Dear Opera,

I’ve heard a lot about you, and some people think you’re really cool, so I thought I’d give you a chance. You’re really nice and fast, have a small memory footprint, and have good support for standards. You even got rid of those annoying ads that plagued you for so long (kudos for that).

Most of the things I write with standards in mind just work. Most of them. For the others that don’t work, though, I’m pretty much stumped. I’m relegated back to the world of periodic alerts and output to your console. I have no way to debug my JavaScript, no way to interact with the browser, no way to interrogate the DOM…in short, you have no developer tools, and I’m tired of it.

If you want to be a valid fourth options for a web browser, we need developer tools and we need them right now. I know you think you’re providing something with your developer console, but a juiced-up bookmarklet is not a development tool. I need something outside of the window I’m interrogating. Every other browser has a JavaScript debugger, where’s yours? For other browsers, I can find out what’s been implemented either through extensive documentation or, where it’s not provided, through browsing the source code. With you, I get neither.

I want to like you, Opera, I really do. But the fact is that you’re the friend I have to walk on eggshells around because I don’t know what’s going to cause you to blow up. There’s no rhyme, no reason. It’s almost not worth trying.

So please Opera, please come up with some decent developer tools. Or at the very least, release documentation for every method, property, and object you’ve implemented in JavaScript. I assume you can run an automatic documentation generator on your source code, so why not do it? It will make me like you more and maybe, just maybe, this relationship can be saved.

Sincerely,
Nicholas C. Zakas

Disclaimer: Any viewpoints and opinions expressed in this article are those of Nicholas C. Zakas and do not, in any way, reflect those of my employer, my colleagues, Wrox Publishing, O'Reilly Publishing, or anyone else. I speak only for myself, not for them.

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