Konqueror 4.0 brings some vast improvements.

KDE 4.0 was released several days back, and thanks to the KDE Four Live CD, I was able to give it a try with very little effort. Having used it for about a day and a half now, I’d like to share some of my impressions of this new release of KDE. Specifically, I will be focusing on the Konqueror 4.0 Web browser. But please keep in mind that I have not performed any formal studies or benchmarking, and what follows is merely my opinion.

Qt 4.3 is phenomenal. The KDE 4.0 applications in general, including Konqueror 4.0, feel far more responsive than in the past. Menus open without any noticeable delay. The scrolling of Web pages has a beautiful fluidity. The major effort that Trolltech has put into Qt over the past few years has surely paid off, and the results are immediately visible.

One other major benefit of Konqueror 4.0 is that it still feels very much like Konqueror 3.x, in terms of its appearance and layout. Long-time Konqueror users won’t have to adjust to a new menu layout, or anything of the sort. In many ways, this just further indicates the maturity of Konqueror. It has had a very clean organization and interface going back several years now, and the Konqueror developers apparently knew not to change what was already working so well.

One thing that has changed is the Konqueror configuration dialog. It has been reorganized, and I think for the better. The general layout of the configuration options is similar to that of Konqueror 3.x, but it should now be easier for users to find the settings they wish to change. Nevertheless, the default settings are quite sensible, and should work fine for most users.

The JavaScript implementation, KJS, has undergone some significant optimization. Various JavaScript-intensive Web sites, such as Digg, that used to run slowly under certain versions of Konqueror 3.x now work perfectly fine with Konqueror 4.0. I think it would be interesting to see some benchmarks comparing the performance of the new version of KJS with that of other JavaScript or ECMAScript implementations, including Mozilla’s SpiderMonkey, Mozilla and Adobe’s Tamarin, Opera’s linear_b and Opera’s futhark.

One feature I particularly like is that the ‘Go’ menu now sports a ‘Closed Tabs’ submenu, which lists browser tabs that have recently been closed. This is of course a major benefit for when a tab or tabs are accidentally closed. By using that menu, it is possible to return to those pages quite quickly, and with little effort. The ‘Undo’ menu item of the ‘Edit’ menu now also allows for the restoration of a tab that was just closed.

We have to keep in mind that Konqueror 4.0, and KDE 4.0 for that matter, are still quite young. This is a fact that the KDE developers themselves freely admit. Nevertheless, KDE 4.0 proves to be a very suitable platform upon which the KDE developers can continue to build and optimize. It gives me a good feeling to see this high level of quality so early on in KDE 4’s lifetime. I have no doubt that it will get even better as time goes on. And to all of the contributors who have put in countless hours working on KDE 4 and Konqueror 4, thank you for your effort!

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