I have a browser first work-flow. As such, I depend little on applications (which only increase the privacy-attack surface). Like everyone, I like to pursue write-ups on “increasing efficiency”. Unlike everyone, I stick to unconventional platforms. Vivaldi is a browser-platform hiding in plain sight. It took me a little time to understand what they might be doing by building a browser on top of “chromium engine or base”. (This isn’t strictly a technical post).
The browser bills itself as the most customizable browser – you can change everything from themes to keyboard shortcuts and built-in mouse gestures. However, the academic in me is excited about two things in particular notes and custom chain commands. I admit I stick to the stable builds from the company because my work-flows are critical and I can’t afford a down-time.
Here’s from the Vivaldi blog on custom-chain commands:
Custom chain commands in action:
This opens up myriad possibilities! The automation layer is being built brick-by-brick. As such, every aspect of the browser can have rich “browser-apis”
Here’s something I tweeted when they launched the update:
This adds a powerful automation layer to the browser – you can have “trigger-events” to dictate outputs. For example, assuming you highlight and save notes – it can be used to generate RSS feeds to port it to external services like Readwise. Custom-Chain commands can dictate how you like the web pages to be displayed/read by using and incorporating page-actions (for example). All of them are individual commands but the automation layer can get all these elements to play in unison. Highlighting notes can export data (in real-time) to your learning management system or create specific “journals”. User interaction can automate sending specific emails to other users or groups of users. You can automate calendar events or build rich interactions all within the browser interface.
Vivaldi has risen like a phoenix from erstwhile Opera – its presto engine was ahead of its time. In 2005-6, I was stuck using a PoP3 account from my ISP with a measly 2 MB storage. Opera Mail synced perfectly with it to allow me to take offline back-ups and store them. They are recreating the same experience after 14 years. Integrated RSS reader will allow me to leave my Inoreader behind; built-in annotation will allow me to take notes; use specific aliases to receive newsletters using Fastmail (my preferred email service for 14 years). I can use third party services to track changes in web-pages (on Telegram using bots). Vivaldi comes in with a rich “history viewer” that provides incredible insights in how I navigate knowledge resources; and a powerful bookmark manager (that replaces raindrop). All this can become possible once Vivaldi allows external interaction through its API’s, and lets developers build interactions through IFTTT like mechanisms.
Notes, Bookmarks, History- all of them will replace Hypothes.is- arguably an “open source” application, but it imposes significant limitations on the way I can use it more effectively. As such, you can restrict your data outflows through multiple extensions. Ad-Blocking can become better through “u-block” or “adguard-style” element/cosmetic filtering, while eliminating the need for them. A privacy-first browser platform for the masses.
These are all possibilities (and a speculation) and represents shower-thoughts. I am not sure if Vivaldi plans to implement them, but all the elements to create a platform are right there.