There’s a lot of misinformation out there about various web browsers. Opera can/can’t do this. Firefox can/can’t do that. There’s only so much you can do to promote one product when you only know rumors or outdated facts about another.

Opera users: If someone told you that Firefox was better than Opera because it doesn’t have ads, you wouldn’t take them seriously. You’d know the ads have been gone since last year, and you’d wonder what else they have wrong.

Firefox users: If someone told you Opera was better than Firefox because Firefox won’t let you reorder tabs, you wouldn’t take them seriously. You’d know that Firefox 1.5 did just that, and you’d wonder what else they have wrong.

And neither of you will convince an IE fan that Opera is better because of tabs and a built-in search box because they’ll tell you that IE7 has both.

When you’re trying to convince someone that X is better than Y, and they know Y very well, you’d better know Y well enough not to make statements that the other person knows are false. When you do, you’ll lose credibility, and the rest of your argument — the part you do know well — will suffer for it. (I suspect a lot of software flame wars get started this way!)

So here’s my suggestion: If you want to promote Opera, go and download Firefox 1.5. If you want to promote Firefox, go and download the Opera 9 beta. Either way, try out the IE7 beta (if your Windows version will run it) or fire up Safari (if you’re on a Mac). Mess around with them enough that you’re familiar with how they work, what you can do with them, and how they handle your favorite web pages. That way the next time you face an IE fan (to the extent that IE has fans), or a Firefox fan, or an Opera fan, or a Safari fan, you’ll be armed with accurate information.

As for the post title — I don’t think it’s necessary for the major browsers to be enemies. I think there’s plenty of room for cordial competition rather than a cutthroat struggle. But “Know Your Enemy” is a better attention-getter than “Familiarize yourself with the competition.” 😉

*This post originally appeared in two slightly different forms on my blog Confessions of a Web Developer at the My Opera community and on my Spread Firefox blog.

Since I’ve been using Opera a lot more than usual since Opera 9 Preview 2 came out, I’ve repeatedly run into the canonical reason that sharing one button for stop/refresh is a bad idea: Reaction time.

When a button changes in response to your own actions, it’s easy to adjust. When a button changes in response to something over which you have no control, there’s a possibility that it may change between the time your brain tells your finger to click on the mouse button and the time it presses down, registering the click with the computer.

Case in point: A web page is loading slowly. You’ve already seen the part you’re looking for, and you don’t need the rest of the images, or the rest of the 587 comments on the blog post. Maybe all you needed to do was confirm you had the right site, and you need to copy the URL. So you go to hit Stop. The web page finishes loading before your finger finishes clicking, the button changes to Reload… and the browser starts reloading the entire slow page from byte one.

I’ve done this at least four times in the past week.

The bad news: I can’t find separate stop/reload buttons anywhere in Opera’s button collection. The closest I could find seem to apply only to panels, not to browser views.

The good news: The Custom Buttons page at has them!

Once I get these on all the computers where I normally use Opera, accidental reloads should be a thing of the past!

*This post originally appeared on Confessions of a Web Developer, my blog at the My Opera community.

Posting an Opera button on your website or blog is a great way to encourage people to try out the browser — but what if the visitor already uses Opera? It shows solidarity, but what if you could show them something else, something that is new to them?

You might want to replace your regular Opera banner with an ad for Opera Mini. Or show them another graphic of your own design. Or maybe not even a graphic, maybe post some sort of message, like “Opera spoken here!” or “Welcome, Opera visitors!”

It’s relatively simple to do this in PHP, or ASP, or some other server-side script…but sometimes you have to stick with static HTML. Well, client-side JavaScript can replace chunks of your page, and here’s how to do it.

1. Put the following script in a file called operalinks.js:

function replaceOperaLink(linkID) {

if(linkNode=document.getElementById(linkID)) {

if ( 0 <= navigator.userAgent.indexOf('Opera') ) {

var newButton=document.createElement('span');

newButton.innerHTML = '<a href="">Glad to see you're using Opera!</a>';

var parentNode=linkNode.parentNode;





For the innerHTML section, you can plug in a new link and banner, or a special message, or anything you want. (Just make sure that you put a backslash () in front of any apostrophes you use.)

2. Put a unique ID in the tag for your regular Opera button. Use the outermost tag that you want to replace. For example, let’s start it off with this:

<a id="OpLink" href="">Download Opera!</a>

3. Load the script in your document’s <head> section:

<script type="text/javascript" src="operalinks.js">

4. Call the function in the body onload event using the ID you chose in step 2:

<body onload="replaceOperaLink('OpLink')">

When the page loads, the script will check the visitor’s browser. If it’s Opera, it’ll replace the banner with whatever message you chose in step 1. It’s compatible with both HTML and XHTML, and you don’t need to worry about using <noscript> tags to make sure the banner still shows up for people with JavaScript disabled.

*This post originally appeared on Confessions of a Web Developer, my blog at the My Opera community.

It seems like everything I sign up for these days has a blog attached to it. Slashdot has a journal feature that I’ve never used. K-Squared Ramblings is approaching its third anniversary. I signed up with LiveJournal just to read friends’ journals and ended up with a blog there. Spread Firefox gave me a blog. My Opera gave me a blog. I signed up for info about (reserving a username just in case), and it turns out to be — you guessed it — a hosting service for blogs!

The way things are going, I seriously expect to offer me a blog the next time I order a book.