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Tuesday, 27 July 2010 09:23

Firefox Tab Candy completely revolutionizes the web browser

Written by Jon Worrel

firefox  firefox_tab_candy_logo

Visually organizes tabs into managed groups


Ever since its introduction to web navigation, tabbed browsing has proven itself to be the optimal interface layout for efficiently getting work done and prioritizing information as it comes in. Since the first release of NetCaptor on January 3, 1998, an Internet Explorer shell designed to create an alternate browsing experience with the world’s first tab-based interface, the feature has always promised users the convenience to jump between web pages quickly and easily without drowning in a taskbar overloaded with individual windows.

Although the tabbed browsing interface was neither a Mozilla Firefox nor Opera invention during inception, its founding father Adam Stiles, chief programmer of the NetCaptor Project, has always advocated the interface layout on a variety of platforms and competing web browsers on the market.

As time moved on in the Internet world, many tabbed-browsing users became overwhelmed with a habit of keeping a dozen or two dozen tabs open across multiple browser windows at any given time. Many now use the Web to multitask among several types of different activities at once, including business portfolios, thousands of news articles, social networking streams, music streaming, multiple web-based email accounts, blog posts and forums. At times, it can often be difficult to keep web content organized along dozens of linear tabs crammed into a little strip along the top of the browser pane.


In a globalized society inundated with unmanageable information overload, and even “info guilt” as many technologists insist, it seems as if tabbed browsing has reached its peak potential use and is now in dire need of an interface revolution. Thankfully, Mozilla is working on a great solution.

Aza Raskin, Creative Lead for Firefox and Expert Interface Guru, posted a blog over the weekend detailing a new revolutionary method for organizing tabs into managed groups. The project, appropriately titled Tab Candy, shows an “elevated perspective” of all open tabs in a browser session to allow a user to quickly locate and switch between them. Tab Candy also lets users organize tabs into groups with customizable labels to differentiate between “vacation,” “work,” “social networking” and “business,” for instance.


Firefox Tab Candy provides a spatial framework for organizing web content. Larger image here.

As MG Siegler from TechCrunch notes, it appears as if Tab Candy’s layout takes design hints from Apple’s Expose feature in Mac OS X mixed with the Spaces feature. Apple's interfaces essentially allow a user to zoom out and observe every window from an elevated perspective, or birds-eye view. In this case, Aza Raskin intends to do the same with tabbed browsing and plans to integrate the feature straight into Firefox.

Since first learning about the new interface development, we are thoroughly convinced that Tab Candy could become the next paradigm shift in Web navigation for the decade of the 2010s. Honestly, Tab Candy has an incredibly amount of potential behind its simplistic organizational framework and could not have been introduced at a better time. The possibilities are very comprehensive, and the UI intuitively uses the spatial recognition capacity of the human mind. Best of all, the project is coded entirely with HTML, Javascript and CSS. There is no native proprietary code, just the open Web.

Tab Candy is currently available for preview in very early alpha stage development and is integrated within Firefox 4.0 beta 3 (Minefield release) which can be downloaded here.


Installation Sidenote

Over the past few days, many Firefox beta users have already developed a sweet tooth for Tab Candy and its managed organizational awesomeness. However, a minor nightly update to the Firefox 4b3pre build removed Tab Candy functionality from the taskbar and left many in distress and wonder over whether the feature would ever return. We turned over to Mozilla’s Support Forums for an official answer from Aza Raskin (who is also currently researching a new type of phishing attack called “tabnabbing”).

“Unfortunately, the Tab Candy build of Firefox points to the wrong URL for updates, said Raskin. “Thus, it installs a vanilla build of Minefield instead of a Tab Candy build of Firefox. You'll need to refrain from updating (or manually getting another Tab Candy build, which we manually updated). Sorry for the inconvenience. When we land in the nightly builds, this won't be a problem anymore.”

In other words, Tab Candy users are urged to uninstall any vanilla Minefield nightly update package that was installed over the Tab Candy build of Firefox and reinstall the alpha try-server build that was released on July 23, 2010. In order to ensure that nightly builds of Minefield aren’t installed over the Tab Candy build of Firefox, users are advised to change the “app.update.channel” string in about:config to something invalid for now, so updates don’t get fetched.

We will stay updated on the development progress of Tab Candy for Firefox, including its decided integration or departure from an official Firefox build sometime in the future.

Last modified on Tuesday, 27 July 2010 12:37

Jon Worrel

E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Related Video

An Introduction to Firefox's Tab Candy from Aza Raskin on Vimeo.

An Introduction to Firefox's Tab Candy Aza Raskin
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+9 #1 Fud_u 2010-07-27 10:50
Wow, that's just frosting on a cake. I'm eager to see the cherry on top when they go out of beta.
0 #2 JAB Creations 2010-07-27 10:53
It's a great idea and I tried a build however when using drag and drop it does not correctly place tabs inside of groups and after ten minutes of trying to figure out the logic said screw it. However if they can fix it then it'll be well worth the time.
+4 #3 Phase 2010-07-27 11:05
I used FF a while ago and then switched to Chrome. Now it looks like I'm going to be switching back ;-)
0 #4 ClearDenominator 2010-07-28 05:33
Nice, a better way to organize my work tabs and my procrastination tabs with out having to click trough all of them at once.
0 #5 blandead 2010-07-28 22:08
i like testing out their beta releases and seeing the improvements, but I wouldnt test out a pre beta release... if you've noticed its 4.0b3pre.. not stable enough for beta 3. You say minefield or nightly/daily builds which I dont know the differentce besides they are very early pre-release that can change any minute. not sure why you are telling ppl how to fix their pre release if they are beta testing they should know all the details of whats going on. but the concept is cool also I have NEVER seen that many tabs opened at once or imagined there was a need for something like this. I always just opened another window per 10 tabs if I had a low and switched between windows keeping similar content in each. This seems just like going from no tabs at all to tabbed browsing. does it run fast?

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