It’s one of those things that people do, simply because they can, as far as I am concerned, because by my estimations, keeping more than about five tabs open at one time in a browser is merely something you do because it is possible, not because it is somehow more productive.

Some however, make a sport of seeing exactly how many tabs they can have open, which is, if your are a performance tester, a good way to check memory usage, and assess bragging rights.

A story on Instant Fundas tells about features available on the new Firefox beta which have been available for quite a while on Opera, without any software additions; available on Chrome, with the addition of an extension; and now on Firefox – as though it had come down from Heaven on stone tablets.

That is what annoys many who use Opera – it is the Rodney Dangerfield of browsers. It has features developed that are quietly added months or years before other browsers get the idea they might be wanted or needed, and then when another browser gets the additions, it is heralded as though it was a gift from God, shared with no one else.

Oddly unnerving.

Mozilla recently unveiled a new tab grouping feature called Tab Candy, now renamed Tab Sets, that is available for test run on Firefox 4 beta. If you were keeping tab (pun intended) of its development, we must know by now that Tab Sets offer a visually impressive way to group and view tabs in Firefox. Tab Sets presents an array of thumbnail images, each representing a tab, which can be housed inside rectangular boxes that constitute a group. Tabs can be moved from one group to another, and groups can be named and moved as well. It does look great.

Possibly true, but as I said, who keeps that many tabs open at once, other than someone going for bragging rights?

Recently, the Register unearthed a blog post from an Opera employee, Haavard Moen, who claims Opera had tab grouping for years. Now this took me by surprise because I have been an Opera user for years and thought I knew the browser inside out.

Haavard Moen wrote in his blog:

There has been a lot of focus on grouping of tabs in browsers lately as a new and wonderful way to manage tabs, but did you know that you have actually been able to group tabs in Opera for many years already?

It might not be obvious that it can be used for this purpose, but the “Windows” panel in Opera shows all your open windows, and the tabs within each window. It’s disabled by default, so open the panel selector and click the “+” at the bottom to find the panel.

Now, just think: “Window = group”

Haavard Moen claims that a window can be used as a group. This might not be most optimum approach for tab grouping but they do, in fact, function as groups.

Whereas Firefox Tab Sets lets you sort tabs into groups using thumbnails, Opera uses the “tree” approach to organize open browser windows and the tabs within them. Like Firefox Tab Sets, you can rearrange tabs within each window and drag and drop tabs from one window group to another. You can also drag a tab outside a group/window to create a new one. The “Quick find” field lets you filter tabs in real-time.

Opera groups/window might not have the same visual eye candy, but it gets the job done. Who does it better is up for debate. Blog Firefox Facts makes a good point regarding this:

Opera needs to pay less attention to saying, “hey, we did it first!” and maybe a little more attention to saying, “hey, we did it best”. Right now first doesn’t mean a whole lot, because people will always head towards the better execution of any idea.

While it may be true that Firefox makes it look better, I still ask why it is even necessary. The point of using a browser is to get things done. If you are more productive with many open tabs, more power to you, and all’s well that ends well.  On the other hand, for me, and many I’ve talked with, having so many tabs open becomes an exercise in frustration.

As for the better execution of an idea, if you look with a jaundiced eye, you will see that most of the stuff nicked from Opera gets implemented almost exactly as found.

No big deal, just a bit of respect would be nice. It takes all kinds to make a world, and that’s why there are many browsers. It is odd for instance, that I have always found Firefox’s interface quite off putting, and when I was using it all the time, I always immediately took to changing the look, because I really hated the standard one.

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Fear not those who argue but those who dodge.

Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach

Opera, the fastest and most secure web browser

Perhaps, to show its stability and security, the new slogan of Opera should be “It’s what the blackhats use!”

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