Remember when the web were navigators useful tools? Remember when you could follow the sites you like, check your email, and view your calendar, all without leaving your browser? Or, I must say, remember when you can do all this without Big Tech feeding your personal data into the false bugs of surveillance capitalism?
I remember those days because I still live in them, thanks to a web browser you might not have heard of: Vivaldi.
This week, the team behind the web browser Vivaldi released version 4.0, which seems like a good time for me to tell you that you need to try it. To reflect Neil Stephenson, Vivaldi surpasses all other web browsers “in much the same way that the midday sun makes the stars … it’s not only bigger and brighter; it simply makes everything else disappear.”
Customization is Key
Stephenson was actually speaking of the Emacs text editor, that endless recursion makes the programmer Holy Grail of text editors. But I think the metaphor also applies to Vivaldi, compared to other web browsers. I don’t think it’s a piece to say Vivaldi it is the Emac of web browsers.
Vivaldi’s CEO, Jon von Tetzchner, was also the co-founder of Opera, one of the first web browsers to have features such as popup blocking and tabbed browsing. The level of customization and power user features that distinguish Opera are present today in Vivaldi as well, with much more.
At first glance, Vivaldi looks like a slightly more colorful version of your average web browser – mirroring the colors of the web page is a notable Vivaldi feature that Apple has shamelessly copied into Safari. It’s only when you dig into Vivaldi’s parameters that you discover his true power: The ability to tailor your browsing experience exactly how you want it.
Like Emacs, Vivaldi’s setup and experience can all be different, and that’s the point. Vivaldi’s tag line is “A web browser for our friends”. For “our friends”, Vivaldi means people like you and me-Assuming, of course, that you are someone who is on the web to do the work and stay in touch with your friends, instead of consuming the whims and algorithms of Big Tech.
For example, I like keyboard shortcuts and have never used a mouse gesture in my life. Vivaldi supports both. I take advantage of customizable keyboard shortcuts and ignore mouse gestures, and everyone wins. Vivaldi 4.0 recognizes this with a new dialog that offers some predefined features: Essential Elements, Classic, or my favorite, Fully Loaded.