Many people —and other reviewers— have praised the free, cross-platform and open source Opera browser because of its speed, small footprint, and low demand on resources. Others have applauded its facility to capture screenshots even from websites that prevent it, or because of its built-in VPN. On the other hand, I also love Opera for its URL presentation, something I haven’t seen mentioned in other reviews. At least I have observed that feature in Opera’s macOS and Android version. Opera is also available for basic phones, Linux, USB and Windows. Ahead I’ll cover that benefit in more detail.
URL visual presentation in Opera
At least in its Android and macOS version, the free Opera browser shows URLs in the absolute cleanest way possible, while truncating (hiding) the standard protocol prefix and separators, like HTTPS:// (indicating a secure connection, via a TLS/SSL certificate, which has been a Google decree since 2014) or (yikes) HTTP:// (which indicates the lack of a secure connection).
Also, when deserved by a complete HTTPS connection, the Opera browser (at least in its Android and macOS versions) displays a green padlock, as shown above.
URL visual presentation in Chrome
In 2018, Google’s Chrome browser sadly retired the use of the green-colored padlock in favor of a grey one. In Chrome version 69, it also briefly truncated the protocol and separator (HTTPS:// or HTTP://) as it it were following Opera and Safari. However, Chrome version 69 also took the additional step of truncating subdomains, including WWW and others. That specific move caused a huge amount of complaints from the Internet community, since many had security concerns regarding possible phishing attacks. Rather than simply refraining from truncating subdomains, the Google Chrome team sadly made a 180-degree retreat and also refrained again from truncating the protocol (HTTPS:// or HTTP://) and separators. That is sad, because Chrome is even worse now (in this esthetic respect) than it was before, since in the process it unfortunately lost the green padlock too.
URL visual presentation in Safari
At least as long as I can recall, Apple’s Safari has always truncated the protocol and prefix (HTTPS:// or HTTP://), but only displays a green padlock if the website owner has purchased a much more expensive TLS/SSL certificate called EV (extended verification) which I have seen on very few occasions and cannot justify its price for this reason only, considering that the Safari browser has less then 6% of Internet traffic. Perhaps there are some applications where an EV certificate is required for other reasons, but I don’t find it justifiable just to make the padlock go from grey to green in a browser with such a small percentage. This does not mean that it is a bad browser just because it has a small usage percentage. The Opera browser has an even smaller percentage, but fortunately does show the green padlock with standard TLS/SSL certificates.
Chrome extensions in Opera
Fortunately, many extensions made for Chrome can work in Opera too.
Conclusions and related article
I believe that the Opera browser’s approach to truncating the protocol and separator (HTTPS:// or HTTP://) while maintaining the subdomain (when present) and green padlock (when deserved) is both the best user experience and the best branding experience for the website. See my related article 5 reasons to remove WWW from your website (illustrated below) in Medium.
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