Two Pre-Release Browsers - Firefox 3.0RC1 and Opera 9.5 beta 2

Two Pre-Release Browsers - Firefox 3.0RC1 and Opera 9.5 beta 2

Summary: The two web browsers that I use both have pre-release versions available right now. I have downloaded and installed both of them on my test system, so that I could see what is new, different or interesting in each.

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TOPICS: Linux
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The two web browsers that I use both have pre-release versions available right now. I have downloaded and installed both of them on my test system, so that I could see what is new, different or interesting in each.

I'll start with the lesser-known (but my favorite) browser, Opera. The biggest change that I see, and like, in 9.5 is what they call "quick find". The move to combine the browser address bar and web search has been underway for some time; what Opera has done now is extend that to include searching the content of web pages you have previously visited for keywords you type in the address bar. This is one of those things that as soon as I read about it, I thought "wow, I could have used that so many times in the past!" All you have to do is remember one word from a web page, and Opera will find the page for you. As you type in the address bar, a drop-down list shows you what Opera has found, and it is interesting to watch how it evolves. If you are typing something that matches a web page URL (say, "Intel"), one (or more) lines of the drop-down will simply be the matching web addresses. If what you are typing matches some text from a page you have visited, the drop-down will include the web address of the page followed by the line of text matching what you are typing, so you get some context for the match. Last, of course, Opera will also offer to send what you are typing to whatever your default search engine happens to be. Oh, and you can override the default search engine by simply entering a single letter at the beginning of the line (g searchtext for Google, y searchtext for Yahoo and so on). It all works very smoothly, and is incredibly useful.

Add this to "Speed Dial", the other unique feature of Opera which was actually added with version 9.20 or so, and it's easy to see why this has become my preferred web browser again. If you haven't tried Opera, or at least haven't tried it recently, take a look at it.

The other browser pre-release is Firefox 3.0 RC1. News of this has been all over the web for weeks now, of course, so there is not a lot that I need to say about it. As has been said many times, it is noticeably faster than Firefox 2.x. They have made the cosmetics even nicer, with larger icons and such, and they have combined and simplified some of the navigation icons. One thing that I particularly like is the combined forward-backward drop-down list; instead of having separate drop-downs to jump back multiple pages or forward multiple pages, there is a single "recent pages" button, which will show you the complete list of pages, both forward and back, and your current position in that list; you can then just click on one to jump to it again. They have also made some nice improvements in the address bar drop-down; in addition to showing URLs which match whatever you might type, they also show the page title, and they highlight whatever part(s) match your input.

Of course, there are a lot more changes and improvements in both of these browsers. They are both significant improvements over their current versions, and I can hardly wait for the final releases, so I can move them onto my main system. As for Microsoft Internet Explorer, all I can say is, if you are still using that, you are probably working much too hard, and you are certainly missing out on a much more pleasant experience with either of these two alternatives.

jw 20/5/2008

Topic: Linux

J.A. Watson

About J.A. Watson

I started working with what we called "analog computers" in aircraft maintenance with the United States Air Force in 1970. After finishing military service and returning to university, I was introduced to microprocessors and machine language programming on Intel 4040 processors. After that I also worked on, operated and programmed Digital Equipment Corporation PDP-8, PDP-11 (/45 and /70) and VAX minicomputers. I was involved with the first wave of Unix-based microcomputers, in the early '80s. I have been working in software development, operation, installation and support since then.

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