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Tech Journal: Enjoying the Web with Vivaldi

Tech Journal is a monthly column about using tech in daily life by Christopher Rogers. You can read earlier entries here

No, not the Baroque composer, Vivaldi is a new browser aiming for power and customizability, not mass appeal.

Sitting down to write a tech journal about a web browser seems really dry. Even to me. But how much of your day do you spend tucked away inside Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox or Safari? As a part-time web developer and full-time writer, my answer is “most of it.”

And when you spend most of your computer time inside a browser that just feels right it’s amazing how little time you spend fighting the technology and how much time you spend enjoying the Web.

That’s how I felt the first time I installed Vivaldi.

Vivaldi is a new browser from some of the same people who brought you Opera. There’s a long story behind the developer split, and it’s an interesting read if you’re into that kind of thing, but all you really need to know is that Opera was (and still is) a long-standing power-user browser that many feel abandoned its core users in favour of mass appeal.

Part of the Vivaldi team, including ex-Opera CEO Jon S. von Tetzchner (third from left).

Vivaldi’s homepage reads “A new browser for our friends,” those friends are of course, the power-users — the same ones who felt alienated by Opera’s change.

Hands on.

You may remember from past articles, that I like shortcuts. Anything to keep my hands on the keyboard. Vivaldi takes shortcuts further by providing touches like a quick command filter, that lets me find a shortcut I might have forgotten, and search through everything, including open tabs with a single command. It’s like Finder for your browser.

On the customization front the default layout is just a starting point. Want the address bar on the bottom? Maybe a stack of tabs on the right side? Perhaps you’d rather your bookmarks bar to only display icons (my favourite). This is all achieved quickly in Vivaldi. The browser also achieves a modern, almost minimal visual style without sacrificing features. One of my favourite features is that it takes a site’s major colours and uses them to style the address and tabs bar.

Vivaldi’s customization options are fantastic, and it hasn’t even been released yet.

One of Vivaldi’s new features, notes, allows users to take screenshots of webpages and add text notes, saving them for later, and all within the browser. This is a fantastic tool for web designers who need to revisit pages and take notes while on the go (this was a feature of the old Opera).

Some features are still in development.

One of the most underrated breakthroughs for browsers in the last 15 years has been tabbed browsing, but too many tabs can quickly lead to a slow mess and total disorganization. Vivaldi tries to address this problem using tab stacks, letting users add multiple tabs to a single stack, so you can stay organized even if you can’t resist opening another new window.

Right now.

While I am currently loving Vivaldi and use it as a secondary browser almost daily, I can’t wholeheartedly recommend everyone make the jump, yet. The feature set is currently under development (including a mail tab in your browser!), and it’s impressive, but there are still too many pieces in-progress to rush off and install it right away. Vivaldi looks like it will eventually be great and I would absolutely suggest checking out the preview if you’re interested in what’s to come. I just hope the future comes soon.

Do you have a favourite browser or feature? Share your thoughts in the comments

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Christopher is Co-Founder and Managing Editor at The Reply. He has a fondness for strong coffee, good books and foreign news services. When he was five years old his father helped him raise a family of chimpmunks over the winter, you should ask him about it. Professionally, he’s spent time as a technology journalist, PR consultant, and freelance blogger. Christopher’s work has appeared in a lot of trade magazines you’ve probably never heard of and maybe some you have. He has a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Toronto and a certificate in Media Foundations from Humber College in Toronto.