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Author Topic: Opera - An exercise on frustration  (Read 5442 times)

Lashiec

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Opera - An exercise on frustration
« on: November 17, 2008, 03:12:22 PM »
Yes, you're reading it right. No, nobody took over my account. I'm here, complaining about the Opera browser, and specially about the latest version with which Opera Software has achieved the impossible: Having an Internet-compatible browser (mostly) after years of trying and web creators constantly giving them cold shoulders. Yet, they also done another incredible thing: to completely undermine all this effort due to a half-assed new feature introduced in Opera 9.5 named content indexing.

As you may know, the latest trend when it comes to web browsing history is to index not only the URLs you visit, but also the page title, and letting you search every single character in them directly from the URL bar. The boon to procrastination productivity is immense, yet Opera wished to go a step further: to index ALL text contained in every single page you visit. The idea is even more brilliant, and while it turned out it's not as useful as having URL searching, when you need it, it's a wonderful feature.

If it worked.

Let me explain. Turns out when they devised the frontend for it, either they smoked something or simply did not care. Instead of doing something so simple, like, well, list FIRST the results of the URL search, and later the results of content search, they mixed both, so you end up with tons of noise in the address bar and effectively killing much of its usefulness as you have to pay attention to the underlined results to actually found what you really want. An even better way to implement this frontend would be putting up the content search part under an alias (there's actually one), so the user could launch it on demand, and leave URL search alone in the address bar.

The problem gets worse when you see that, for no good reason, the program simply refuses to index certain pages titles, just the URL addresses. And that the number of results listed by the feature is fixed, and sometimes what you want does not appear in the results list, despite knowing it's there.

It should be said that those problems appear as time passes and Opera's history gets filled with items. Precisely this, coupled with my desire to have a page history as big as possible, gets me to the ultimate weak point of this feature: performance. You see, the search function is pretty snappy as long as the word actually exists in the history file. But sometimes it turns out it's not in there, and it's then when you witness the self-proclaimed "Fastest browser on Earth" bringing modern HDDs to their knees during sometimes as much as 20 seconds.

I constantly experiment this due to my appreciation for the possibility of searching things directly from the address bar, and it's something I use several times a day. But while a single programmer as mouser implemented an option to stop searches when the inputted string matches an alias, a company with more than 500 employees wasn't able to do the same, and so I'm forced to constantly witness how Opera freezes itself and the drive works like mad trying to find something a string like "g cheese" (which launches a search in Google for cheese). Of course, there's a way to fix this and it's typing the string and waiting until the drive stops thrashing around (hooray for HDD leds), and only then you press "Enter". With this trick, you can actually use the browser, but if you input the string and press Enter, prepare yourself to see how even the whole computer gets nearly unusable, and I'm running a dualcore machine. Should I get a RAID 0 array and a quadcore to "fix" Opera Software errors?

There's actually a way to end with all of this. But the problem is that you get reverted to pre-Opera 9.5 behaviour (save for the fact that you don't have to type "http://www." to find every address). And this is either deactivating content indexing, or going into opera:config and disabling content search from the address bar. Since both URL addresses and page titles are stored in the "opera.dir" file, I thought that I could replicate Firefox 3 behaviour while keeping Opera advantages and using them as needed. Turns out I was wrong.

You see, the only way to reach Codex Transportica, for example, is typing "codextransportica" or "codex", not "Codex Transportica", nor "Transportica", despite seeing the "Codex" part of the title bolded as you type it. A more complex page like the Recent Posts section of this very forum is unreachable by typing "Recent Posts Donation Coder", while in Firefox 3 is totally possible. So, you either bring back content indexing, or you get forced to remember entire addresses. Which, frankly, I prefer considering the number of I/O operations done by the browser to update indexes which I rarely use, and the aforementioned noise.

Screenshot - 17_11_2008 , 21_54_29.png
"Planet" will take me to all these sites, but "Planet WebKit" or "Planet Emulation" will take me nowhere.

This is perhaps the most glaring issue with Opera post-9.5. The other one that troubles me is the way memory gets released, which makes that after a while without touching a single page, switching the focus back to its tab shows you a little slide show as you see the browser repainting the entire page, and reloading the pictures, probably from the cache. And then, minor issues, like the overflowing loading bar when the page loaded has more than 100 elements, artifacts in the history panel, or dialogs that continue to be in English. Practically everything mentioned here has been reported on the official bugtracker by me, and there are several threads about them in the Opera forums. But they continue to be unfixed, and probably they won't be until Opera 10.

I'm used to navigate around software shortcomings, and bugs, but this is a joke. No wonder some Opera users complain as loud as they do, even if the company chooses to ignore them. I am starting to believe what I read here a while ago (I think Josh wrote it), that Opera do things as they want and they rarely finish the work. Perhaps if they packed less features in the program (let's be sincere, there are tons of features included in Opera just for the sake of being included or to please a really small group of users, scroll marker coming to mind, for example), and they focused on the really useful ones, perhaps they could have avoided the train wreck that Opera 9.5x was (Opera 9.6x, while not perfect, is much improved in all areas).
« Last Edit: November 17, 2008, 04:30:56 PM by Lashiec »

fenixproductions

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Re: Opera - An exercise on fustration
« Reply #1 on: November 17, 2008, 03:56:09 PM »
2Lashiec
I agree with you completely.

It is sad to see how good company became corporation with tight and strange deadlines pushing buggy versions.

PS Mouser! Is it possible to change SpellChecker a little bit so I could not ignore anyone? ;) Temporary adding thread's nick names to dictionary could be very nice.

urlwolf

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Re: Opera - An exercise on frustration
« Reply #2 on: November 17, 2008, 04:35:48 PM »
lashiec,

I have disabled that fancy indexing. It works ok without it. you have to go to opera:config and do a search for suggestions or something like that.

But I agree Opera is a far cry from what it could have been and it reeks of bad management.

What worries me even more is that they have managed to corner themselves. They are now officially the most incompatible browser on earth (well, text-only browsers not included). More sites don't work with Opera (fully) than ever before. Their JS engine is not even considered fast anymore. And there are no signs of them really caring. A pity since they demonstrated they are an innovative company.

jgpaiva

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Re: Opera - An exercise on frustration
« Reply #3 on: November 17, 2008, 07:38:46 PM »
I also agree, this new "feature" is unusable, and it's incredible how firefox was able to get into it later and yet implement something that is a few orders of magnitude better than opera's implementation.

Dormouse

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Re: Opera - An exercise on frustration
« Reply #4 on: November 17, 2008, 07:54:31 PM »
I still find Opera the best browser for me, but I do find the comparisons with the competition less good than they were, especially with the coming of Chrome. Pushed me into taking advantage of the BdJ discount on RoboForm today on assumption it will eventually work with Chrome and derivatives, and I can anyway cope with using FF for sites with complex forms.

Never have bothered with the Search feature though. Never felt the need of it,possibly to my loss if it had worked.

zridling

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Re: Opera - An exercise on frustration
« Reply #5 on: November 17, 2008, 10:43:24 PM »
A valid gripe. Similarly, the same phenomena occurs with DNA databases. When everyone's DNA is typed (say, for crimes), then the cops have noticed that the DNA database catches fewer and fewer outstanding crimes. Turns out the vast majority really are innocent and typing them is a huge waste of a good resource.

First thing I disable on every modern OS is HD search indexing. I don't need it.

Paul Keith

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Re: Opera - An exercise on frustration
« Reply #6 on: November 19, 2008, 06:44:19 AM »
Where do you find how to disable this feature? Opera:config shows nothing when doing a search for suggestion.

jgpaiva

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Re: Opera - An exercise on frustration
« Reply #7 on: November 19, 2008, 07:51:21 AM »
Paul: search for "Addressbar Content Search" ;)

Paul Keith

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Re: Opera - An exercise on frustration
« Reply #8 on: November 19, 2008, 08:00:58 AM »
Hmm... nothing shows up either. I'm using 9.62

Is it for an alpha? Desktop team blog also says it's the latest.

jgpaiva

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Re: Opera - An exercise on frustration
« Reply #9 on: November 19, 2008, 08:05:13 AM »
Now that's strange.. I'm on V9.62, Build 10467.
Try looking in the "user prefs" section. It should be one of the first options.

Paul Keith

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Re: Opera - An exercise on frustration
« Reply #10 on: November 19, 2008, 08:20:59 AM »
Thanks found it. Weird, I didn't notice any weird behaviour using Opera. Must be cause I'm typing the urls in F2.

iphigenie

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Re: Opera - An exercise on frustration
« Reply #11 on: November 22, 2008, 10:59:00 AM »
I must say I have found this feature very useful and hadn't even noticed the flaws. Even with flaws it saves me so much time :D

Lutz_

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Re: Opera - An exercise on frustration
« Reply #12 on: November 23, 2008, 11:22:34 AM »
Most likely I am doing something wrong - Opera is still a very pleasant experience. For me, the latest updates have a fixed a few glitches and it seems to have recovered its original speed.     :P

nontroppo

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Re: Opera - An exercise on frustration
« Reply #13 on: November 28, 2008, 04:08:31 PM »
Indeed, the UI could be tuned more, but this feature is also far to brilliant for its minor imperfections to detract. I want proper boolean/proximity searches, which would be just amazingly awesome. Don't forget to make your prefs > advanced > history > addresses a large value to store all that text-content goodness. And don't forget about opera:history for your own local google-alike database.
FARR Wishes: Performance TweaksTask ControlAdaptive History
[url=http://opera.com/]