Simplified Tab Groups add-on for Firefox resurrects soon-to-be-removed Panorama feature

Martin Brinkmann
Nov 22, 2015
Updated • Jun 25, 2017
Firefox, Firefox add-ons

Simplified Tab Groups is a brand new add-on for the Firefox web browser that aims to provide Firefox Panorama / Tab Groups users with a replacement for the native implementation that Mozilla plans to remove in a future version of Firefox (likely Firefox 45).

The reason for removing the feature, which was part of the Firefox web browser since version 4, is a lack of interest from the Firefox community and high maintenance costs. In other words, too few users use it to justify the costs of keeping the feature in Firefox.

Obviously, part of the low number of users who use it, Mozilla stated a while ago that 0,01% used it, comes from the fact that it is not promoted at all by Mozilla. This is actually true as well for complete themes, something that Mozilla plans to remove as well from Firefox.

Firefox users who use Tab Groups in the browser are left with little options. Accept Mozilla's migration plan and get all sites open in tab groups saved as bookmarks, don't update Firefox to keep using the feature, or hope that someone creates an add-on to continue using the feature in Firefox 45 and newer.

Tab Groups, a new Firefox add-on could be that solution.

firefox tab groups addon

Note: The add-on is fairly unstable right now. It sometimes displays blank information instead of the groups and tabs that you have created, and at other times loses a whole batch of sites open in a group. According to the developer, this is caused by Panorama still being available in Firefox and will stop being a problem when the feature is removed from the browser. The author notes furthermore that users should only install it in Firefox 45 or newer.

Good news is that it supports native Tab Groups data which means that you may use it to retain your groups and the sites in those groups.

The add-on displays all existing groups and sites when you click on its icon. You may use the interface to switch between existing groups, switch to sites directly, create new groups, remove sites, or remove groups from the interface.

The interface is basic compared to Firefox's Tab Groups feature as it does not show sites and groups visually on a page. There is also no option to move sites from one group to another (yet).

Closing Words

Tab Groups is the first replacement of the same-named Firefox feature. While it is necessary to get used to a new UI, it is the first add-on that offers a glimmer of hope for Firefox users who use the feature in the browser currently.

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  1. ArtK said on March 16, 2017 at 3:10 am

    Yeah, FF keeps getting worse and worse with each new “update”. It used to be a great browser but the “developers” at Mozilla keep dumbing it down playing follow-the-leader to emulate chrome. Unfortunately, disabling updates is not enough – too many web sites now require the newer versions – to some of them three months is “too old!”. Mozilla seems to be doing everything they possibly can to destroy FF. They keep undermining the one thing that makes FF viable – extensions. Many of us rely on extensions that will no longer work with the “new” interfaces and most extension developers have either disappeared or given up. Not much point in putting a big effort into a moving target.

    Where Mozilla gets its statistics of only 0.01% usage is very suspect. I, for one and I am sure many more, have been using tab groups (along with tab groups manager and vertical tabs), since forever without telling Mozilla or downloading frequent updates. Without tab groups (and vertical tabs), FF is practically useless.

  2. Mike Johnson said on February 17, 2016 at 2:07 am

    I have disabled automatic updating of Firefox in order to retain this feature.

  3. marsjaninzmarsa said on December 4, 2015 at 3:47 pm

    Or you can use semi-official addon based on official codebase, and working like native:

    1. Don Gateley said on December 4, 2015 at 11:29 pm

      They indicate that you must use the startup option “Show my windows and tabs from last time” to avoid losing your groups between quit/start but I have just verified that if you use Session Manager the option “Prompt for session to load” works as well. Concern resolved.

  4. Don Gateley said on December 3, 2015 at 9:41 pm

    Maave, on what version do you find it dropped?

    1. Maave said on December 7, 2015 at 4:45 am

      The nightly version, 45.0a1 (2015-12-03)

  5. Maave said on December 3, 2015 at 3:06 pm

    It juuuuust got dropped. The addons seems fine. Not as stylish as the original but it does work. It not horrendously slow like Panorama was for me.

  6. Richard said on November 28, 2015 at 5:18 am

    Well I wouldn’t even recommend using Pocket. If features like these gets removed then sooner or later, even pocket gets removed too

  7. Don Gateley said on November 24, 2015 at 10:51 pm

    Slightly confused here. If it is unstable and not to be used until Mozilla removes Panorama what happens to the groups that were crated using Panorama? Do they still exist somewhere for this add-on to manage or are they gone when Panorama is gone?

  8. Don said on November 23, 2015 at 11:35 pm

    If Panorama has high maintenance costs, how do you think Tab Groups or any add-on will fare with even fewer users and developers?

    I was an avid Panorama user. I noticed Panorama getting slower and slower in the past year or two. I recently converted all my groups to bookmark folders in anticipation of Panorama’s demise. I miss using the Back button; bookmarks don’t save tab history.

  9. Xibula said on November 23, 2015 at 2:39 pm

    The rebellion of the 0.01% !!!

  10. Anon said on November 22, 2015 at 11:00 pm

    It *is* a glimmer of hope. What a relief, seriously. Should buy our savior a beer or something.

  11. Joker said on November 22, 2015 at 10:44 pm

    Well, nice, but what’s the point?

    Mozilla will remove support for proper addons next year anyway.

  12. anohana said on November 22, 2015 at 9:32 pm

    Better than nothing. Thank you! I hope we will get a complete working copy of the panorama.

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