In my opinion, one of the greatest innovations of the Firefox 2 release was the inclusion of Tab Overflow. For the first time I could actually handle as many open browser tabs as I wanted. While Mozilla introduced Tab overflow in 2006, here we are in 2009 and Google Chrome doesn’t have that feature. For someone like me that often keeps 10+ tabs open at any one time this is a (minor) problem.
With the latest stable Chrome build 22.214.171.124 running at a screen resolution of 1024×768, I actually lose any tab identification (favicons included) at the 29th open tab. (check out the screenshot to see what i mean).
In practical terms this means that Chrome is only really usable for less than 29 tabs. Both Firefox and IE have Tab Overflow so users can get more than 29 tabs. It’s a situation that Google is aware of and is apparently working on.
In fact Google has
“We don’t have a complete system for handling many open tabs right now. We let tabs grow infinitely smaller,” Goodger wrote in a blog posting.”This ends up looking bad when there are a very large number of tabs open. We chose not to go with an overflow menu or scrolling tab strip like in some other browsers because we think there are other usability problems with those approaches.“
What Firefox does (and what I personally really like) is a Tab strip where you can scroll left or right to see overflow tabs. There is also a Tab pulldown to vertically scroll through all your open tabs. I personally don’t understand Goodger’s objection to replicating the Firefox approach for Chrome. Here’s what he said about it:
“We also don’t really like the drop-down menu approach as it has a
spatial disconnect (vertical scanning vs. horizontal tabs) that makes
it clumsy to use quickly,” Goodger commented. “In the end, we would like a system that
doesn’t over-zealously clip tabs out of the tab strip so that people
with many tabs can still access their tabs with one click.”
I will be keenly looking on the dev tree to see how Google ultimately decides to implement Tab Overflow. If in fact they succeed in doing something better than Firefox’s approach that would be a tremendous thing for users like me that just can’t get enough of Tabs.