You may have heard about a new feature called Tab Sets that has been integrated into the latest developer version of the Firefox web browser.
Tab Sets, as the developer call them, adds tab management capabilities to the web browser.
When you start Firefox for the first time, you will notice a new option in the right-click menu of the browser when hovering over a tab.
At the very top is a new entry, to "move this tab to" a tab set. Only the create new group option is accessible at this time. Nothing happens after selecting the option, which may confuse a lot of Firefox users who try the option for the first time.
The real magic happens in the Tab View window. This window can be accessed from a toolbar button and the View > Tab View menu (again at the very top).
In theory, all open websites should be displayed in tab view. The display appears to be a bit buggy at the moment, as not all tabs were displayed during our tests, or at least not at immediately. Furthermore, the close tab set button did not work at this time, clicking on the close icon did nothing.
The visible websites are shown with thumbnail screenshots which can be moved around freely. It is for instance possible to move a website from one tab set to another, increase the size of a tab set to increase the size of the thumbnails, place tab sets over other tab sets and so on.
The tabs can be named in Tab View, for better identification purposes, and the option to add a new tab directly to one of the existing groups.
A click on a page in Tab View brings that tab set to the front with the selected page as the active tab. All other tabs are not shown in that view mode.
Creating a new tab in an existing Tab Set adds that tab automatically to it, which reduces the manual juggling.
It will take some time to get used to the Tab Sets feature, largely because it means more juggling around with different tab sets windows.
Say you have three tab sets: Work, Shopping and Entertainment. If you are currently in work, and want to switch to a website in shopping or entertainment you need to press the button in the Firefox toolbar, or use the View menu. Then you need to select the new tab set so that it opens. If you want to switch back, you need to perform the same operation again. Actually, you need to do it every time you want to switch.
The above statement is not entirely true in Windows 7, which displays all open tabs in the taskbar, so that they can be selected directly.
How are tab sets then different from say, using multiple Firefox windows for different online activities?
Windows seem to be more flexible than tab sets. It is for instance possible to place two Firefox windows next to each other, which is not possible with Tab Sets. Windows can also be displayed easier, considering that a click in the taskbar will do that.
How about the ability to open multiple websites with saved tab sets? That can be done by adding all websites to a bookmarks folder and middle-clicking it.
App Tabs, another new feature similar to Chrome's Pin Tab feature, offers options to configure specific tabs to be always displayed in the browser. That's handy for services that may be needed while working in different tab sets.
Tab Sets at this point in development seem to offer no value other than adding eye candy to the Firefox web browser, which is something that we have criticized in the past.
The small bugs encountered in the nightlies will be fixed in the release version, the usability problems on the other hand may turn Tab Sets into another Firefox feature that is barely used by anyone.
What we would like to see:
Firefox users who want to test Tab Sets in the browser need to download the latest Nightly Builds from the official website to do so.
What's your take on Tab Sets?
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