InterOPERAbility

After much research and some reluctance resulting from laziness at having to download an executable file, I’ve done it. I’ve clicked off my Internet Explorer and am now using Opera as my default browser. Ü

A couple of websites I’d been to in the last two weeks had little reminders on them saying that they were optimized for Firefox (another competitor of IE). What was this Firefox? I wondered. I had never seriously considered not using IE; it came with the operating system, it was easy to operate, it was familiar. I had always had the niggling feeling that there might be something more, something I was missing. I once looked at Opera as an alternative, but its file size seemed huge to me when I wasn’t on unlimited dial-up.

Then, yesterday, I Googled for a comparison between IE and Firefox and stumbled across Browse Happy, a website dedicated to spreading the bad news about IE (security holes, non-compliance with W3C standards, etc.) and the good news about alternative browsers like Mozilla, Firefox, Opera, and Camino. Intrigued but a little fazed by the unfamiliarity of Firefox, I decided instead to download Opera. Its file size was a piddling 3.66 MB compared to Firefox’s 5MB, anyway…

I’ve found that Opera renders pages much faster than IE, which sometimes displays only white space after 30 seconds of loading the page. Opera, in stark contrast, begins to show the content even before it has loaded the page’s embedded and linked media (like CSS style sheets and Shockwave Flash files).

Opera is also very strict when it comes to HTML and CSS mark-up; when I tried to view my websites through Opera’s eyes, I realized that IE had been letting me get away with a lot. My nested divs weren’t showing up correctly, the page body wasn’t centered like how I had written the CSS to do… Everything was a mess and I had to recode the CSS and HTML to correct the problem. It was a lot of work involving trial and error. Maybe some would say I should have just stuck to IE since over 90% of Internet surfers use IE. This way, though, I’m now comfortable knowing that my sites are written with valid HTML and CSS and will show in other people’s browsers (not just IE) the way I intended them to look.

I don’t think there’ll be any going back for me. I’m already loving Opera’s tabbed browsing. At the very least it gives me a clutter-free taskbar. Ü

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