FireFox Vs. Opera - Version 1.0

April 19th, 2006

FireFox from the Perspective of an Opera User

Opera and FireFox are both alternative browsers. Mainly, they are alternatives to IE. Although users of both software tend to think that their browser is the best, both agree that anything is better than IE.

The arguments for both browsers are good ones, however many things are forgotten. I recently installed FireFox and have been trying to use it as objectively as possible. Here are some differences between FireFox and Opera. This may be a bit biased [since I do prefer Opera] but for the most part, these are simple differences.

FireFox’s Extensions:
Even though the extensions are not included in the program, FireFox’s file size is still larger than Operas non-Java version

I never would have went through the time of installing mouse gestures nor had knew what they were had I not used Opera first. Since Opera has them built-in, the first time I used one accidentally, a message popped up letting me know what I did and provided me information. Now I use them all the time. However, I never would have seeked them out, especially if switching from IE.

Make sure the “Allow websites to install software” box is checked in Options - otherwise you cannot install Extensions, and you will receive no warning of this
[Edit: Yes, this is checked by default. Yes, I did uncheck it. Why? Because I never thought that I would need to install something from a website. My initial thought was I don’t install things directly, I download them. I had no idea how extensions worked or that they were to be directly installed from the website]

To mimic the features of Opera that I use frequently, I had to install 8 FireFox extensions.

FireFox has a “Web Developers” extension. Opera has one too. Both do the same thing. The difference, Fire Fox’s is a toolbar, Opera’s is a menu, conveniently located in the menu bar. It’s a matter of preference - I’m just glad that there are web developer tools period. Unfortunately, “disable java” should not be a Web Developers preference but a browser one. This feature, among other similars, is available using Opera’s “quick preferences” (F+12) menu. This contributes to Opera’s speediness.

After two hours, I have FireFox set up how I would use it as a casual web surfer/web developer. I have 8 extensions, and it is comparable to my Opera setup. Unfortunately, due to physical browser restrictions, it is not as efficient. Also, the only way for FireFox to be usable is with extensions. I understand that it is made this way, as to not bloat the browser. This is understandable, since Opera is considered a bit cumbersome and heavy with its goodies. So, this means that FireFox is only as good as its extensions. I would never have installed most of these extensions, had I not realized their usefulness in Opera first.
[Edit: It took me two hours to get to the website, find extensions I thought I would need, figure out how to install them and to make sure that everything worked. Also, FireFox is completely usable without extensions. Its just that without the extensions, FireFox is uncomparable to Opera. Though, personally, I feel that IE users would be more comfortable using FireFox than Opera for this reason.]

Here are the FireFox extensions I installed to mimic my Opera setup:
Mouse Gestures: Instructions not as intuitive though I mainly just use the “back” and “forward” mouse clicks

Web Developer: Toolbar with too many features to count. Some of which should belong to the browser and are not for web developers solely, but this bar is amazing. Definitely beats Opera’s W3-Dev*

Tabbrowser Extensions: Allows sessions to be saved (anytime and upon exit), tabs can be duplicated and rearranged. Things you cannot do in Opera, that you can with this extension, is change the background color of tabs, group them, and bookmark all open tabs. Also, closing all other tabs is a nice feature.

Statusbar Clock: Displays the date and time in the bottom, right-hand corner of the status bar. In Opera, the time, only, is available but can be put anywhere.

ReloadEvery: Allows a website to be reloaded in different time increments, automatically. Useful for eBay auctions, so you do not have to go to the site every 15 minutes and reload. Simply, keep the tab open. This is available in Opera by default and the site simply refreshes in the background, and the tab font color changes to let you know it has not been seen yet.

Paste and Go: Right-click in the address bar (or use the keyboard) to paste a url and go to the website automatically

ieview: View the current page in IE. *This is available in Opera via the W3-Dev menu.

QuickNote: A space available in the sidebar to jot little notes as you browse. A Notes panel comes with Opera 7.x

FireFox’s tabbed browsing:
The tabs cannot be rearranged or resized (without extensions)
Tabs cannot be moved between windows

FireFox overall and documentation:
Because FireFox is open source and not created by a real company, the documentation and website is lacking. Due to the Open Source novelty there is a huge fan-base and I am sure that Forums will provide you with any answer you are looking for. However, for those outside of this community, it may be overwhelming and improfessional to ask support help at a forum rather than in the Help menu of the program.

To find FireFox’s support I actually have to google “FireFox Support”. Why? Because there is a not a link to FireFox’s support page in the “About” menu as most programs do (this goes without saying that Opera follows this rule graciously).
[Edit: I no longer agree with these statements. In 1.0PR there is now complete Help documentation, along with FireFox support websites Bookmarked by default.]

It is much easier to add searches to the search bar on FireFox.
On Opera, one must edit the search..ini file. On the other hand, there are so many searches pre-installed on Opera that I doubt you would have to edit the file. Also, Opera makes an extra search box unnecessary since you can search via the address bar using one letter search identifiers. (i.e. to search for “pit bulls” on google, simply type in the address bar “g pit bulls”. For amazon, “z pit bulls”).
[Edit: This can also be done on FireFox manually of course. Simply go to the website, e.g., right-click in the search box on the site, then click “Add a keyword for this search” and you can assign any letter you’d like. Then the process to use it is the same as Opera. Since these are not preset for you, it is more customizable and slightly easier.]

What it comes down to is a matter of preference.
Seeing as how I can setup FireFox and Opera to be almost exactly alike (aside from the actual browser differences, such as the rendering engine), it’s simply up to the user.

Opera has a ton of features out of the box, FireFox has all the same features (perhaps, even more) available for download.

Some prefer supporting open source software as is FireFox, some dislike the small, text-based ads that come with the free version of Opera. Others may feel that losing a couple pixels (ads) is worth the sacrifice of full support and a welcoming community.

Besides, with the student discount, Opera costs as much as a tank of gas. You can’t beat that.
[Edit: FireFox’s price tag will always be more appealing. It really does come down to preference though. Honestly, if I had started using FireFox before Opera, I’m not sure which one I would perfer. I like that all of Opera’s features are integrated and smooth. And although FireFox’s extensions are not integrated in this way, you can hardly notice. Also, just because Opera is “bloated” with features, does not mean that these features are not useful. All in all, it’s just preference, really. Both browsers do things differently and both work well in their own right. Use what you want.]

Edited Sunday October 17, 2004

This is the original FF Vs. Opera document. Most of the facts and opinions in the above writing are untrue and no longer agreed with. Please read the new write-up on the two browsers.

Entry Filed under: browsers, firefox, opera

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Gstar  |  June 28th, 2006 at 1:30 pm

    If it took you 2 hours to find the extensions-homepage, and install a couple of things, then the rest of your review is pretty useless to most of us, who aren’t daft/slow.

  • 2. Sindhu  |  August 1st, 2006 at 3:58 am

    absoulty! right…jus 2 days ago i thot FF was the ultimate but it was with opera i realised what i really wanted. a few things though…figuring out how the layout adjustment in opera worked was a pain…but once did get it :) things worked nicer.

    FF is good, but not if u are jus a amatauer user,…i mean come one am still exploring the things out there i’d like something more instant like noodles than having to look around n do things myself.

    FF’s addons can slow ur PC down, that tabbed browsing addon sucked big time, i had one simpel principle while downloading addons, see the rating n user comments. and i forgot that sometimes ur pC’s config needs to be considered too…

    and by far i couldnt find a single addon free of uncessary search bars that would tell me mail alerts in all my accounts.

    anyway, opera is definitly recommended. if u want a email client and a note taker on the fly.

  • 3. pH4nToM  |  July 28th, 2007 at 12:28 am

    Personally I prefer FF. I just installed Opera for U3 so im not quite sure of Operas full capabilities but im sure they are similar.

    I like the idea that it is not neccessary to restart the browser after installing a theme/widget, I find that very useful. Firefox visual interface i prefer over opera’s.

    Other than that i find both browser greate and prefer anything over IE and Netscape.

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