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Opera to auto fix incompatible Web pages
Plus out of date scripts & pages that block Opera
Hester




msg:1583612
 12:31 pm on Jun 16, 2005 (gmt 0)

This perhaps marks a new era of the internet. We've had user stylesheets and ad-blockers etc before, but they've always relied on the user. Now Opera has introduced Browser JavaScript [opera.com] in version 8.01. It still relies on the user to turn it on at the moment, but the point here is that it affects a range of websites that Opera have listed. These include:

atomfilms.com
sony.com
milanrecords.com
szczepienia.pl
peopleclick.com
msdn.microsoft.com
nvidia.com

The list is checked by the browser every week for updates, which will be automatically downloaded and applied the next time the site is loaded in Opera.

Opera Software state:

Browser JavaScript is a feature that allows Opera to automatically fix incompatible Web pages, out of date scripts, and pages that inadvertently block Opera. The script file is automatically distributed by Opera Software ASA, and can be used to apply fixes to specific Web sites, and specific scripts.

For instance, surfing to msdn.microsoft.com in Opera with Browser JavaScript on applies four fixes to make it work better:


  • Changes browser detect to make the page scripts run in Opera.
  • Fixes invalid scripts to make the data tables collapse correctly.
  • Makes the version compatibility tables work.
  • Changes browser detect to provide access to the demonstrations.

  • While I applaud the effort to correct incompatible sites, I can't help feeling browsers are stepping into a new area, where they exert direct control over the display of sites. (Yes, I know both Opera and Firefox have a variety of methods they use to correct bad code in order to display it, but this goes further than that.)

    Will Microsoft, or other sites targetted, start playing a cat and mouse game with Opera, by changing their code to muck up Opera's corrective Javascript?

    Also, will browsers become even more powerful, perhaps only displaying sites on a whitelist?

     

    RammsteinNicCage




    msg:1583613
     4:53 pm on Jun 20, 2005 (gmt 0)

    I'm wondering, could this have any effect on bank websites (assuming they get listed) that don't allow people access if they aren't using IE or Mozilla?

    Jennifer

    willybfriendly




    msg:1583614
     5:13 pm on Jun 20, 2005 (gmt 0)

    Perhaps a bit intrusive, but then again maybe welcomed? I know I get perturbed everytime I have to fire up moz or IE to view a site. Of course it needs to be an important site for me to bother.

    WBF

    encyclo




    msg:1583615
     5:16 pm on Jun 20, 2005 (gmt 0)

    I'm wondering, could this have any effect on bank websites

    Opera have been playing this game for a while - they were caught out recently when the Wells Fargo Bank updated their site and the Opera hack (which was to send a fake user agent for that site only claiming the browser was Netscape 4) meant that the browser was excluded. Mozilla and Firefox use a few site-specific fixes, notably for the IBM website.

    What this new approach brings is that the fixes are not hard-coded in (like for the Wells Fargo fix) but can be revised, updated and altered for specific effects.

    I'm not sure it's a great advance - browsers have always had the ultimate control over the website display (as HTML and CSS are merely suggestive so can't be enforced), but I agree that it will just become a cat-and-mouse game of browser-specific hacks - everything that supporting published standards is trying to avoid. On the other hand, it shows a sense of pragmatism on Opera's part: the browser is there to give access to any site for the user, regardless of whether the site is well-written or not.

    iamlost




    msg:1583616
     8:34 pm on Jun 20, 2005 (gmt 0)

    There has always been a problem with the WWW: the information is yours until it leaves your server. Once transmitted your content, mark-up, client scripting, etc. is transparent and available for "use". Depending upon your code and the client's browser it will normally be presented reasonably as you intend.

    Lately there have been escalating assaults on our very perspective of the WWW. The academic vision of interlinked documents of attributed information easily accommodated goods, services, opinions, and diaries. The types of information changed and presentation improved but our perspective remained unchanged: we viewed each webpage as a single entity.

    The increasing use of CSS, especially as external files, removing presentation from inter-twined markup/attributes made change simple. And change has come: not as expected from the supplier but from the viewer and multiple third parties.

    Now we have people saying a user has a "right" to modify provided information and display, or not display, to personal taste. We have third parties offering "toolbars" that "add value" by adding/changing links, blanking/blocking "offensive" content, etc.

    It used to be that you could believe a photograph. Then that only certain professionals could modify photo-reality. Now, of course, everyone can do so. A photo is now only as real as a painting. Or not.

    Web pages have followed a similar path. That screenshot that everyone is upset about may never have existed except as a "user modification". How do you prove a negative? And by the time you do the damage is long done. Thanks bloggers. And the perpetrator has switched ISPs.

    Our perceptions always lag reality. And regulation/standards always lag perception. The reality of the WWW is that if it can be done someone will and if it is profitable many will follow regardless of privacy, copyright, trademark, patent, or any non-technical obstacle.

    Whether I like a particular behaviour/technology is moot. It exists apart from me and my beliefs.

    I think I shall pull up an old table design with HTML attributes and font tags and see how it survives greasemonkey and Opera and associated "helpful" toolbars. Back to the Future anyone?

    kaled




    msg:1583617
     12:21 am on Jun 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

    The last time I checked, it was easy to get msdn to work with Opera - you just set the user agent to IE.

    I think that pretty much says it all so far as MS is concerned.

    I don't have the most uptodate version of Opera but I think the developers should spend more time testing - every release has its own bugs. Have they added auto-complete to the address box yet? That's Firefox's best feature.

    Kaled.

    Hester




    msg:1583618
     9:55 am on Jun 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

    I've always been able to type part of a name into Opera and it autocompletes it - is that what you mean? Eg: 'widgets' should go to 'www.widgets .com'. What I find is it also works better than IE by finding non dot com names as well for you, eg a dot net. Try it.

    As for bugs, Opera has about as many as Firefox. They do work hard to fix them - witness the new version 8.01 with many fixes (check the changelog) and improvements. Of course some long-standing ones remain, perhaps because they are so deeply routed that it is hard to fix them without breaking the whole browser. But at least (unlike Microsoft, until recently) they are improving their browser slowly but surely. IE has a lot of catching up to do.

    mattglet




    msg:1583619
     11:42 am on Jun 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

    Have they added auto-complete to the address box yet? That's Firefox's best feature.

    If that's Firefox's best feature, they have a problem ;)

    kaled




    msg:1583620
     12:39 pm on Jun 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

    By "autocomplete", I mean that if I type auto into the address bar, I'll get a selection of websites displayed in a drop-down list that begin with auto.

    As for fixing bugs, when I sent them some code that clearly demonstrated a basic error, they wrote back and said the error didn't exist.

    Have they fixed the bug that prevents visual configuration settings being saved in Win 2000 yet?

    Don't get me wrong - I like Opera, but instead of adding features for which there is no demand, they should fix the bugs.

    Oh yes, and why on earth does the javascript console open in a separate window when in tabbed-browsing mode? That's both silly and annoying.

    Kaled.

    mattglet




    msg:1583621
     1:49 pm on Jun 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

    Have they fixed the bug that prevents visual configuration settings being saved in Win 2000 yet?

    Can you elaborate?

    kaled




    msg:1583622
     5:31 pm on Jun 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

    If you customise the buttons, etc. these settings are preserved under XP and lost under Win2000. Don't know about other versions of Windows.

    I don't bother reporting bugs anymore... apart from the basic rendering error I mentioned above, I reported a basic javascript error which was not fixed until the next but one update (and didn't exist in the previous version). That report did not even receive a proper reply.

    I also have a script that runs perfectly but reports an error in the javascript console!

    Kaled.

    mattglet




    msg:1583623
     10:21 pm on Jun 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

    Hmm, I'm on Win2k now, and my Opera is customized to the max.

    Hester




    msg:1583624
     8:30 am on Jun 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

    I also have a script that runs perfectly but reports an error in the javascript console!

    A true error, or a warning about using W3C methods?

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