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back to article Mozilla tames Firefox tab monster with Candy

Mozilla is testing a new Firefox interface designed to tame that seemingly endless string of tabs stretching across the top of your browser – and beyond. Known as Tab Candy, this alpha prototype provides a separate window where you can lay out your tabs like playing cards and sort them into groups. You can move tabs from group …

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Alert

Trees are better

You can group them much more quickly and still have all of your tabs available when you want. Other options include tab mix plus for multiple rows, but sorting all your tabs into a tree really rules.

https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/5890/

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Welcome

Could be better...

While that's an interesting idea, you're going to be wasting more time organizing tabs than actually doing stuff...now if there was a mouse gesture, it might be better... I still think that chrome is great because i never seem to have this problem...and that's with around 12 tabs open at any time...Just pop them around, and if i get tired of the clutter, i pop one out and pop other ones onto it...

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Firefox does that too

You can click and drag tabs to reorder them and drag them to the task bar to open them in a new window.

This new tab tech is great because its additional functionality that's hidden when you don't need it but there if you do need it. Like ABS breaking!

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Oh, splendid

Just what I've always thought Firefox's UI was lacking: something to make it a bit more like the GIMP. I have been literally *begging* the devs to dispense with this silly repetitious Ctrl+Tab method of tab switching, and the prospect of switching to a different window, pissing about with another absurd visual metaphor, then switching back to the actual browser to see what my flailings have wrought sounds like just the tonic!

And please guys, don't even *think* of making it optional, since it's so obviously something that we'll all fall head-over-heels in love with and simply wonder how we ever got along without it.

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JDX
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Joke

re:Oh, splendid

I'm sorry, did you just accuse the GIMP of being something we should as an example of GOOD UI?

ROFL.

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*whoosh*

Das ist alles.

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Anonymous Coward

Read the post again...

@JDX

Er, go back and read the original post again. Just a hint of sarcasm there, no?

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FAIL

Re: re:Oh, splendid

Think you need to do a little more work on your sarcasm detection skills there, JDX.

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sarcasm

I oersonally found 'Oh, splendid's sarcasm to be perfect, just subtle enough yet dripping with venom.

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no

I think he was being sarcastic.

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Hot damn!

WANT!

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FAIL

Or...

..you could simply browse a few sites at a time. If you have more than 5 tabs open, how much attention are you giving to any one tab anyway? What's the point of adding another layer of tab management, which will simply take more time away from actually reading the pages?

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Tab Control add-on solves tab bar clutter already

Hate to spoil the fun, but there's already an add-on that solves this problem: Tab Control. Just set the width of your tabs to 30 pixels & bingo, your tabs slim down to only show the website icon (which is all you really need).

https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/1480/

As for grouping like-minded websites, just open a new browser window when you expect to launch several similar websites & they will automatically be grouped together.

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FAIL

Great...?

Great; as long as all sites have website icons - and the sites that have web site icons are familiar enough to me that I recognise them in an instant - and I don't have too many pages from the same site open...

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folders?

It looks like a similar concept to the iPhone OS4 folders feature.

We want innovation not imitation but it still looks very nice and useful!

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Stop

Title?

Because Apple invented folders, right?

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He didn't claim Apple invented folders

The reason he made the iOS4 reference is because the Tab Candy system creates a container structure when one web page is dragged on top of another, which is exactly the same way iOS4 allows you to group applications. It's the mechanism that is the same, he's not trying to claim Apple invented folders.

You seem to be displaying signs of typical kneejerk anti-Apple fanboyism, where anything that seems vaguely positive about Apple must be stamped on immediately.

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Looks overcomplicated

I guess it's for people who never close their browser, or have it configured it to reopen with all their old tabs, but I never do that so... it's just more bloat. Yuck.

I would like some kind of tree or tier based system, but switching to a whole separate window looks like a waste of time. For now, using a separate browser window like bhotaling said seems to be the most practical solution.

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Tend to agree..

I use Opera: Speed dial , with the tab bar on the right (or left for left-handers :) ) , does a similar job to this Mozilla effort.

I guess the extra complications might appeal to web freaks or web designers who might to keep so many tabs 'live' at one time.

New slogan for laptop users in an energy crisis:

'Save Power! Close a tab ! '

:)

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Tabs or Bookmarks?

A tab is a loaded webpage = memory usage. A bookmark is virtually memory free.

Why not make the same feature but for bookmarks - or an option to have the feature use one or the other or either depending on your preference.

I don;t need that many tabs open, ever, but have a great many bookmarks. Being able to order my bookmarks in the same spatial manner would be a definite plus.

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Bookmark Organisation

" Being able to order my bookmarks in the same spatial manner would be a definite plus. "

You can create named folders in the bookmark container. Those folders can contain more folders and......bookmarks. As you run your cursor down the list of bookmarks folders, they pop out to form their own windowed list, etc. (Have I misunderstood what you were wanting?)

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Boffin

@Zimmer

Lets, face, it if we ignore IE (if only we could) then Firefox is the LAST browser to come out with something like this. Though arguably it all started with Foxpose which was pretty great, which pre-dates the features in Safari and Opera, but was itself a blatant rip off of the Expose feature of Apple's OSX.

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Boffin

tree or tier based system

you mean kinda like how Opera has been doing it for a few years?

On my server, i still run 9.64, and I have ~ 300 tabs open, in a bunch of groups. It would be unworkable without this. Ho long has the functionality been there? Well, that Opera's been running the same session since July 2008...

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Heart

I think I may have just fallen in love...

...only worry is that they're gonna have to follow through on the bit about removing some tabs from the memory or my system is going to permanently grind to a halt!

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Big Brother

Usefulness and security

A few thoughts:

1. Will I just spend excessive time moving tabs about?

2. I'm already starting a new browser window when I start a new group of related tabs, is this better?

3. A helper extension can start suggesting other pages related to a group... who controls that? Could be a very useful propaganda tool (start a group on evolution, it fills up with "intelligent design" pages, or Tienanmen and it fills up with pro-government analyses), or marketing (search for cameras, the "best deals" page you see is the one that gives the biggest kickback to the extension developer), which, inevitably, leads to tab spam (every group you start gets a "buy viagra" page).

4. Security. You can zoom out and see your friends' tab groups?! You'll have to be able to control who sees what, but it will be a pain to remember to do it all the time, and how will organisations control what "friends" of their employees see? It's not just in the workplace, your R&D staff might casually browse something related to your top secret project while at home or in a coffee shop. At the moment, that's a risk a spy would have to be lucky to exploit, candy could make it a lot easier and more reliable.

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Pint

applaud innovation - perceive the potential benefits

How many people insist on thinking that their way is best? Go read De Bono on thinking.

Fab ideas - nothing on the video that I find any concerns with - all 6 hats off to Mozilla!

The productivity gain for researchers and teams of researchers is tangible even without running the alpha version.

To be clear:

"Trees are..." NOT better - visual methods of organising things can benefit how the human brain works; see Buzan on mindmaps

"just open a new browser window", "30 pixel tab width" WTF? You want 8 windows - fighting for screen real estate due to multiple windows everywhere?? Or tabs that give no clue to their contents due to miniscule sizing?? get your coat or engage your brain!

@ Knox - I am so glad that your web searching needs are so simple, but this innovation will not adversely affect you, so why are you being negative? Stretch your mind and think of someone busy researching multiple threads/topics/ and finding a dozen more whilst researching the first 10... Of course! many of these will be URLs that the researcher needs to return/give time to later: Candy will be of immense benefit for these people. And then there is the ability to share researches with collaborators... lots of innovation whose relevance to others you need only imagine.

@mlo0352 - if 12 tabs is the limit of your needs, then there is no problem in Firefox either... things get less manageable, as the video described, when 12 becomes 25 becomes 35+ ... the Chrome tab/pop-out functionality is present in Firefox too - it is screen area and human ability to remember and organise researches that limit the outcome of tab use above a certain threshold.

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Meh

""""30 pixel tab width" WTF? You want ... tabs that give no clue to their contents due to miniscule sizing??"""

I regularly run ~80 tabs on a 1280 pixel wide laptop screen, all Opera shows me is scaled down versions of the fav icon. And guess what, I still know which tabs to click. On a desktop, my web browser is currently 1925x1214 pixels, and I have about 100 tabs open, and I can easily find them because of 2 of Opera's features: Open new tab next to current - keeps my various tasks clustered in regions of the task bar, and the right click + scroll menu that pops up with tab titles (and optionally thumbnails, but I don't need that.)

I haven't seen the text on my tabs in months, and that spatial memory they talk about in the video lets me go right back to where I was. And if a tab or two get separated from their mates, I can drag and drop them into place, have been able to for years, no extensions.

Firefox's 12 tab limit is fully self-imposed, not some law of screen real estate, and this feature seems to be to be a bizarre and over-complicated approach to fixing it. Firefox's default tab behavior has been for years poor enough for me to choose IE7 over FF 2/3 on other people's machines, where I don't have time to install and configure all the extensions required to make FF mimic Opera's sane tab handling. I don't think this feature will change that, especially since IE8 is about the same speed as firefox these days.

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FF does it..

"and I have about 100 tabs open, and I can easily find them because of 2 of Opera's features: Open new tab next to current - keeps my various tasks clustered in regions of the task bar, and the right click + scroll menu that pops up with tab titles (and optionally thumbnails, but I don't need that.)"

FF does the new tab next to current and does the right click scroll bit.

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Seems reasonable to me

This seems like a nifty idea. I frequently now find my browsing goes off the end of the strip and there are lots of cases where I have a dozen tabs or more on one particular topic, which I'd like to put away as one thing and come back to later.

The UI seems fair enough - provided it's only a keystroke away - and really, what's not to like? It's something different, worth a try, see how it works out.

@Havin_it ("And please guys, don't even *think* of making it optional...") - of course it's optional. Just don't hit the keystroke and you'll never see it.

@Steven Knox - I agree it's unlikely you're paying attention to more than five tabs at a time (well, perhaps a dozen). But I often find I'm paying attention to a particular dozen now, and in five minutes I'm looking at a different dozen, so I could see this working very well (for me, anyway).

It's hard work to be firefox just now. Do an evolutionary change and you're slapped for copying other browsers; suggest something new and you're slapped for being new. I'm starting to wonder if El Reg's readers are getting on a bit - our comments pages do make us sound like a bunch of reactionary old farts sometimes...

Alastair

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Re-inventing desktop

Aren't they just re-inventing the desktop here?

I just open a new browser instance in order to group my tabs.

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exaxtly

The time the user has spent organising all his tabs into groups, most people would have retrieved the information from the pages they had opened.

Opening a new browser window is much faster.

However, I see this being a nice way to organise bookmarks on a future tablet.

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Go

Clunky as all H3ll ....

... but I just open several instances of Firefox each for different uses: financial, news, IT crap, hobbies, porn, and etc. Clunkiest solution I could come up with but it works ... when I use it. Other than That I just shut down and start over. Since I save no saved passwords or IDs and I have everything of interest bookmarked it works for me. But then I'm simple.

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FAIL

Tab Bar still sucks

And I already have extensions to search my tabs. This seems like more pointless cruft that I don't need - My tree tab bar already can deal with hundreds of Tabs.

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Megaphone

The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

Don't really see the point, there are about a dozen tab organising extensions, several of which do more than this (I use Tab Mix Plus, myself).

Why do Mozilla developers insist on sticking things in core Firefox? Remember when it was supposed to be lean and mean? Implement the damn thing as an extension. By all means ship it with Firefox, but allow us to turn it off or un-install if we want

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WTF?

I don't eve.

I don't get it; I've only ever got like 3 or 4 tabs open at a time...?

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Open source Rip

Oh this is _so_ a rip off the Microsoft table GUI where the person can use their fingers to separate pictures into groups and stacks.

Nice though!

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What's the point?

You move through windows with Alt-Tab and through tabs with Ctrl-Tab, other that that the only difference between tabs and windows is that with tabs all the sites are shown the same size, which is a bad idea. I normally have 30 to 50 windows open and it's really easy to control - tabs would just be a mess. For a clean desktop, just go to another one. Basically only people with a limited number of desktops are going to have a use for this.

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Anonymous Coward

if you have 30-50

windows open at any one time, you really need to get a girlfriend.

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Go

Oh Man ...

... you get it! Th e only tab that counts are those that are on the . huh ... oops wifey is looking over my shoulder better not say that. Damn...brb...

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Flame

Also...

It's sad when Mozilla developers don't know you can open a new tab next to the active one.

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Anonymous Coward

Already here, no?

But... what's wrong with using a new window to group tabs? You can already drag and drop tabs from one window to the next.

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Black Helicopters

countdown to infringement notice

while this is interesting, i wonder when it will ever be possible to release it since the things are so screwed up with software patents in america.

Let's start a timer to receiving a patent infringement notice because i think it will definitely happen.

some aspects of this demo are already patented. On a quick & dirty search i can find this:

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/7747626.html

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/7673233.html

both by Microsoft

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Confusing bookmarks and tabs

It looks pretty cool, but a lot of what was presented in that video seems to be confusing bookmarks and tabs. Tabs should be what I'm looking at right now, or have queued up to read shortly.

Organising groups of related subject matter to return to is more of a bookmarks thing, surely? Most of the groups in the video would be more appropriate as bookmarks than open tabs, until you are actually wanting to read them.

On the other hand, this does provide an opportunity to combine the two concepts into a single UI metaphor of 'pages I am interested in', but I have doubts as to whether the browser will get it right about which ones should be in memory and which should not, and which should persist after being closed and which should be forgotten.

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Happy

Bookmark != tab

I would think that having one concept for 'bookmark' and another concept for 'tab' would be enough reason to have a management tool for both. We've had a bookmark management tool for years, before tabs even evolved. Name them, attach descriptions, organise them into folders, and these days, sync them to remote servers and add metadata and whatnot.

Tabs evolved, but the management tools for these are evolving separately to those for bookmarks, and currently the meta-information tools relating to tabs are pretty simple. So I don't think there's any confusion going on; I believe there's a good reason to keep the concept of 'bookmark' and 'tab' separate, because of the way we use each.

Everyone likes a metaphor, so I hope this is a good one. Imagine your browser bookmarks (linking to websites) are the books on your shelf. You own them, but you're not reading them right now. Imagine your tabs (websites you have open) are books you are reading right now. I often have a couple of books on the go, and I'm reading them for different reasons (Jim recommended this one, my brother lent me this one, etc). You want to manage the books you're currently reading, which are probably scattered around your life (home, work etc) close at hand, and think about them differently to the much larger list of books on your shelf. I have many more open tabs at any time than books on the go, so a management tool would be a worthy thing to have.

Having said all this, I agree with another poster here, I just keeps tabs organised into groups by opening a new Firefox window and grouping tabs in each window. For me, it's a benefit that when I restart the browser all those tabs go away, clearing up system memory giving me a fresh start. I have 4 virtual desktops (under Linux) which makes it simple to keep entire Firefox windows, and all their tabs, organised so they don't conflict on my screen.

Things I do currently miss, having seen Tab Candy, is an ability to easily move tabs between windows (when you've started browsing news and now have 6 tabs open in the same window you had your work in and want to separate the two - you can drag each tab but I usually find this quite cumbersome), and an ability to share a browsing session with another person so they see the same tabs open that you do. Integration with an instant messaging API or social networking API would be favourite.

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true, but

That's just the thing this is addressing: the fact that a lot of people end up using tabs just like bookmarks, because bookmarking is more of an archiving activity with no capability of saying "this is what's currently on my radar." There needs to be a happy medium available for things that are still "open" but not "actively being looked at this second".

I myself experience this conundrum all the time, but the difference is that if i run out of time/desire to look at all of my open tabs, i neither leave them open nor properly bookmark them, but rather drag them into my Bookmarks Toolbar, which is the closest thing to the tab bar but of course doesn't bog down the performance :). Needless to say, my solution is also quite disorganized and unsatisfactory.

I think you make a quite valid point however that there is a lot of overlap between this new interface and good old bookmarks. In fact, once this thing matures sufficiently, I wouldn't be surprised if it negates the need for bookmarks entirely for many users. However, it is undoubtedly better to let the users ease into this new paradigm and then realize that bookmarks are no longer needed, than to force them into it by removing bookmarks from the browser at this early stage.

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Hmm, solving a problem that isn't really there?

Whilst it looks nice and seems to work well, I don't actually see it as a problem that needs solving.

If I have too many tabs open in FireFox and want to group similar ones together, I just drag one off to the task bar which pops it into a new window on it's own, and then drag the similar ones to that window. Different tabs in different groups (windows). Done.

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agreed

its a slow fiddly way of opening a new window for a new group of tabs.

either ctrl+n and start your new set of tabs or shift click a link.

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tabs

Simply drag a tab onto another to group it in to a super tab....

Clicking this tab reveals a new tab line underneath. Then in this tab line....

Simply drag a tab onto another to group it in to a super tab....

Clicking this tab reveals a new tab line underneath. Then in this tab line....

Simply drag a tab onto another to group it in to a super tab....

Clicking this tab reveals a new tab line underneath. Then in this tab line....

Simply drag a tab onto another to group it in to a super tab....

Clicking this tab reveals a new tab line underneath. Then in this tab line....

Simply drag a tab onto another to group it in to a super tab....

Clicking this tab reveals a new tab line underneath. Then in this tab line....

tab tastic.

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Are people still using horizontal tabs?

My screens are much wider than they are tall, so I use Tree Style Tabs and list my Tabs vertically.

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Coat

Out of mind...

out of sight?

So if I stop thinking about something it'll disappear?

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