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Topic: What would make Otter a Browser of Choice? (Read 13672 times)

  • string
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What would make Otter a Browser of Choice?
An obvious answer, and one which, I suspect, comes to the mind of most of us, is that it recreates some of the most loved functionalities of the Opera Browser.

But there will be other things,

It's not IE or Chrome/variants
It's not Firefox

In other words it's. novel.

But there will be other things out there which should be added/emphasised to improve it's appeal, and this thread is to collect ideas and see where the musings take us.

To get started, what about the whole area of customisation, but customisation for everyone, not just "browser nerds"? How about two levels of customisation, including one that can be applied by the average user (like me!) without knowing knowing every little bit of jargon and all the tricks?
  • Last Edit: 2014-04-08, 06:16:55 by string

  • ersi
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Re: What would make Otter a Bowser of Choice
Reply #1
There's a view that I have repeated several times at My Opera and already in these forums too. At version 7.5 or so Opera did a campaign promoting "setups". These were interface customisation packages downloadable from the community website, just like add-ons are these days. To my subjective opinion, this was the single greatest campaign ever and made the My Opera forums explode with membership.

Once downloaded in-browser (just like add-ons these days), the interface of the program changed - and Opera's interface was marvellously malleable. The old setup was retained too, of course. There was a dialogue for switching-selecting the setup to your liking. The program whose interface notably comes with a few such setups is VLC.

For me, interface customisability is an immense attraction. To let non-geeks have some instant taste of it, Otter browser should include a few sensible instantly selectable interface setups out of the box, let's say

- a minimalist setup (more webspace)
- lots of buttons and toolbars
- longer menus
- vi or emacs-like keyboard setups
- ...

And, our humble forum could and should become or point to some place where custom setups are shared among the fan community. Custom setups, custom buttons, bookmarklets, userJS, CSS, whatnot...

  • string
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Re: What would make Otter a Bowser of Choice?
Reply #2
Good points ersi.

Re: What would make Otter a Browser of Choice?
Reply #3
It should offer the customizing options Opera >12 had (GUI & opera:config).
Speaking of opera:config, I could live without the Speed Dial section. Speed Dial is something nice to have but not essential for a browser.

  • Emdek
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Re: What would make Otter a Browser of Choice?
Reply #4
I like idea of "setups", these could be kind of "meta packages", bundling profile definitions for keyboard, toolbars etc.
Nadszedł już czas, najwyższy czas, nienawiść zniszczyć w sobie.
The time has come, the high time, to destroy hatred in oneself.

  • string
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Re: What would make Otter a Browser of Choice?
Reply #5
First of all, sorry about the porst in the title, it's been edited out.


The idea of of different set-ups is fine and would lend itself to development by specialist Otter contributors? I think that's a good concept.

But, with respect, it's still Nerdy, for enthusiasts,not for the bulk of people out there who (to exaggerate the point just a tiny bit)would be quite happy with a "Quick Start" containing just Facebook. Twitter, U--Tunes, Music downloads maybe email and the odd Football site they could add themselves; and maybe able to add their favourite pop idol as background for all of this.

I don't use Quick Start in Opera - never saw the point for what I did - so in that sense I'm on the nerdy side I suppose, but I want to purse the idea of making Otter more more attractive and, just possibly, a way to bring money into the Otter Project.

So - savour the idea of several different "Quick Start" pages (one would have to call them something different - I'll use "Gates") which could be selected form a menu and which would be developed by the relevant enthusiast from amongst Emdek's army of contributors.

A few obvious examples of Gates would be

Social media
Music
Travel
Internet Shopping
Film Reviews and releases

You could choose any of these as the start up screen. There are, obviously many, and they would take time to grow.

So my concept in that would be Otter being able to claim that it was the "BEST BROWSER TO ACCESS YOUR FAVOURITE ", or "FILM REVIEWS AT YOUR FINGER TIPS".

Obviously this could introduce the possibility of having sponsors who's site was mentioned contributing to Otter's Coffers - on the condition that their link did not dominate the Gate in question. For that reason Otter should take care to remain in the driving seat and not rent out those things to commercial interests.

I can't honestly say that it would be my first port of call, but that's not the point; I'm trying to search for a wider catchment of users.

-------------------------

Regarding mail issue I'm keen on the mail client, it was actually the chief reason I chose Opera. It was a unique selling point.

  • Emdek
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Re: What would make Otter a Browser of Choice?
Reply #6
@string, that's a bit more tricky but could be considered.
Nadszedł już czas, najwyższy czas, nienawiść zniszczyć w sobie.
The time has come, the high time, to destroy hatred in oneself.

  • string
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Re: What would make Otter a Browser of Choice?
Reply #7

@string, that's a bit more tricky but could be considered.


Please note the intent is not to pester you for yet more functionally - you have enough on your plate, especially at this time. This thread is more to provoke people into making their novel suggestions to make Otter more unique and attractive. I'm sure there are good ideas out there!

They can be mulled over and done, or not done in less frenetic times.
  • Last Edit: 2014-04-09, 19:38:12 by string

Re: What would make Otter a Browser of Choice?
Reply #8
As Opera is mainly for power users, I believe a focus on power tools which make it easy to do power user tasks like web development would make it even more convenient than it already is. I believe that if a few changes are made, Otter will become a browser of choice among web developers.

Currently, Opera 12 allows you to edit source and hit Apply Changes which is a soft-reload incorporating the changes you've made. The nicest thing is that if you make changes to any external css files or js files that the web page used, these changes will not be lost upon reload. You'd have to manually go to each css and js page and reload them individually to do that - which is great, as it means your changes wouldn't be lost. This is IMPOSSIBLE to do in Chrome or Firefox because the user is not allowed to open or edit files in the cache. I believe that the practice of disallowing the users from accessing the browser cache is overly restrictive on the user's freedoms. I want to be able to see what I've downloaded. Enough said.

The features missing in Opera 12 currently are:

1. Text Editor features:

Syntax highlighting. Currently there is only limited HTML syntax highlighting, and no CSS or Javascript code highlighting. If we implement the highlighting features available in text editors, for example Notepad++, then coding in Opera will be much nicer.
Code folding. There is no support in Opera for code folding.
Indent style.
Commenting.
Brace matching.
Line numbers.
Search which highlights every matching word - currently opera only highlights one matching word. The more advanced search would highlight all matching occurrences and only stop highlighting when the user closes the search box, so that clicking on an area outside of the search box does not close it or stop the highlighting.
Search which allows for Replace All and Regex.
Search through multiple files at once (search all open files, search all files linked from this file, search all files within the website hierarchy of this file).

2. Version control, autosaving and project management. For each file you should be able to click on a button like "save this as a separate version" that automatically increments the version number. You could also tick a box that says "minor changes" like from 12.0 to 12.01 or untick it to create a new version like 13. Furthermore the browser should keep a track of all the changes ever made to the document, and this list of changes should be persistent in the computer's hard disk so that even after you restart the browser you can still undo any changes you made before you closed it. Changes should be pushed to the hard disk as soon as they are made so as to avoid information loss due to power failure, computer crash or other unpredictable problems. This functionality would be similar to a keylogger except more intelligent - it doesn't log keypresses but changes to the files. There should also be an option to copy the project, with all the associated css, javascript files and so on over to an entirely new project so that you can implement a different set of features without affecting what you've already done. As everything is stored in cache, you should be able to tell the browser to move files in the cache to any folder you want and make the browser remember this change. The browser needs to remember where the cache file for each URL is stored, individually. There should be a "Apply All Changes" button that applies all your changes at once and soft-reloads the website. The browser should switch focus to the reloaded website immediately, like how an IDE that runs a program will automatically give that program focus.

3. Automatic structuring. Otter should be able to look at the source code for a page and immediately create a structure consisting of all the files which the page uses. Furthermore, it should be able to recognize that all javascript share the same execution environment so that one global variable declared in one javascript file can be accessed by other javascript files. Thus, there should be some kind of javascript "panel" that aggregates all the javascripts into one place, in execution order. Users should be able to not only see a list of all the files that the web page uses, the user should be able to click to open the file and immediately begin editing, and also drag multiple files into one window to "merge" them. This would make sense for CSS and Javascript for example, because separating them into different files or combining them into a single file makes no difference as the browser treats them as the same.

4. Better integration with the Inspector. There is currently an "Element Inspector" in most web browsers including Opera which includes a Console where you can see errors, you can click on the line number but you cannot edit it permanently! So it would be great if the ability to directly edit the file and Apply Changes was allowed in the Inspector itself. I know Chrome allows you to edit javascript in the Inspector but that's only after the javascript has already been loaded, which is too limiting for the purposes of web development. Otter should allow you to not only edit javascript and have it updated without reloading, but also edit it and then reload the page with the changes applied.

These are just a few of the changes I thought of. As they are, they are merely enhancements to what is already available in a relatively primitive form in Opera. However, I believe that with these changes Otter has the potential to become a very powerful web browsing/IDE hybrid. It has all the advantages of an IDE combined with all the advantages of a browser. I can definitely foresee this move as making web IDEs obsolete, as it will make web development orders of magnitudes easier.

  • ersi
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Re: What would make Otter a Browser of Choice?
Reply #9
Good detailed suggestions there, Aspectratio. Developer tools (Dragonfly sometimes, and source code viewer more often) were the things I made use of myself too. It's good to have these tools integrated in a well-considered internet suite.

There's one thing about Opera that prevented many ordinary people to use it as the internet suite of their choice. Namely, "Send file" in a graphical file manager. Windows Mail (earlier Outlook Express), MS Outlook works, Mozillas work under Win, Mac, and often Linux too:

- Select a file in file manager
- Right-click & send file

Opera never worked this way. The email component was not made to work this way.

I realise that it's difficult to make this thing work cross platform. However, when done, the internet suite can comfortably be recommended to any noob, beginner, and one's own granny. Totally fabulous.

  • string
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Re: What would make Otter a Browser of Choice?
Reply #10
Welcome to the Forum, AspectRatio, I hope you enjoy it here.

  • Frenzie
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Re: What would make Otter a Browser of Choice?
Reply #11
Welcome. Thank you for your thoughtful post.

  • ersi
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Re: What would make Otter a Browser of Choice?
Reply #12
Personally I don't see much point with advanced-enhanced developer tools in a webbrowser, but they are inevitable in Otter browser, because:

- Opera had developer tools (source viewer, dragonfly, some debugger thingy), so there's a historical reason right there
- With good functional developer tools included, a new niche browser may acquire an  important, probably the most important section of user base
- Creators of software are developers themselves, and when they do something by themselves for free, then more likely for their own use and purpose first of all

Moreover, when the implementation will be properly modular, so that it won't be in the way of mere browsing, then there's no reason why the developer tools should not be there. For parallel, I never understood the people who complained about the inclusion of the e-mail client, when it was really not in the way at all. It was quite hidden from the interface, as it should in case of properly modular approach.

Possibly the best way to achieve a versatile source viewer is to allow external editors to be embedded in the browser. In the old Opera forums I made such a request for the email composer too. I would very much appreciate this ability.

  • Emdek
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Re: What would make Otter a Browser of Choice?
Reply #13
@AspectRatio, sadly most of these ideas cannot be achieved, unless if applied directly to Chromium (so it could be used with upcoming QtWebEngine) or by forking, but I'm afraid that it would be too big burden, even if it would be maintained by combined forces of developers of all Qt based browsers...
Ability to modify cache should be doable (at least with QtWebKit, thanks to QNetworkAccessManager integration) but I doubt that we need such advanced editor built in, syntax highlighting line numbering etc. are easy to do (I've done such widget years ago), but for more advanced editing it might make more sense to allow to edit it in external editor.
Such basic source editor / viewer could be done before beta1, probably as widget belonging to tab, embedded like inspector (using splitter).
Nadszedł już czas, najwyższy czas, nienawiść zniszczyć w sobie.
The time has come, the high time, to destroy hatred in oneself.

  • iSchulze
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Re: What would make Otter a Browser of Choice?
Reply #14
Hey y'all. I just found out about the project that is going on here, and I'm excited! Opera is still my favorite browser, but you know what happens.
They had awesome ideas and changed the browsers - but there is no power. When they changed to the chromium-engine I knew that I will have to change the browser of my choise one day.

The only thing I always wanted in Opera was the ability to de- and encrypt mails via OpenPGP, MIME and PGP/MIME. For long years people wrote that into Opera forums and direct mails to the developers, but they were not interested in this project. Maybe that's a feature you could write down to the specific mail-implementation on your feature-list.

Thanks for your doing. Appreciate that.

  • Emdek
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Re: What would make Otter a Browser of Choice?
Reply #15
@iSchulze, yes, we would like to have such features in our mail client module.

On the side note, we would need a dedicated maintainer for that module, as currently our team has to focus on more basic features...
Related ticket: https://github.com/Emdek/otter/issues/37
Nadszedł już czas, najwyższy czas, nienawiść zniszczyć w sobie.
The time has come, the high time, to destroy hatred in oneself.

  • DogMatix
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Re: What would make Otter a Browser of Choice?
Reply #16
Hi

I have been keeping an eye on this project since its conception and I have been running the Alpha versions on Win7. I have now installed the Beta on a 32bit Lubuntu netbook.

I am pleased that Otter is an Open-source project, that sits well with me, and is one thing that Otter offers that Opera sadly never did.

A Mac version is also important to me as my 9-5 work day is usually spent sat in-front of my Mac.

I used to use Opera on Mac, Win & Linux computers and it was my primary browser and I had become rather dependant on the Opera synch facility. I have now changed to Firefox/Chromium and use third party add-ons such as Last-Pass to synch my various browsers. I don't want to put all my egg's in one basket again. So an important feature for me is compatibility with Firefox/Chrome add-on's API.

Native mail-clients and bit-torrents are less important to me as I use other applications for those and I'd rather have a browser that is lighter on resources than full of features I don't use.

The browser interface certainly reminds me of Opera 12. There are a few refinements such as hiding the menu bar and toolbars that would help, especially on a netbook screen. The amount of screen real estate used by the UI is currently considerably more than Firefox uses. Otherwise, it feels familiar and I like it.

  • Emdek
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Re: What would make Otter a Browser of Choice?
Reply #17
@DogMatix, support for Chrome and Firefox extensions is planned, but it will certainly take some time to be done (at least these APIs that could be supported), sometime after 1.0 release.
Ability to hide menu bar etc. will be done as part of #31, hopefully in time of beta 2.
Nadszedł już czas, najwyższy czas, nienawiść zniszczyć w sobie.
The time has come, the high time, to destroy hatred in oneself.

  • ersi
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Re: What would make Otter a Browser of Choice?
Reply #18
Re: sync feature

A well-built application stores its profile and settings so that they can be conveniently copied to a portable media or uploaded to some private webspace. This is how I synced Opera's settings and profile across multiple machines long before Opera Link existed.

Also, backwards compatibility is important. This is what Opera forgot - willingly - when it "up"graded to Chropera and this cost them pretty much the entire user base. Of course, they didn't seriously mean to remain in browser business anyway, so they don't see it as a problem, but it is a problem for the users. And already in Presto era there were changes to the email storage format that caused issues to users when upgrading/syncing profiles.

In short, users care a lot about the portability of profile and settings, and the compatibility of formats across platforms and app versions. In Otter it's planned to include a feature to import bookmarks from Opera Presto, which is a good start. Let's hope the broader portability and compatibility also receives due attention.

  • DogMatix
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Re: What would make Otter a Browser of Choice?
Reply #19
@Emdek Thanks for the links. I have been keeping an eye on Github discussions. Otter seems to be heading in a direction I like and at a fair pace. The stability of my Lubuntu install is impressive, as yet, it hasn't missed a beat. I'm going to keep Otter installed on my Linux netbook and keep tabs on progress.

@ersi Portability is important for me too. I can find myself working in various locations throughout the year and the ability to download a browser, 'log in', synch and have everything at hand, without lugging around a laptop, is useful. But, after being too faithful to Opera synch I felt I got my fingers burned. So I've turned to third-party add-on's that synch across various browsers, such as EverSync, FVD and LastPass.

  • Emdek
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Re: What would make Otter a Browser of Choice?
Reply #20
@ersi, sure, at least bookmarks should be pretty safe already, it's just XBEL plus few extensions. ;-)
When we will ad built-in sync capabilities then it will probably be also using backends, using stuff like ownCloud for storage. Maybe also that Enginio from Digia, AFAIK they wanted to give some megabytes for free.

@DogMatix, I must warn you about this bug in Qt 5.3.0, it's really nasty under Linux, but at least is marked as critical and should be fixed in 5.3.1.
https://bugreports.qt-project.org/browse/QTBUG-39278
Nadszedł już czas, najwyższy czas, nienawiść zniszczyć w sobie.
The time has come, the high time, to destroy hatred in oneself.

  • DogMatix
  • [*]
Re: What would make Otter a Browser of Choice?
Reply #21
@Emdek I can't seem to replicate that bug at the moment. My netbook is running Lubuntu Utopic & Debian Sid. So it's a bit of a playground machine for me anyway. There are often breakages.

  • sam
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Re: What would make Otter a Browser of Choice?
Reply #22
Great new forums/project and finally developers who are willing to listen users. I have already tried new beta version and I'm surprised how fast you could provide us with completely new made browser from the scratch. Nice work. Back to the point in this thread...The list of the most used features in old Opera at least for me:

- bookmark sidebar ;)
- mouse gestures (I always smash with my mouse in other browsers around the table but then I suddenly realize this is not Opera xD)
- search function Ctrl+f
- password manager

Things like stability/compatibility are most important "base" for future extended features support with far more customization options.

  • Emdek
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Re: What would make Otter a Browser of Choice?
Reply #23
@DogMatix, it might depend of installed HarfBuzz version, anyway, it should be fixed soon. :-)

@sam, well, this is why I've chosen Qt, it lets you work faster, thanks to good APIs (at least in most cases) and very good documentation.
Sidebar (or panels, as we call it in TODO) should come before next beta, one of our developers (Chocimier) is missing them badly too (for me they would be more useful after adding RSS reader module ;-)).
Mouse gestures aren't far away too, at least if it would be acceptable to use middle button for them (support for right button may come later, due to clash with context menus).
Ctrl+F is already there, AFAIK works without issues.
And yes, passwords manager, one of two main feature requests (other being content blocking), hopefully it will be added before next beta, at least in basic form.

Nadszedł już czas, najwyższy czas, nienawiść zniszczyć w sobie.
The time has come, the high time, to destroy hatred in oneself.

  • sam
  • [*]
Re: What would make Otter a Browser of Choice?
Reply #24


@sam, well, this is why I've chosen Qt, it lets you work faster, thanks to good APIs (at least in most cases) and very good documentation.
Sidebar (or panels, as we call it in TODO) should come before next beta, one of our developers (Chocimier) is missing them badly too (for me they would be more useful after adding RSS reader module ;-)).
Mouse gestures aren't far away too, at least if it would be acceptable to use middle button for them (support for right button may come later, due to clash with context menus).
Ctrl+F is already there, AFAIK works without issues.
And yes, passwords manager, one of two main feature requests (other being content blocking), hopefully it will be added before next beta, at least in basic form.


Great. I'm seriously amazed on attitude and dedication to real browsing experience here. It is like "hey it's no problem to do it just wait"  :happy:  :cheers: I think it is time to completely abandon the sinking Chropera ship and finally FORGET it for good.  :rip:
BTW Is it possible/planned to make an option for automatic hide/show sidebar? HAH right click creation of new search engines is working nicely! Also the rendering speed is great. The only missing thing is Slovak translation in installer.
  • Last Edit: 2014-06-07, 09:57:37 by sam