Opera Extensions: A Closer Look
The final build of Opera 11 was released a few days back. New features include extensions, tab stacking and on-demand plugin load. I couldn’t cover it over here as I was extremely busy with my seventh semester project. However, I did do an in-depth review over at Techie Buzz. Check it out for a quick overview of the major new features in Opera 11.
For me the best new feature is support for extensions. In my honest opinion, Opera Software made a big mistake by not incorporating extensions earlier. In fact, I have
bitched complained about the lack of an API on multiple occasions in the past (over here, here and here). As you might expect, I was over the moon when Opera Software revealed its plans to support extensions in Opera.
Among the currently available extensions, LastPass is undoubtedly my favourite. Besides extensions, the other feature I had been requesting for a long time is an automatic form filler. LastPass intelligently fills forms based on your pre-configured profiles. Additionally, it generates secure passwords, stores them, and makes them available anywhere and everywhere.
I have covered LastPass in the past. Back then, the lack of an API meant that the only way to get it working in Opera was to use bookmarklets. However, besides being inconvenient and clumsy, bookmarklets severely limited the benefits of LastPass.
On the other hand, the extension is intuitive and feature rich. After you install it, you will have to create an online account (if you don’t have one) at LastPass.com. You should also create a form profile and set it as the default. In the future, LastPass will fill in web-forms based on this information. I also recommend creating some groups in your password vault. This will help you in categorising saved login information for websites, later on.
LastPass sits quietly in the background, and jumps into action whenever required. It will offer to automatically fill web forms when you encounter them. Better yet, it will automatically generate a secure passwords for you, and remember it. LastPass will also prompt you to save authentication information when you log into a website for the first time, and enter it automatically on future visits.
Opera already has a capable inbuilt password manager called “Wand”, which works very well. However, LastPass is a better option due to multiple reasons. The biggest advantage of LastPass is that it works on different platforms and on different browsers. Your information is stored in the cloud, and kept synchronised across machines and operating systems. LastPass also has other added benefits like an intelligent form filler, multiple profile support and password generator.
The other extension that I would like to highlight is FastestTube. It’s a simple extension which adds a download option to YouTube videos. Have a look at the screenshot below to get an idea.
It’s an excellent extension. It integrates beautifully with the web page when required, stays hidden when not required, and it works! However, these are not the only reasons for highlighting it. As a matter of fact, it is identical to the “Download YouTube Videos as MP4” userscript (userJS) I had earlier written about.
Extensions add a whole new dimension to the browser. It enables a user to pick and choose the features he wants to have, in order to make his browser truly his own. As BetaNews wrote,
Opera has “supported” extensibility in the past, in the way that a toddler “supports” a hot bathtub by sticking just his toes in it and waiting until past midnight to jump in.
Back in the days, I wrote an extensive (and a rather popular) article on customising Opera. However, most of the stuff I covered required extensive effort on the behalf of the user, and even then, had a lot of strings attached. With extensions, Opera is finally ready to compete with Firefox and Chrome in every respect. They are simple, elegant, powerful, and most importantly, extremely useful. Go ahead and take Opera 11 with extensions for a spin.