Monday, May 18, 2009

Mozilla Preparing to Move Beyond Tabbed Browsing

Via -

Mozilla Labs has launched a design competition that aims to find an alternative to tabbed browsing.

Mozilla's Firefox has helped to bring tabbed browsing to the mainstream, although rival Opera was the first well-known browser to offer tabs in 2000.

Microsoft eventually relented and introduced tabbed browsing with IE7 in 2006, but now it seems Mozilla thinks the concept may have had its day.

"Tabs worked well on slow machines on a thin internet, where ten browser sessions were 'many browser sessions'," Mozilla claims on its Design Challenge website.

"Today, 20+ parallel sessions are quite common; the browser is more of an operating system than a data display application; we use it to manage the web as a shared hard drive.

"However, if you have more than seven or eight tabs open they become pretty much useless. And tabs don't work well if you use them with heterogeneous information. They're a good solution to keep the screen tidy for the moment."

Thus, Mozilla has launched the challenge called:

"Reinventing Tabs in the Browser - How can we create, navigate and manage multiple websites within the same browser instance?"

Mozilla has already given serious thought to the idea of replacing tabbed browsing itself. Aza Raskin, the head of user experience at Mozilla Labs, has already blogged on the possibility of moving tabs down the side of the browser, with tabs grouped by the type of activity involved (i.e. applications, work spaces).

Tabs are more of a problem on mobile browsers, such as Mozilla's own Fennec, where switching between different tabs can be difficult, and the phone's limited processing power limits the number of tabs that can be left open simultaneously.


I think Mozilla is on the right track here. The advantages of tabbed browsing were clear as soon as it hit the majority of the browsers...Microsoft included.

But with faster machines and even greater use of browsers in our daily lives...the disadvantages of tabbed browsing is becoming more clear.

I commonly have between 10-15 tabs open...which runs the tab mean beyond the window frame.

Something new is needed...but what?

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