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browser tabsTab structures might be a relatively new concept, they’re always linear, and even in tree-style heavily restricted for you, the end user. Already, behind the screens, Firefox developers are trying to redefine the browser interface.

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 (Download)

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.

browser tabs

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Tab Candy allows you to reorganize your browser tabs on a flat pane – like BumpTop BumpTop, An Intuitive Interactive 3D Desktop BumpTop, An Intuitive Interactive 3D Desktop Read More , 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.

Tab Groups

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.

browser tab order

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.

browser tab order

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.

browser tab order

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.

browser tabs

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!

  1. LMLB
    August 8, 2010 at 8:38 pm

    Most probably it was the automatic update that updated to the normal minefield (tab candy has its own minefield version). Disable the automatic update to prevent tab candy from disappearing (minefield updates every day).

    Source: https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/s...

  2. Cruncher_20
    August 6, 2010 at 8:19 pm

    They removed the feature :( Why...

    It's like giving a (tab) candy to a child and removed it...

  3. Cruncher_20
    August 6, 2010 at 6:19 pm

    They removed the feature :( Why...

    It's like giving a (tab) candy to a child and removed it...

    • Simon Slangen
      August 7, 2010 at 7:15 am

      What do you mean, removed the feature? This hasn't been implemented in any official Firefox release yet, but you can still download the test version. And, who knows, we might see it pop up in the actual FF 4 release.

    • LMLB
      August 8, 2010 at 6:38 pm

      Most probably it was the automatic update that updated to the normal minefield (tab candy has its own minefield version). Disable the automatic update to prevent tab candy from disappearing (minefield updates every day).

      Source: https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=581791

      • Simon Slangen
        August 9, 2010 at 10:42 am

        Thanks for clearing that up, I misunderstood.

  4. Simon Slangen
    August 2, 2010 at 9:36 pm

    Excerpt: "Worse, how many of us keep tabs open as reminders of something we want to do or read later? We’re all suffering from infoguilt."

    From the context, I think it means feeling a sort of responsibility to the available information.

    You've got a dozen 'interesting' articles opened up. You don't really want to read them, but you daren't close them either. You feel like you should pay attention; as if it's a crime to disregard even part of this vast sea of pseudo-useful information. And so, as procrastination carries on, that bulk of should-be-important stuff keeps growing, until the bottleneck that's your browser UI starts cramming up.

    That's infoguilt. I think. Penny for your thoughts.

    PS. You can already try it for yourself if you don't mind using the test version.

  5. timmyjohnboy
    August 2, 2010 at 7:47 pm

    I'm interested in the term "infoguilt" discussed in the video and the website. There wasn't a real definition offered so I was wondering what anyone's thoughts were on the subject.

    I too like the UI of tabcandy and can't wait to try it myself.

  6. timmyjohnboy
    August 2, 2010 at 5:47 pm

    I'm interested in the term "infoguilt" discussed in the video and the website. There wasn't a real definition offered so I was wondering what anyone's thoughts were on the subject.

    I too like the UI of tabcandy and can't wait to try it myself.

    • Simon Slangen
      August 2, 2010 at 7:36 pm

      Excerpt: "Worse, how many of us keep tabs open as reminders of something we want to do or read later? We’re all suffering from infoguilt."From the context, I think it means feeling a sort of responsibility to the available information.You've got a dozen 'interesting' articles opened up. You don't really want to read them, but you daren't close them either. You feel like you should pay attention; as if it's a crime to disregard even part of this vast sea of pseudo-useful information. And so, as procrastination carries on, that bulk of should-be-important stuff keeps growing, until the bottleneck that's your browser UI starts cramming up.That's infoguilt. I think. Penny for your thoughts.PS. You can already try it for yourself if you don't mind using the test version.

      • timmyjohnboy
        August 2, 2010 at 9:46 pm

        Half of the time the day comes to an end and I either save the link for another day or just close it, depending on whether I still want to read it. The process IS frustrating.

  7. spaceman
    August 2, 2010 at 11:51 am

    Downloaded and tested and was very impressed. Firefox 4 looks like a major and very impressive update.

    • Simon Slangen
      August 2, 2010 at 4:19 pm

      Glad you liked it. I migrated to Chrome a while back, but so far Firefox 4 looks incredibly alluring.

  8. Simon Slangen
    August 2, 2010 at 9:19 am

    Good point, we'll definitely look into it.

    UPDATE: fixed, with a note of thanks to the editors :-)

  9. JK III
    August 2, 2010 at 3:54 am

    The heading should mention that it's a new feature (to be) included in Firefox 4 and not an addon.

    • Simon Slangen
      August 2, 2010 at 7:19 am

      Good point, we'll definitely look into it.

      UPDATE: fixed, with a note of thanks to the editors :-)

  10. Mutsu
    August 2, 2010 at 3:24 am

    You can download Portable version of Firefox 4.0 beta 3 via http://soft4all.info/free-soft...

  11. Mutsu
    August 2, 2010 at 1:24 am

    You can download Portable version of Firefox 4.0 beta 3 via http://soft4all.info/free-software-download/firefox-the-best-web-browser-ever/

  12. Vordreller
    August 1, 2010 at 11:49 pm

    Tab Groups is an old concept. There's been a stable addon for that for over a year now: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-...

    The only difference is the visual interface and the fact that this one stays on screen, which is a lot easier than going to a separate screen every single time you want to change something. With this, it's just drag and drop in the same screen as the browser. Couldn't be easier.

  13. Vordreller
    August 1, 2010 at 9:49 pm

    Tab Groups is an old concept. There's been a stable addon for that for over a year now: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/10254/

    The only difference is the visual interface and the fact that this one stays on screen, which is a lot easier than going to a separate screen every single time you want to change something. With this, it's just drag and drop in the same screen as the browser. Couldn't be easier.

    • Simon Slangen
      August 2, 2010 at 4:17 pm

      Thanks for the tip. The add-on looks pretty cool, but I think Tab Candy goes farther than just grouping tabs, the UI completely redefines browsing.

  14. Mango Wodzak
    August 1, 2010 at 8:53 pm

    i'd test it out if there were a portable version..

    • Simon Slangen
      August 2, 2010 at 7:16 am

      Have you tried simply installing it on your portable drive? I might be wrong, but I think Firefox doesn't leave too many files lingering around in other folders.

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