Update, Jan 2019: XML display is now supported in the latest Opera.

One of the very few things I miss about the Firefox browser, having recently swopped to Opera, is the elegant and fast display of XML inside the browser as if it were a Web page.

Until a few weeks ago Opera was able to display XML as a formatted page, albeit in a very slow and unsatisfactory manner (i.e.: with no .MP3 links showing up). But now even that the feature seems to have expired altogether, after the new Opera update. An .XML page now never loads, even when my various addons are disabled. There’s no option to ‘View Source’ either, as the page hasn’t even loaded.

Of course, you can plug the .XML URL into a dedicated desktop feedreader, such as FeedDemon, but often you don’t want to go to the trouble of doing/loading that just to check a feed. Or you may have missed the feed’s update amidst the swirl of 10,000+ other feeds in FeedDemon, and the consequent need to regularly expire older posts and de-fragment the database.

So, in this use-case you’re casually using your browser’s bookmarks system, or else have just encountered a new .XML feed. And you just want a quick peek inside that XML link to see if there’s something new there, such as a new .MP3 podcast link. You may also want the find the actual direct .MP3 download file link, rather than some stream.

In which case, here’s a very simple way to get an .XML display via Opera, for a feed/page such as longnow.org/projects/seminars/SALT.xml

1. Install the Force Download extension in Opera. It’s really simple. Anything you paste in its URL bar gets downloaded rather than displayed/played in the browser.

2. Visit your .XML link with the Opera browser. Opera totally fails to render it as a page, or fails to render fully (e.g. not showing the raw .MP3 links). In that case, click the new ‘Force Download’ icon on your toolbar. The .XML page’s URL is auto-filled in Force Download, so there’s no need to copy-paste the URL. Click OK and the .XML file is then downloaded.

3. Still within the browser, you can now double-click on the completed download, and the .XML will be opened with whatever desktop software you normally use to view XML files. A 64-bit install of Notepad++ is going to be your quickest-loading option for viewing the .XML code.

As you can see below, at the top of the .XML there’s the latest enclosure, and if you’re not scared by looking at code then it’s easy to spot and copy the direct download link. Copy it back into ‘Force Download’ in your browser, and the .MP3 downloads directly.

If you can’t see the direct link because of the line-wrapping of the XML, click the “Word wrap” button in Notepad++ to fix that…

Once you have it set up, display of raw editable .XML should never be less than a second away from your browser. You can of course also use the same workflow for other file types.

I should also mention that there are two XML display addons for Opera, via the Chrome store. I tried XML Tree but it failed to work. XML Viewer stated that the API was not fully supported in Opera and anyway had such horrendous use terms (“Modify all data you copy and paste”) that I didn’t want to risk installing it in my browser.