Talk:Tabbed Browsing/User Interface Design/Tab Overflow

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Could you put buttons on the ends of the tabbar that, when pressed, would convert the pointer to an Acrobat-like grabby-hand scroller for pulling the entire bar left and right? Would this jibe with keyboard navigation? It seems like arrow key scrolling could still work with this.

Currently, the Firefox UI breaks down when there are too many tabs in a single window. It's possible to end up with tabs which are more or less unreachable, and on Mac OS X the tabs can even spill into the tab close button's area. It'd be great to improve the situation for FF2. Interestingly, there's an extension that prototypes several different possibilities for tab overflow management:

It lets you select between several different behaviors including:

   * Tab scrollbar
   * Tab scroll buttons
   * Multiple rows of tabs
   * Tab overflow menus

None of these are particularly well implemented, but it's interesting to play with. (It's not very clear, but you can switch between these modes using the little down arrow next to the tab close button when the extension is installed.) Out of these, I'm most intrigued by the overflow menus (a little nicer than Safari's because choosing a tab in an overflow menu shows the tab and moves the overflow menu to the other side of the tab set) and the tab scrolling (though this implementation is horrendous and we'd need something much better).

The "Grabby Hand" idea above is interesting, but I'd be concerned about discoverability as well as the overloading with the existing drag-to-reorder-tabs functionality.

What's the current state of the design explorations for this?

jhughes 19:41, 7 Feb 2006 (PST)

It would also be interesting to group tabs from the same domain, like windows XP/KDE/Gnome taskbar grouping.

As a heavy tab user (20-100 tabs), this discussion caught my attention, since anything that handles tabs better is good for me.

My "tab handler of preference" is a vertical tabbar using extension "Vertigo" - allows a large number of tabs to be visible in one consistent column rather than broken up into multiple rows, and puts a scrollbar (or could use up/down at top/bottom) for overflow. How to do it better... some quick thoughts on two possible approaches, both have merits:

  1. I prefer a scrollbar to up/down chevrons, but I'd prefer a static zone at the start and end of the tabbar to either, that appears if overflowing, which scrolls if hovered or pages the list up/down by 3/4 its length if clicked. (The slowness normally comes from having to scroll the list one tab at a time) Ie, hover over the start/end zone of the tabbar to scroll backwards/forward, or click for page up/down. I haven't seen this elsewhere.
  2. I was looking at how some programs solve long menus (eg long file lists, font lists, installed software lists etc) - the list comes up in multiple columns. Could there be for example, a visible tabbar, and if you hovered, it overlays a multiple row/column tabbar showing all tabs? That way you get the advantage of as many multiple rows as needed (ie almost always all tabs will be visible), but it vanishes back to the normal size once the action is complete or the user stops hovering, thus not stealing content area.

Last important thing - please allow a resizable vertical tabbar option, and check that tab reordering works correctly for it. That's more important to heavy users. At the moment vertical tabbar has to be done via prefs.js or vertigo extension, neither's ideal, and drag&drop tab reordering with the prefs.js version has issues.

Hope some of the above helps. Foxxen2 09:11, 1 April 2006 (PST)