I may be a bit old fashioned when it comes to changes in new versions of my favorite web browser Firefox. This can be partly attributed to years of working with a particular feature, only to find it completely revamped in a new version.
Don't get me wrong, if a feature makes sense from a usability point of view I'm all for it. But the Firefox developers lately seem to have concentrated much of their energy on making changes to the graphical user interface and the interaction within the browser.
Tabs on top, removal of the menu and status bar come to mind. All have in common that it is up to the user to use the new layout or switch back to the old one. Even the removed status bar can be replaced with the newly invented add-on's bar. Users who like to keep things as they are are satisfied and as are users who embrace the change.
Firefox Panorama on the other hand is completely different. The new feature was renamed twice already, from Tab Candy to Tab Sets to Panorama. What does it do?
Panorama allows the user to create groups of tabs and work solely with those groups in the browser.
Instead of 10 open tabs all the time, a user could create two groups with five tabs each. This obviously makes the most sense if tabs can be distinguished in groups. Users who work on one project, and users who do not open more tabs than they have visible space in the tabbar may not profit that much - if at all - from Panorama.
Panorama can be a great feature if you open many tabs in the browser (so that the tabbar shows scroll controls), to switch between different projects in the browsing session.
But Panorama is active all the time. Even for users who do not want to work with it. Some might say that those users should simply ignore Panorama and live with it. The problem with that is twofold.
First, there is the chance that a user accidentally launches Panorama with Ctrl-Space. That may not happen very often but the possibility is there.
Second, it happened that I accidentally activated Panorama in the browser without pressing the hotkey. It was for instance triggered after I restored a previously closed tab. What happened? Only the previously restored tab was shown in the browser window. All other tabs that I was working with were hidden by the feature and I had to go into the configuration of Panorama to merge the tabs into one group. I have no idea how those things happen. It may be related to the beta state of the browser.
An option to disable Panorama however would prevent all the problems associated with it right away. Panorama for me is a nice gimmick, like jumplists in Windows 7 or Ctrl-Tab to show visual thumbnails of all open tabs in the Firefox browser. And as such, I would like an option to disable it permanently as I will never ever use it (unless I'm forced to, if it can be triggered accidentally).
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.