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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Could the future of Firefox be a browser without tabs?

Could the future of Firefox be a browser without tabs?

Firefox without tabs mockup
The people behind the Firefox web browser have been thinking long and hard about the way it handles browser tabs for a few months now. Most of the discussion has centered around how new tabs should behave. Should they show a blank screen? RSS updates? A list of frequently visited pages? But one developer has a novel idea: what if Firefox didn't have any tabs at all?

Yeah, I know what you're thinking. Once upon a time Firefox, Internet Explorer, and all the other browsers didn't have tabs. Life has become much simpler since tabs were invented. But developer Oliver Reichenstein says browser tabs worked well back when we'd only have a few web pages open at a time. Now that it's not uncommon for users to have a dozen or more tabs, it's increasingly difficult to tell what's going on in the browser tab bar or find the tab you're looking for.

Reichenstein created a mockup of a version of Firefox that looks a lot like iTunes. Instead of tabs and bookmarks, you could tag web pages to make it easy to sort or search for pages by category. Each time you click on a link it would take you to the page as you last visited it.

Somehow I doubt we'll see Mozilla take this radical a departure from the common browser tab in time for the launch of Firefox 3.5. But perhaps a no-tab interface could be available as an option in future builds.

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