Opera has released a new beta version of its innovative browser featuring tab “stacking,” improved support for extensions, and a visual trainer to help users learn Opera’s mouse gestures.
Opera has consistently been one the most innovative web browsers available. The company pioneered browser tabs more than ten years ago, changing the way that people surf the Internet. Today, tabs are generally considered the single most popular browser feature.
After the introduction of tabs, Opera continued to innovate, adding closed tab management and visual tabs.
But Opera 11’s most unique feature, the introduction of tab “stacking,” may be a response to a Firefox 4 feature called Panorama. Both Panorama and Opera 11’s tab stacking seek to help users organize tabs for ease of use.
Organizing the Web
“Because so many of us wrestle with tens or even hundreds of open tabs,” said Opera Vice President Jan Standal, “we needed a way to simplify tab management. Just like stacking papers for future reference, stacking your tabs is an intuitive way to organize and collect your open web pages.”
Put simply, Opera 11 allows users to drag a tab on top of another and create a stack. In this way tabs devoted to similar topics or tasks can be organized together and easily expanded when needed.
Once a tab stack is created, it can be expanded using the arrow icon that appears to the right of every stack.
Hovering over a tab stack provides a visual tab view of the stack’s content.
Video: A Quick Demonstration of Tab Stacking in Opera 11
Improved Support for Extensions
Opera 11 also includes improved support for extensions. This is another area where this extremely innovative browser may be taking a lesson from Firefox and Chrome, which have made adding custom functionality via extensions and add-ons a key feature.
Making It Easier to Learn Mouse Gestures
One of Opera’s longstanding and unique features has been the inclusion of mouse gestures. Effectively, this feature allows Opera power users to open new tabs, move through the browser history, or generally manipulate the browser more quickly. Using Opera mouse gestures is akin to touch-typing versus hunt-and-peck typing.
Unfortunately some users have had trouble learning the mouse movements. To help these individuals, Opera has introduced a mouse gesture visual trainer in Opera 11.
At any time during the browsing experience, a user can hold down the right or alternative mouse button, to see available mouse gestures and attempt to execute them.
The new Opera 11 beta has added new features that make this excellent browser even better. Opera 11 is also one of the fastest browsers available and includes additional support of HTML5 and CSS3.
Remember that browsers are simply tools that help us interact with the web. As such, we should be careful not to get too tied to a particular web browser just because it might have come with our computer or might be trendy.