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  1. #1
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    Unhappy Statistics for Opera and other browser rants

    Where can I get statistics on the percentage of general computer users using Opera right now. It doesn't seem as popular as it was back in 2000. Of course, I could be wrong.

    When I check the site statistics (http://home.earthlink.net/~i2x/browser.gif), I don't see any Opera users but they do have the vague "Netscape" -- I know both uses similar engine.

    Also, who would use Opera today?

    And continuing on this rant, who would still use Netscape 3.0? In the most recent web statistics on a site I work on, .74% of the users use Netscape 3! Of course, they wouldn't see anything since the site heavily uses CSS but it's disturbing to see this.
    Last edited by vgarcia; Sep 6, 2004 at 00:55.

  2. #2
    SitePoint Wizard megamanXplosion's Avatar
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    I think that Opera is even more popular now than what it used to be. Opera is finally getting their rendering engine together, especially with the 7.x series since it was totally rewritten from scratch. The rendering engine was the major factor holding it back before, but the rendering engine is VERY good now. I think the reason Opera isn't showing up much in your statistics is probably because the stats program isn't coded correctly to detect Opera, since it can ID under multiple browser names at one time (when ID'ing as IE6, you actually identify as both IE6 AND Opera, same goes for the others). Opera users are probably getting lumped in the wrong category, it happens all the time.

    Opera and Netscape do render similarly in a lot of situations (probably where your "uses similar engine" statement came from), which is because the rendering routine is standardized by W3C. W3C takes proposed drafts, made in cooperation with Opera, Mozilla, Microsoft, etc. and puts them up for development testing, and then published as a finalized standard which is how the browser should render things. It's amazing how far off Microsoft is considering that they help make these standards. If your site works in Mozilla then it should work in Opera and vice versa, though there are a few exceptions to this rule and I won't bother going into details on the subject :P

    Who would use Opera today? Me, on my desktop and my cellphone. Speed-wise, it blows the socks off Internet Explorer and Mozilla/Netscape in almost every aspect, and it's also a lot more productive for my needs. My parents use it too, I told them not to use Mozilla or Internet Explorer since they both have security problems that have yet to be dealt with (no need to flame me folks, I'll provide justification for my statement if asked). Quite frankly, Opera is the only browser that I trust at this point in time.

    You may as well ended your rant before you started talking about NN3, I don't see how it relates to the conversation at all. There are a LOT more Opera users than there is for NN's rotting corpse. There is one thing I've noticed though, many people claim to get more hits from NN3-NN4 users after they switch to a CSS layout, because it's more accessible, which leads to something else I want to say...

    Never trust site statistics, none of them are accurate. A large part of the statistic-skewing could come from accessibility problems, I don't think anyone has seen a screen-reader come across their site because the screen render cannot access the content. Some stat programs use JavaScript, which 11% of Internet users have turned off. The majority of them use server-side technologies which is a turn for the better but they fail to correctly identify some browsers and decide to just lump them into other categories. There are also some browsers which allow the user to completely mask the user-agent string so that it doesn't even reflect the browser they're using. I've yet to see a stat program which correctly identifies everything, because it's practically impossible at this point in time.

    Just my two cents on the whole subject

  3. #3
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    Thanks for your reply Mega.

    Well, the reason why I'm frustrated is because in Opera 7 on the PC (which I have), the HTTP_REFERER doesn't work (see my PHP post at http://www.sitepoint.com/forums/showthread.php?t=193326 for more info on it). Therefore, I may have to remove this feature after spending some time on it.

    And I guess I started ranting about Netscape 3 because after testing it on Opera, I checked the site statistics (which I posted a screenshot of in the first post here) to see how many people actually use this browser and couldn't find anything on it but saw NN 3 and some other obscure browsers.

    I personally use Firefox but sometimes have to switch to IE for certain sites.

  4. #4
    Forums Designer
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    With Opera you can quickly switch on/off referer logging. Press F12 and you'll see menu.

    And in your php code always use isset() or empty() when dealing with $_SERVER/$_GET/$_POST/$_COOKIE/etc... variables because there are always situations when something isn't set.

  5. #5
    SitePoint Guru bronze trophy blufive's Avatar
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    A few points:

    Browser detection code in stats packages is very variable. Some are good, some are diabolical.

    In my experience, there aren't that many that do a good job of detecting Opera - mostly because Opera specifically pretends to be IE6 to trap people who write dodgy browser sniffers. To anyone with half a brain who bothers to look, it's easily identifiable as Opera, but to anyone who just writes a lame IE/Netscape4/what-you-mean-there-are-others script, it's IE6.

    There are lies, damn lies and statistics, too - many browser stats pages have some sort of sample bias.

    To answer your original question, based on my skill(!), judgement(!?!?!) and several anonymous sources:

    In the US, I reckon Opera has about 1-2% of general users. This rises a little amongst heavy net surfers (to maybe 2-3%) The figure is about the same in western Europe, but may be somewhat higher in Eastern Europe (3-6%)

    vague "Netscape" -- I know both use a similar engine.
    Not quite. At a code level, they're completely independent - but from an HTML/CSS point of view, recent versions of both are quite well behaved.

    Since the best stats are the ones relevant to the site being worked on, I'll make a few comments on the stats graph you linked (take all of this with a metric shedload of salt, since your sample size is very small in statistical terms, so oddities could well be caused by some sort of demographic strangeness or even random chance):
    • That Netscape 6 figure is suspiciously high, especially as Netscape 7 is nowhere to be seen - they're probably mis-identifying N7 and including it in N6
    • The lack of IE5 also looks very odd.
    • The figure for mozilla seems awfully low - but then Moz and its (many) siblings are hard to identify comprehensively. Again, they might be getting lumped into that suspiciously-high Netscape 6 figure.
    <>As for Opera, there are two likely possibilities. Either:
    • It's lurking somewhere just off the bottom of the table in the 11-20 range (like I said, 1-2% would seem about right...)
    • It's being mis-identified as IE6, and included in those figures.

  6. #6
    SitePoint Zealot Sleeper's Avatar
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    What I don't get about Opera is that I usually find that they've defaulted their "Identify" tag as IE as opposed to Opera when do a fresh install. Modesty? Or just skirting for sites looking out for that? I say the latter.

  7. #7
    SitePoint Wizard megamanXplosion's Avatar
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    Many sites still target Opera for no reason at all and it often blocks Opera users from accessing their site or using a portion of it. The MSIE6 identification default is a wise choice because it allows a lot of Opera's users to bypass poorly written pages which cause these kinds of problems, but allows serious webmasters to still target it easily. I think they made a good choice.


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