Hands-on with new web browser Vivaldi

Earlier this year a team made up of a number of alumni from Opera Software announced they were working on a new web browser called Vivaldi.

Headed up by Opera Software co-founder Jon von Tetzchner, Vivaldi would target the user who struggles to fit all their open tabs on one screen.

Before the new browser was announced, Vivaldi also offered a social platform to replace the My Opera portal – which was shut down on 1 March 2014.

Vivaldi is based on Google’s open source browser project Chromium, the same project on which Google Chrome is built.

According to the Vivaldi site, one of the things that makes the browser unique is that it is built on modern web technologies.

“We use JavaScript and React to create the user interface – with the help of Node.js, Browserify, and a long list of NPM modules. Vivaldi is the web built with the web.”

Currently in its second technical preview, Vivaldi offers a solid set of features, though it still lacks support for extensions or plugins.

To get an idea of what to expect from Vivaldi, we downloaded the 1.0.151.7 snapshot  which is more current than Technical Preview 2.

Quick Commands

Vivaldi quick commands interface
Vivaldi quick commands interface

One of the interesting features of Vivaldi is its “Quick Commands” interface.

For now, the quick command bar is limited to actions such as searching through your history, open tabs, bookmarks, and settings, and seeing a list of keyboard shortcuts.

One of its most useful properties is being able to type a single character to specify a site with a search engine, and then typing your query without first having to navigate to that site.

Typing “w List of common misconceptions” will take you to the English Wikipedia, for example.

Notes

Vivaldi Notes interface
Vivaldi Notes interface

A feature that is hopefully still in its infancy, Vivaldi lets you create notes which you can link to a URL and to which you can attach screenshots and other image files.

Speed Dials

Vivaldi 1.0.151.7 Speed Dial showing a folder and site screenshot
Vivaldi 1.0.151.7 Speed Dial showing a folder and site screenshot

The speed dial has become a staple feature in modern web browsers.

Vivaldi lets you add websites to a dashboard, automatically creating a thumbnail image from a screenshot of the site.

You can also create folders on the speed dial, and then choose to open all the sites in that folder from the right click menu.

Tab Stacks

Vivaldi tab stacks and tab previews
Vivaldi tab stacks and tab previews

Another feature making its way from Opera with a bit of an aesthetic change is Tab Stacks.

This lets you create groups of tabs by dragging one tab onto another. You can then get a preview of all the sites in the stack by hovering your mouse cursor over its tab.

More on the way

Vivaldi download dialog
Vivaldi download dialog
Vivaldi download panel
Vivaldi download panel

Vivaldi has promised it is developing a number of features for the browser, including mail, cross-device sync of settings and sessions, spatial navigation using only the keyboard, and extensions.

Von Tetzchner told Reuters they are also working on a mobile version of the browser.

With so many popular desktop browsers on the market, and mobile browsers essentially determined by the manufacturer and operating system, one can’t help but wonder whether there’s room for another browser in what appears to be a saturated market.

That said, Vivaldi has some interesting ideas that could be exactly what many tech-savvy users need.

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Hands-on with new web browser Vivaldi