Opera Extensions: A Closer Look

Opera: The Extendables

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.

Opera’s API is based on the W3C widget specification. If you have already developed extensions for Chrome, or are familiar with HTML, CSS and JavaScript, you should be able to create your own Opera extension easily. The extensions can either run quietly in the background or have a user interface that is exposed through buttons in the toolbar or through overlays on the website itself or both. While Opera’s API is not as powerful as Firefox’s, it should ensure that extensions don’t compromise security, stability and performance of the browser.

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-Form-Profile
Create a LastPass Form Profile

LastPass-Vault
Create LastPass Vault Categories

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.

LastPass-Autologin
Autologin with LastPass

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.

Download YouTube Videos in Opera
Download YouTube Videos in Opera with FastestTube

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.

One of the biggest advantages of the new extensions architecture introduced by Opera is convenience, and FastestTube exemplifies this. Currently, the FastestTube extension has more than hundred and eighty thousand downloads. I doubt if the userJS was downloaded by even eighteen thousand Opera users. Unlike user JavaScripts, extensions can be installed and un-installed with a single click. Perhaps even more importantly, Opera update ensures that you are always using the latest version of an extension.

Many of my classmates are Opera users. However, very few of them use or even know how to install userjs files. This is at least partially Opera’s fault. Unlike in Firefox (with Greasemonkey), Opera doesn’t support automatic installation of userJavaScripts. Even more criminally, there isn’t even an official gallery of userjs files. Thankfully, both of these issues aren’t present with extensions, making them easy to discover and install.

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.

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36 Responses to Opera Extensions: A Closer Look

  1. Vapor Smoking May 18, 2011 at 7:28 pm #

    I think it is a best guidelines here.I think Opera web browser makes the Web fast and fun, giving you a better web browser experience on any computer. Opera is the fastest browser.

  2. purchase settlements September 13, 2011 at 4:34 pm #

    I am a big fan of opera. I really like the new extensions.

  3. Web Design Resource September 13, 2011 at 5:09 pm #

    Best for mobile. Opera is really working great at mobile devices.

  4. autokary wynajem October 22, 2011 at 11:46 am #

    I am impressed, I must say. Really rarely do I discovered a blog that s both informative and entertaining, and let me tell you, you have hit the nail on the head. Your idea is important; the issue is something that not a lot of people are talking intelligently about. I m very happy that I stumbled across this in my search for something relating to this.

  5. rrr December 11, 2011 at 3:35 am #

    Opera is the best! I use only that browser for years. It’s fast, good and have many good additions :)

  6. Alan Smith January 24, 2012 at 11:30 am #

    The main advantage of the opera is that it comes with lots of features in very small package. Opera11 uses less memory, run quickly on slow connection and older computers.

  7. Jeff Kapes January 31, 2012 at 8:40 pm #

    im really liking the FB Purity extension for opera, it neutralises a lot of the damn horsecr&p that Facebook shoves in our newsfeeds. i give it a 10/10.

    You can get it here: http://www.fbpurity.com

  8. emobile_developer July 13, 2012 at 4:13 pm #

    I have been using Firefox and Chrome but never used Opera. I want to give a try to it and also want to experience its aforementioned features and extensions. I have used roboform and informenter for the purpose of filling form but would like to use Lastpass. Anyway, pleased to read the information. Thanks and keep up great effort.

  9. clarity furniture January 23, 2013 at 11:55 am #

    Great in-depth look here. Thanks for sharing this with us Pallab. I am planning on trying the new Opera because my Firefox browser runs extremely slow.

    - James

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