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Opera insanity

2003-03-14 09:54:50.571424+00 by Shawn 12 comments

Okay, so I finally took another look at the Opera browser - primarily so I can say "tested in Opera". (I looked at Opera a few years back, but they didn't have an advertiser version then. You either paid or it stopped working after 30 days or so.)

I've been working on some classy fade-in effects for my professional site (they're not live yet - still on the development server). But they don't work on Opera. No huge surprise there. Neither the IE- nor Mozilla-specific code I'm using are part of the W3C standard. But why is my image missing entirely? A little digging reveals that Opera ships with it's default setting to masquarade as IE5/6. Whatthefuck?! A nice feature to have, I admit. But how many people actually know that? And how the hell am I supposed to make sure my pages look good in your browser if I don't have any way to tell that it's actually you??? This is the kind of bone-headed decision-making we're used to seeing from the MSN division at the Evil Empire. I am not impressed.

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comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment made: 2003-03-14 15:53:54.226725+00 by: Dan Lyke

Yep. I believe that the rationale is that Microsoft appears to have been deliberately trying to sabotage them on their pages, feeding bizarrely wrong stylesheets to browsers that identify themselves as Opera. A quick Google search leads to News.com.com on the topic.

#Comment made: 2003-03-14 16:00:13.656224+00 by: Dan Lyke

Historical exploration of the this at Virtuelvis: Opera vs. MSN.

#Comment made: 2003-03-14 18:33:13.671482+00 by: ccoryell

I spoke with a friend of mine who worked at MSN as a contractor shortly before this event.

I can sum up his comments as never attribute to malice what can be explained by incompetence.

MSN has a rep around Seattle as the C-team of Microsoft.

cheers, carl

#Comment made: 2003-03-14 18:52:15.908567+00 by: Dan Lyke

Carl, good point.

It's also the case that lots of web sites will complain that "you need at least a 4.0 browser" or similar stuff if you use Opera identifying as itself. Similar barriers to entry placed by incompetent bozos that lying about the user agent fixes.

#Comment made: 2003-03-14 19:43:23.516383+00 by: Shawn

I understand the reasons behind the decision/action. My complaint is that they didn't think it all the way through - just like the incompetent MSN bozos who decided to make a change which locked out all other browsers (I never said I thought it was malicious - I've heard the same assessments from those with MS connections).

Claiming that you are a browser you are not, when you can't run code specifically for that browser is shooting yourself in the foot, IMO. Having the fake IE feature is fine - just don't make it the default setting. If people find they need it, they can turn it on. But as a developer, I need some way to identify the browser if it's not going to be able to run the code I expect to send it. Have navigator.appName return "Microsoft Internet Explorer (Opera)" or navigator.appVersion include "Opera7", or something. Otherwise, they need to actually run all the IE specific code and use all the IE specific features. Not doing so accomplishes the same result, in the end, as the MSN debacle.

#Comment made: 2003-03-15 18:48:34.090014+00 by: Jerry Kindall

What Opera and other browsers like it need is the ability to masquerade as another browser on a per-site basis. If MSN won't let you in unless it thinks you're IE, fine, you set up Opera to pretend it's IE when visiting msn.com. In fact you ship it from the factory configured to do so, if the issue is well-enough known.

#Comment made: 2003-03-16 19:57:06.038413+00 by: Shawn

That seems a reasonable compromise. I still think it's a mistake to claim to support features/functionality you don't, but under the circumstances I'd be willing to accept a per-site default masquerading.

#Comment made: 2003-03-16 20:05:47.605466+00 by: Dan Lyke

One of the problems there is that it's already really difficult to manage per-site permissions with IE[Wiki]. Microsoft is already amazingly bad about jumping through a gazillion different zones in Windows Update, enough so that I've just taken to just keeping IE[Wiki] as the default browser because various Microsoft apps require it (well, make life extremely difficult if the browser isn't IE), but always using another browser for security reasons.

#Comment made: 2003-03-17 23:42:34.466901+00 by: baylink

You've had apps complain because IE wasn't your default browser?

I always set it to Netscape, and I can't remember any traceable problems...

#Comment made: 2003-03-18 06:31:01.371673+00 by: Dan Lyke

Yep. Microsoft Update has complained, and things that use the embedded HTML control sometimes have problems if Mozilla is the default browser.

In the end I really don't care about the default browser, so I let IE[Wiki] do that and browse with Mozilla. I'm an app oriented person, the desktop is just annoyance.

#Comment made: 2003-03-18 20:33:52.639689+00 by: Shawn

Microsoft Update has complained

Mozilla is my default browser. When I invoke Windows Update, IE loads. I don't see the connection/problem here.

things that use the embedded HTML control sometimes have problems if Mozilla is the default browser.

Can you be more specific? I've not seen this myself. In applications that use the embedded HTML control, I see them using IE - even though Mozilla is my default browser.

#Comment made: 2003-03-18 21:09:52.50014+00 by: Dan Lyke

Huh. When I have a chance I'll have to try again. I remember trying it, seeing that stuff broke, figuring that it really didn't matter how I looked at HTML files on the local machine 'cause I never use the desktop anyway, and setting IE back to default.