Firefox users can move browser tabs to a sidebar so that the tabs are displayed vertically with the help of extensions such as Tab Kit. This at first may be confusing to users of the browser who always had their tabs aligned horizontally, but the benefits may make it worth their ewhile. Computer monitors nowadays are often wide screen displays, which means that you get lots of width and not so much height. Websites on the other hand usually limit the width of their contents, so that space remains untapped in the browser if you are running it in fullscreen or a large window.
Moving tabs to the side not only makes available additional vertical space for the actual website, since the tabbar is no longer displayed in its original location, but also additional tabs before you need to start scrolling.
A recent Australis demo document (pdf) highlights that Mozilla seems intent to add vertical tabs as an option in the near future. It needs to be noted that this is a mockup right now and not something that you can activate. Still, it is likely that this feature will eventually make its way into a future Firefox version.
The mockup demonstrates how vertical or sidebar tabs could look like in the browser. It is interesting to note that tabs are displayed as thumbnail images and page titles here. It is likely that tabs will only be presented this way if they do not exceed a certain threshold, as too many open tabs would either render thumbnails too small or reduce the overview over open tabs as you’d have to scroll a lot as only a certain number of thumbnail tabs fit on the screen at the same time.
If you look closely, you will notice that the mockup showcases a different design than other mockups. This can’t be attributed to the moving of the tabbar alone, and is an indication that designs are not final yet either way.
I’d like to see the following features supported if Mozilla implements the vertical tabbar in the Firefox web browser:
- Options to place the tabbar on the left or right
- Options to disable thumbnail previews and use text only links
- Options to modify width, height and font sizes
What’s your take on the development? Would you like to see a built-in sidebar tabs in Firefox? (via Sören)
By the way, some of the other sheets of the pdf document linked above show other ideas and mockups that you may want to take a look at. You see the new about:home or new tab page here for instance. One interesting little tidbit here is that one mockup shows weather conditions on the screen. Could this be the integration of a speed dial extension-like feature that Opera supports for a while now?