Tab Candy is a new way of organizing your browser tabs. The project is headed by Aza Raskin, the Creative Lead for Firefox and the same guy who has been working on Mozilla’s Ubiquity and Firefox Mobile.
As can be expected, Tab Candy is beautiful, innovating, yet simple to use. Sadly, as of yet, you can only download it as part of a separate Firefox test version.
Tab Candy ( )
Although Tab Candy doesn’t do away with the well-known linear tab structure, the concept is moved up a spot on the interface ladder and the root level is completely reinvented. As we all know, the human mind isn’t linear, but rather likes to group and work with association.
Tab Candy allows you to reorganize your browser tabs on a flat pane – like BumpTop, but without the 3D – by grouping them under a common denominator. Each of these groups can actually be viewed as a separate Firefox window, filled with tabs.
The Tab Candy overview can be studied above, but what makes up such a tab group? Below is an excerpt; these are all websites that promote research and overall productivity – regular clients when I’m writing an article. Nomenclature, in the top left corner, can be freely changed to reflect the content. You can also add new browser tabs from the bottom left corner, or even close all tabs at once in the top right.
More importantly is the ability to resize a tab pane by click-and-dragging the bottom right corner. The content is dynamically fitted to fill up the screen real estate. By adjusting the size and placement of a tab group, you can control the alignment and prominence of your tab icons. If you further shrink the pane, and all of your browser tabs will no longer fit, Tab Candy automatically creates a stack from those websites, with only a single displayed icon. This can be seen in the first screenshot, for the ‘Uploading Tools’ group.
Browsing and Switching Between Tab Groups
In the tab overview, selecting an icon will open the tab group as a seemingly isolated Firefox window, with said website selected. These will then only show the tabs relevant to that group, with the other tab groups kept hidden in the overview. Below you can see the Research and Productivity group unfolded. To return to the Tab Candy overview and access your other websites, you can press the icon on the top right or (on Windows) use Ctrl+space.
A minimized tabs pane or stack can be unfolded like the regular tab groups. In the topmost screenshot, you’ll notice an additional button at the bottom. This allows you to select the individual websites in a tab overlay, as pictured below.
You’re able, but not limited to create new browser tabs in an unfolded group. The ribbon at the bottom allows you to create new pages that do not yet belong to a group.
These will remain in the ribbon, until you drag them to the main overview, or into an existing group. Two separated pages can be merged into a new group by dragging one on top of the other. This dynamical interface, although greatly unfamiliar, is extremely intuitive and can be mastered in mere seconds. Switching between tab groups, and rearranging them, is done fluently and with just a few clicks of the mouse.
See it all in the video:
Not (Yet) an Add-On
Tab Candy is still in alpha. This means that it’s still being tested and improved, and cannot be considered a finished product. Yet, even with a few minor bugs, it has already proven usable.
This would be less of an issue if it could be installed as an add-on in an existing Firefox installation. Currently, Tab Candy can only be downloaded readily integrated into an early Firefox test version. This test version, called Minefield, can be downloaded for Windows, Mac and Linux.
What do you think of Tab Candy? Are we seeing another revolution in the way we manage our browsers? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments below!