’t even like or want to touch Opera until version 7 came out, and by then they had fixed a load of the problems I had a gripe with. Before I knew it I was using Opera as my browser-of-choice. I use a combination of Opera and Safari on my mac because both are fast. While I have Firefox installed on both machines I don’t use it that much, only to test my layouts and random webpages. I like the browser. It’s a very good browser, but it’s just too slow. Perhaps I’ve been spoiled by Opera and Safari’s speed. That’s probably it.

If Opera’s initial interface bugs you, then change it. It annoys me to no end, but guess what? I changed it. The new default interface isn’t as obtrusive as previous ones, but Opera does need to show what the browser’s interface can do and what you can do to change it.

I think the best way to support Opera is to support the newest versions. I’m an Opera user and that’s what I do. I only support the newest Firefox as well. I know people don’t update that often, but the vast majority of users of Firefox and Opera do at the current time, so there’s not much harm in thinking that way. It’s part of the joy of being a user of both of those browsers… it’s updated and improved upon often.

I don’t have any problems with CSS in Opera, so I’d love to see some examples. You’re not the first one to gripe about CSS support in Opera, so I might be missing out on some problems. No one that I’ve noticed, including yourself, have given any examples of CSS that doesn’t work properly in Opera. I’ll be glad to submit a bug report on any bugs found in CSS on Opera or even Firefox and Safari that I see because I support them all, even if I do prefer one browser over the rest.

Patrick said on September 1, 2005 3:54 PM

Btw Opera has had a simple Auto-Update feature added recently - now “old” Opera browsers will be even more scarce.

My favorite Opera setup is:
Breeze Simplified Skin
Webdev Menu & Toolbar

http://nontroppo.org/wiki/Opera is the best place (by far) to start.

James Adcott said on September 1, 2005 5:30 PM

Sorry, but I couldn’t disagree more. You and I appear to have had completely different experiences.

I’d like to think my knowledge and use of CSS is easily at an advanced level. From where I’ve been sitting, Opera has been consistently excellent in it’s CSS support since version 7 and is the browser I have the least number of problems with.

I’m genuinely curious what problems you’ve had, especially in versions released over the past 2 years.

Superfluid said on September 1, 2005 5:38 PM

Andy here doesn’t care at all about Opera - that’s why he rambled on for a whole page about it. Psh.

Gooooo Firefox fanboys! :rolls eyes:

Kelson said on September 1, 2005 5:52 PM

Anyone else find the assumption that, because Andy doesn’t like Opera he must be a “Firefox fanboy” a bit… well… presumptious?

Tim said on September 1, 2005 8:12 PM

I’d really, really like to see where Andy’s problems with Opera come from. IME, Opera has THE best CSS support - that’s not to say that the stylesheets I write don’t have any “Opera hack” comments inside, but they’re far from being that common (at least compared to the number of “IE hack” and “Firefox hack” declarations). All browsers have bugs. Period.

Let’s not make this into a flamefest and let’s try and see what’s wrong with Andy’s sites. It could be bugs in Opera or it could be some easily solvable CSS quirks (again, IME, it’s probably the latter).

Superfluid said on September 2, 2005 4:54 AM

Only a FF fanboy would devote a whole page to why they “don’t care about Opera.”

Don’t be naive.

brothercake said on September 2, 2005 5:06 AM

Where else are you going to find a browser that natively supports SVG, XHTML+Voice, “projection”, “handheld, and “aural” CSS? Not to mention mouse gestures, complete control over the layout and UI behaviors, user-scripting, a host of developer features like easily-switchable support for images, styles and scripting … [I could go on]

And you’re worried about a few CSS glitches? All browsers have CSS glitches, including Firefox, and Opera implements useful chunks of CSS that nobody else does - such as the afformentioned media, content: on non-pseudo elements, a whole plethora of display styles, and CSS counters :p

Silke Schümann said on September 2, 2005 8:16 AM

I wouldn’t blame Opera for a buggy display but blame you for buggy CSS.

top, left, right and bottom are positioning-Rules.

You just can’t combine opposing rules. You either position your box left 10% oder right zero

You can either position your box top 10% off the rim of your parent element or bottom zero.

try it this way:
position: absolute;

James Adcott said on September 2, 2005 7:32 PM


You just can’t combine opposing rules.

Yes you can. The hight/width should be calculated as the difference betweent the two values.

For the most part, opera does this correctly. Although, in the example David gave Opera does not redraw when the window is resized vertically. - It is a bug, though hardly significant, in my opinion.

The example you gave is incorrect. Absolutely positioned elements shrink to fit their contents, so margins specified on one side will rarely do anything. (try it!)

Dalibor said on September 3, 2005 1:11 AM

Little things make the life easier. That’s where Opera is strong. It may be not a perfect browser but it has so much little things. Custom CSSes, gimmicks, it knows WML, small screen rendering etc. etc. I use IE, NN, FF for testing but Opera is my main browser since ver 7 came up.

minghong said on September 3, 2005 11:43 AM

According the my experience, the level of (X)HTML/CSS/JavaScript support for the various browsers: Mozilla/Firefox (Moz) > Opera > Safari (WebCore) > Konqueror (KHTML).

One of the problem in Opera (and Safari as well) is that you simply can’t style the form controls as you like. e.g. It doesn’t obey the padding set in CSS.

Take a look of my website (URL: minghong dot f2g dot net [your blog said that the URL is “questionable”]) in these browsers and you’ll notice the differences.

James said on September 3, 2005 4:28 PM

If you all wouldn’t mind a couple of comments from someone who is just a user, not a web site designer:

1) Maybe the real problem with standards compliance is that you folks keep changing the standards. You had HTML, and just when browsers were getting to the point of handling that well, you add CSS and PHP and gawd knows what other globs of alphabet soup to the mix.

2) I don’t really care about your artistic stylesheet designs and all that. I just want the information on the web page, presented in a format I can read. (Large white text on a black background, and a minimum of icons.) One of the things I like about Opera is that it (mostly) lets me override all of the author styles, and use my own. Yeah, guys, all your hard work gets tossed :-)

Svein Kåre said on September 4, 2005 2:23 AM

I have absolutely no problems with Opera; love to use it, and after I changed the UI to suit me it fits me like a glove. It shows the webpages I visit quite nice for the most of the time - and when it doesn’t it often turns out to be a problem with the site. (Which may have a solution in user javascript or browser javascript available to fix it.)

While I’m no expert in CSS I have no problems with it - and when Opera doesn’t do what I’d like, so far I’m the one who has been wrong. One thing I’ve learned is not to take default values - such as for padding and margins - for granted. They vary for every browser, and if people forget, well - the design elements can jump say tens of pixels out of way. (I’ve also learned that quite a few haven’t learned that lesson, and are stumped by the results.)

chaals said on September 5, 2005 12:17 AM

Interesting discussion. I must admit that personally I don’t have many problems, but then one of the comments I most identified with was James’ - I customise display so it works for me. Simple designs handle that quite well, and they’re the kind that I like. (This is why we get the CSS experts to work on CSS, not me).
But I do recognise that there are people trying to do compex things. Our work on the acid2 test isn’t the only thing going on at Opera, and please, if you do find a specific bug, as already noted, submit it - http://www.opera.com/support/bugs/ - in case it is unknown.
Not surprisingly, we plan on being around for our eleventh birthday, for those who do care. And with an even better browser.

Jens Meiert said on September 5, 2005 9:44 AM

The Web standards and/or good Web design world is not represented in print media, so there are no good mags. Everytime I take a closer look at one, at first I need to laugh, then I cry. But there are so many Web designers and developers not really mastering the matter, I do not wonder anymore.

Silke Schümann said on September 5, 2005 10:27 AM


Sorry, for being a little funny about this, but if your right, browsers are wrong.

In the specs it is clearly defined, that left, right, top and bottom are positioning-rules and margins are the gap between objects and the outer.

Which in my humble opinion is the only way I can interpret these rules.

Maybe browsers are so annoyingly buggy because too many designers have funny ideas about language and definitions. :o)

But your right, as these block-element do not take as much space as they can get. I keep forgetting this at times. In this respect I do have to appologize for the nonsense.
I’d still say don’t use opposing positioning-rules. The following is the better option:

width: 90%;
right: 0;


width: 90%;
left: 10%;

This is definitly more precise description of what the designer had in mind and takes into account, that poitioning top, left, right and bottom are rules for placing something wherever and at least to my understanding of language there is either something left or right.

Harry said on September 5, 2005 10:44 AM

Very rightly written article, it arrests the attention of the reader. The subject is outlined with clear understanding and focus.harry

Jens Meiert said on September 5, 2005 3:19 PM

Huh? WTH is my “Web Design Publications” comment doing in this very thread?

Adrian Lee said on September 7, 2005 3:30 PM

Wow, first time I’ve heard someone complaining about standards support in Opera unrelated to JS.
I’ve been using Opera since version 6 and always found it’s general HTML/CSS support to be at least as good as other browsers.

The slow upgrade cycles I don’t think are as relevant with Opera as they are for IE, a bit like with Firefox (though it’s less true now because of it’s populatiry) the users tend to be more technically minded and upgrade more often. I might let my version slip a few odd increments, but you can bet I had Opera8 as soon as I found a server that wasn’t to busy to serve it!

I find Opera pretty easy to design for, I use a lot of CSS, and Opera is my primary browser for using and testing. FF is second for testing, and tends to throw up a few issues, but not generally anything too bad, and then IE is usually out of it somewhere.

Opera is a ton better than IE, and having looked at some support charts a while ago when Opera was still in version 7, it’s CSS support was very comparable to that of FF at the time, some things FF would do that Opera wouldn’t, some the other way round.

Am amazed you seem to have so many problems with it…..

Gary Turner said on September 8, 2005 9:07 PM

I’d like to like Opera, too. The little, seemingly unnecessary, bugs that were there, then gone, and now back again give me tired head. Opera has trivialized itself1 by its inconsistency. I now develop in Firefox, fix for IE, and check Opera only for ugly breakage.

Someone above mentioned that his sites had few Opera visits. Do keep in mind that by default Opera identifies itself as IE, resulting in a serious undercount.

[1] On the desktop—I can’t speak to the PDA/cell browser.

Götz said on September 8, 2005 10:59 PM

Hi Andy,
like many others I have had not often big problems with Opera and CSS, and I’m not using Opera just for a few months. Some years ago I used Opera, then, I don’t even know why, I switched to Mozilla and missed mouse gestures.
I don’t know exactly when it was, but some time later I changed again - back to Opera, because I don’t really like Firefox, although I liked Mozilla.
So, I’m familiar with Opera and Mozilla/Firefox and I clearly vote for Opera.

But it’s ok, if You don’t like and don’t care Opera, but why are You writing such an article, when You don’t care about?

But okay, people and opinions are different, that’s life and it’s the thing that makes life what it is - if we would all like Opera talking about browsers would be very boring ;)

Rowan Lewis said on September 12, 2005 1:25 AM

Its funny, I see very few problems when designing with Opera 8 (I don’t bother with the older versions, as most of the users upgrade soon after a new release).

I can’t say I’ve had to suffer the pain Andy, perhaps you could show us a demo of Opera failing?

Seth Thomas Rasmussen said on September 12, 2005 5:09 PM

I find your point of view very interesting, Andy, and slightly perplexing. I am wondering what kind of layouts you were doing that you had such apparently awful problems.

The most annoying thing I recall with Opera since I started paying attention to it was its lack of support for styling form elements, buttons in particular. They’ve since fixed that, thankfully. At this point, I don’t check Opera very often due to its low market share in sites I deal with, but more than anything because I have a pretty good idea what to worry about… and I could be missing something, but from my view it’s about the same things I have to worry about with Firefox, which is not much.

Robert Nyman said on September 15, 2005 11:59 AM

Talk about being late to the party…

Anyway, if you’re interested, iwrote about my feelings for Opera a pretty long while ago (http://www.robertnyman.com/2005/03/22/opera/)

Feel free to remove the link if you don’t want it here.

Ben Darlow said on September 20, 2005 2:58 PM

Maybe today would be a good day to enter my own comments into the mix, seeing as Opera is now free .

My personal inclination is that it is wholly wrong to be so apathetic about Opera. From a web designer’s point of view it is right for us to criticise when a browser fails to meet the standards, but frequently Opera has exposed the ambiguity of certain parts of the CSS recommendations by virtue of its occasionally contrary rendering (particularly where floats are concerned). What this highlights is the need for the CSS spec to be more watertight; it doesn’t make Opera a bad browser.

On the other hand we have the user’s point of view. Whilst it may not have had (in previous versions) support for the range of standards that alternatives did, it has always led the field in terms of memory footprint, speed of page rendering and user-oriented features. Opera may not have been the first browser to give us tabs, but it was the first to popularise them. Mouse gestures and menu-controlled stylesheet switching are two other examples of ways in which Opera gave us - as users - better tools for browsing the web, way before Firefox began to erode IE’s market share.

One other thing strikes me about this viewpoint which is potentially harmful; that of dismissing that rarest of beasts in the modern age, the responsible company. Opera Software has always striven to promote web standards; Håkon Lie is a prominent figure when railing against browser apartheid. Even if you don’t use Opera, you should applaud its very existence, and hope that it continues to exist. The web doesn’t need a two-horse race.

For the record, my browsers of choice are Safari on OS X and Firefox on Windows.

marc said on September 20, 2005 11:23 PM

I think this addresses an interesting observation I made years ago when I first started using Opera - developers, even those who constantly harp on the importance and value of usability, are still not thinking outside their own little world.

Who cares which browser is the “easiest” to develop for? So what if your designs work best in Firefox and IE?

With mouse gestures, tabbed windows and other previously mentioned functionality built-in, as opposed to kludgily added on via third-party widgets, Opera has, in my opinion, one of the most addictively usable interfaces around. Not just for web browsing, but general Windows GUI functionality. Case in point, I find myself trying to mouse gesture in my mail application to close windows.

But just because it doesn’t bow down and automatically obey your assorted bag of tricks you see fit to decry its very existence? That’s almost as self-centric as the guy who builds 2048×1024 fixed-width 2MB interfaces because they “work fine on his computer”.

Eivind said on September 27, 2005 9:06 AM

Interestingly, I don’t have any problems with standards compliance in Opera at all. I develop for Firefox/Opera and then fix what’s broken in IE at the end. There was a time when Opera had me scratching my head, but that was before I understood CSS properly. Now, when developing for Opera, I realize that Opera is normally right in what it does, even though it doesn’t make sense - CSS is designed to do a lot of things that may appear strange to the unenlightened. These days, Opera rarely gets them wrong. And now with Opera being free, I suggest that you may want to read up on your CSS to get your sites working in Opera yet again.

Best of luck to ya.

Andy Budd said on September 27, 2005 10:37 AM

Thanks for the advice Eivind. However unless I’ve been seriously off the last couple of years and not known it, I feel that I have a reasonable understanding of the CSS spec. I think one of the problems is that, if there is a conflicting interpretation of the Spec, Firefox, Safari and most of the other browser manufacturers will take one view, while Opera will take another. Strictly speaker they are both correct, but the whole point of standards is enforced consistency, which Opera traditionally hasn’t been very good at.

I agree that Opera 8 is a good browser. However Opera 5-7 were not good browsers and my patients with Opera and consequently run out.