Tabbed Browsing

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Warning: The content of this page is obsolete and kept for archiving purposes of past processes.

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* This is a stub and will be expanded in the near future

Tracked by: bug 318168

  • this bug would be used to track status, target, owner and various deliverables

Goals & Objectives

To drive tabbed browsing by default for Firefox 2.

  1. Identify usability landmines surrounding tabbed browsing
  2. Ensure compatibility with web applications (window/tab targeting)
  3. Find ways to optimize behaviour even more, in sync with Places

Planned Milestones

Alpha 1 Tab overflow basic functional spec done
Undo tab close basic impl done, needs cleanup
Closebuttons on tabs Done, fixing regressions
Alpha 2 Browsermessage API enhancements Spec needed


Tabbed browsing is one of the most popular features in Firefox, and as users are exposed they react most favourably once past the learning curve. We want to improve tabbed browsing so that it can be the default for all users, in a friendly and intuitive manner.


There is a considerable amount of debate over the "best" setup for tabbed browsing, and indeed there are numerous extensions that implement various modifications to the default behaviour. We need to conduct a significant amount of study in order to identify the best solution for all users and improve our experience based on those results.

User Audiences

  1. Hardcore tabbed browsing user (10-20 tabs at once, overflows tab bar)
  2. Confident consumer, sometimes uses multiple tabs, primarily single-track browsing
  3. Novice, tabs are a means to avoid managing multiple windows.

Functional Requirements

  1. Ease of Use
  2. Best combination of intuitive and optimized behaviours


  1. Able to undo tab closing (timed cleanup)

Plans & Design Documents

API Changes Required

  • link targeting of tabs needs to be fixed (bug 323810)
  • tabbrowser may have additional methods


The current design impacts the following areas of development

Integration points with bookmarks and multiple homepages




  • n/a

See Also

Discussion & Implications

This issue was brought up late in the Firefox 1.5 development cycle, and some good discussion was generated which detailed a lot of the issues and explored several options.

See this wiki page on tabbed browsing behavior as well as bug 308396 for some of that discussion.

There is a cumulative list at of tabbed browsing issues at Tabbed_Browsing/User_Interface_Design/Tab_Overflow and on its talk page Talk:Tabbed_Browsing/User_Interface_Design/Tab_Overflow

Caveats / What We've Tried Before

Security Implications

Privacy Considerations