When Opera Software announced that it would switch from the company's own -- developed and controlled -- Presto engine to Webkit / Blink, many Opera users felt as if a world had just ended.
Not only did it mean that Opera would change significantly -- no one at that time knew how much -- but also that Opera Software would lose control over the development process.
It quickly became clear that the first versions of the new Opera browser did not even come close to what the old offered. Even basic features, such as support for proper bookmarking, data synchronization, themes or proper tab management, were not supported by the browser.
To make matters worse, support for the classic browser died off more or less in that time. This was especially troublesome for Linux users, as Linux is not yet supported by the new Opera web browser.
The Otter browser project aims to provide web users who like the classic Opera interface and functionality with an alternative.
A first -- very early -- alpha release has been released by its author in 2014. It is available in binary form and source code, and while it does not resemble the classic Opera browser in many regards right now, it is already supporting features such as bookmarks or a separate search bar option that the Chromium-based Opera browser lacks.
The FAQ on the project website offers answers to several questions that users may have when they hear about the project for the first time.
The browser is based on the QtWebKit, but the author plans to add support for other browser engines through QtWebEngine as well. This means however that it won't support the Presto rendering engine as it is not available for third-party use.
The uathor notes furthermore that Otter won't be a 1:1 clone of Opera. It will lack some features, Unity or widget supports for instance, and improve others.
One interesting aspect of Otter is that it is created as a modular browser, which means that it will be possible to replace components of the browser with others. A mail client will be integrated into the browser as well, adding another feature that the new Opera browser is missing.
You can browse the web using the alpha version of the Otter browser. Since it is an early version, you should expect issues while you are browsing the Internet.
Features such as a popup blocker, session management, bookmarking, or privacy features such as do not track are already available.
Others, especially those that let you modify the user interface, are not implemented yet. This means that the UI is as static as that of the Chrome or Opera (new) browser right now.
The ToDo list highlights features and priorities that the developer plans to integrate into the browser. At the top of the list are a password manager, proxy configurations, page specific preferences and a start page.
The Otter browser project started as a one-man project and if it would have stayed that way, it may have taken the same route as many other ambitious projects have taken. According to the lead developer, others have already made contributions to the project, so that it is less likely that this will happen here.
Still, in all fairness, the project has a long way to go before it reaches the level of Opera 12.x or other modern web browsers.
If you like the classic Opera browser, you may keep an eye on this one to see how it progresses.