This edition of NetSpeak explores the key developments in the current web browser market with special reference to the new version of Opera.
The web browser, the software meant for accessing the web, plays a significant role in our on-line life.
Choosing an appropriate browser and equipping it with necessary add-ons are some of the primary skills required to survive in cyberspace. For instance, most of the mainstream browsers now support the extension facility (a browser extension is a small program that enhances its functionality).
To make the browsing experience more smooth and efficient one should closely track the latest extensions available and integrate the relevant ones with the browser.
Browser developers are quite responsive to the ever-changing needs of netizens and, generally, all of them regularly release new versions with bug fixes, added features and enhanced security.
Opera is one browser that excels in this department. Compared to other mainstream browsers, Opera has certain innovative features.
The file-sharing feature (Opera Unite), mentioned in an earlier edition of this column is an excellent example. With this feature, Opera allows the user to run a server inside it and enables him/her to share our desktop files instantaneously with anyone on the web. A recent version of Opera (Opera 11) also comes bundled with several useful features.
A notable feature of Opera 11 worth discussing is tab stacking. One of the revolutionary innovations in browser technology is the concept of tabbed browsing, which helps the user load many web pages in a single window.
Most of us have a tendency to open multiple tabs at a time and sometimes this tab overload could become unwieldy. Tab management is always an issue and browsers adopt different means to solve it. For instance, Chrome's ‘Pin Tab' feature could be used to mange tab clutter. The ‘Pin Tab' option, which can be invoked by right-clicking on a tab, allows the user to reduce the width of a tab to the site's custom image (favicon).
Besides helping to save on browser real estate, this feature makes the tab window permanent. This means the page in the tab is always available whenever one opens the browser. To create this functionality in Firefox, one needs to install an extension like ‘ App Tabs' (https://addons.mozilla.org / en-US /firefox /addon/47734/).
Though the ‘Pin Tab' kind of feature helps the user prevent tab clutter to some extent, it is still not the best way to manage tabs. A person doing research on different themes/topics may open several sites pertaining to these themes on different tabs. If all the sites are organised related to a topic into one topic tab, the web life can be made more efficient and smooth. Opera's new feature ‘Tab stacking' meets this need quite beautifully. Tab stacking allows you to keep a set of pages in a group tab and one can expand this group tab with a single mouse click.
To create a tab group, you need to just drag one tab on top of another. The ‘mouse gestures' feature that helps us navigate a web site by dragging the mouse (with the right mouse button) in different directions is yet another unique attribute of Opera 11 (http://www.opera.com/browser/tutorials/gestures/). If a web page is opened on Opera and later if you wish to open the same page in another browser (installed on your desktop), you don't need to move out of Opera. Simply right-click on the page, access the ‘open with' option and select the appropriate browser from the list that pops up. The ‘ Notes tool' that helps to generate site-specific notes, the ‘ closed tabs' button (meant for re-opening any of the closed tabs), and the ‘ Speak' attribute, that enables us to read out web pages, are some other productivity-boosting features of Opera.
Besides the mainstream browsers such as IE, Firefox, Chrome and Opera, there are several other browsers. RockMelt (http://www.rockmelt.com/), the browser being projected as a social one, is the latest one tested by this author. The primary advantage of this browser with a Chrome-type interface is its feature that helps us access the real-time web with ease. For instance, if you are a Facebook/Twitter junky, Rockmelt has built-in features that enable you to be always in contact with your friends.
Whenever we plan to learn about a new topic, the first place we now look for materials is usually the Net.
However, when one invokes a search, search engines generally pull out all the web pages that contain the selected topic. The search output might contain a mix of basic and advanced materials. Naturally, for a beginner, advanced materials may not be of much use. A mechanism that enables one to obtain only the ‘ basic' materials on the topic will be useful. Google's new option ‘Reading level' (available under the ‘Advanced Search'- http://www.google.com/advanced_search serves this need pretty well. This option allows the user to filter the results as basic, intermediate and advanced(http://googleblog. blogspot.com/2010/12/this-week-in-search-121010.html). It is common knowledge that Google collects some information bits such as the search term, the IP address of your machine. As per Google, it does this to give better search results.
To know the kind of information bits that Google snatches, video is available at (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kLgJYBRzUXY). To watch more videos on this subject, one can scan through the Youtube channel ‘Googleprivacy' (http://www.youtube.com/user/googleprivacy), in which several security/privacy related videos are available.
He can be contacted at:
Keywords: web browser market