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Tabs in a Drawer

Greg, of the Omni Group, is talking about OmniWeb 5 in a forum:

2) It is true that scrolling vertically is a lot more "comfortable" than scrolling horizontally, so while horizontal real estate is generally more available, you do want to make sure that you don't use up too much of it and force a horizontal scroller. Fortunately, the tab drawer isn't really very wide (although you can widen it if you want larger previews/titles). I have yet to see a page that doesn't fit well on a 1024x768 screen with the drawer open. So unless you've got an orange or blue toilet seat iBook, you'll be fine.

What Greg seems to fail to understand is that I'm willing to give up vertical space (Safari's tab bar is how tall, after all?), yet I'm not willing to give up horizontal space. Why? Because I arrange my application windows so that I can see things to the sides? The top is the menu, the bottom is the dock: those are set. But from left to right on my current screen I can see my email, my browsers, my chat windows, iTunes, a BBEdit window, and my desktop icons.

Besides, we're talking about wasted space here, so some simple math bashes Greg's point to teeny bits. Let's ignore for now the "screen thumbnails" option in OmniWeb 5 and concentrate on its "list view" option.

Most people don't browse with 20 sites open, yet you need how many - 30 or so? - to fully fill the list area in OmniWeb 5's drawer. In Safari, six tabs makes use of the tab area.

I surf with tabs "always on" so I'm wasting the most amount of screen space when I have only one tab. The "wasted area" is 20 pixels x 900 pixels - I'm wasting around 18,000 square pixels. Imagine I make a drawer now and it nearly as tall as my window but about 150 pixels wide (this is thinner than my single tab): I'm looking at wasting 150 pixels x 900 pixels, or about 135,000 pixels. In other words, OmniWeb costs me 750% more screen space! Screen space that could be used to layer (and still make accessible) iChat windows, iTunes playlists, email, the desktop, and so on.

Imagine that I create six tabs. Safari "wastes" no space (occupying about 20,000 square pixels to show them all to me) yet OmniWeb still wastes around 120,000 square pixels (showing them to me in around 18,000). Preposterous! Drawers are as tall as their "parent" window, and this will lead to an incredible waste of space.

In other words, I think Greg is being a bit smug. Will this hurt OmniWeb? By the voices on that forum, you bet. What's a better use of the drawer area? How about a built-in-validator? 😀

Greg further descends into the depths of silliness with comments like this:

5) Here is my trump card: so go ahead and close the tab drawer! You use zero screen space, and can still use cmd-up/down arrow for switching between them. Remember that you can drag and drop reorder tabs within a window, or from one window to another, and can move windows from one workspace to another, all of which can be saved in one or more workspace snapshots. So you can always temporarily open the drawer, order the tabs appropriately for your use, then close it again.

Y'know, because switching between things you can't see is always an easy thing to do. Ha!

I recommend reading this thread because, unlike on Slashdot, there are a good number of points and counter-points made.

Here's to hoping OmniGroup wishes to sell me a copy of OmniWeb 5. Without normal tabs, I'm not sure I'll do so.

12 Responses to "Tabs in a Drawer"

  1. 1) Tabs In a Drawer

    2) No iSync capabilities

    I'll stick with Safari.

    Besides, when I went to Omni's booth at Macworld, they were pushing the ability to have site specific preferences more than anything. To me, that makes me think they aren't too excited about tabs.

    Regardless, iSync ability is something I cannot be without.

  2. Percentages are a terrible way to make such comparisons. Reminds me of Apple's old (or perhaps not so old?) marketing strategies they've used on occasion.

  3. Okay, CyberMonk, how's this: OmniWeb's implementation wastes a "hella lot" more space than Safari's.

  4. You gotta love the ability to move tabs from one window to another one. At least I love it. I'm constantly finding myself wanting to combine two windows into one with tabs.

    Plus, I've gotta a hell of a lot of screen space to waste.

  5. Tom: if you frequently want to combine tabs, try Mozilla with Multizilla. There's a Move Tab... command that gives you the option to move a tab to any open window, or a new window. As far as I'm concerned, Multizilla is the tab target any tabbed browser needs to shoot for. It makes Safari's implementation of tabs look like exactly what it is: a .1 release. Sadly, Multizilla doesn't (yet) work with Firebird or Camino.

  6. I'd say Omniweb's additions including dragging and state-saving are really nice add-ons to the concept of Tabs in browsers. From what I've seen in screenshots, however, I'm not sure obvious and intuitively implemented those things are. I guess I'll be able to tell soon, can't really make a firm judgement until then.

    That said, the decision not to include a bar of tabs as one of the tab display options just reeks of childish stubbornness. Sure, they're trying to push a new way of looking at tabs, but a non-default option for 'traditional' style is hardly difficult to implement, and would only lessen the number of people who have an adverse immediate reaction to the browser.

  7. Sorry for the doubling up here - just wanted to add, though, that of course it's the OmniGroup's decision entirely to do what they want, and more power to them for bringing new stuff to the market.

  8. A couple of screenshots don't tell the whole story. I liked what I used at MacWorld... (and you'll noticed that the two people who actually used OW 5 in that MacAch thread had favorable opinions as well)

  9. Most people don't browse with 20 sites open

    I think I'm a freak; I regularly have 30-40 sites open in tabs since I use a web-based news aggregator. Hmm, yeah, I'm a freak because I also watch 450 or so feeds. Personally, I'd love a drawer of open pages, versus the way Safari collapses tabs more than 12 into a double-chevron menu.

  10. I'm eager to try it, but really the most exciting part is using thumbnails. Thumbnails of windows works so well for Exposé - why not use it for web pages? Sometimes tab titles aren't too useful, so seeing the contents when you're picking among tabs would be great...

    I think we should get a mini-exposé for browser windows, which shows us autosized thumbnails of open tabs and lets us pick them with the mouse.

  11. The more I use tabs in Safari, the more useless they become. I'm really looking forward to OmniWeb 5 because the times I really really need tabs, those times when I have 8-15 tabs open, horizontal tabs fail miserably.

    In the 2-6 tabs case, the benefit of tabs over separate windows is not so huge.

  12. I have my dock on the right side (where I used to have the disk icons in 9), so my windows can go all the ways to the bottom of the screen. Since my PowerBook's screen is 1024x768 I have more room on the side than on the bottom, but I still like to open my windows as wide as possible to eliminate horizontal scrolling.

    I never felt that tabs on the top of the window (where they belong 😉 wasted space. OmniWeb's tab drawer does feel like it wastes a huge amount of space.


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