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[Wish] Resizable tab widths   [OT]

By: Martijn Coppoolse   Homepage   Voorburg, NL  
Date: Mar 01,2019 at 07:40
In Response to: [Wish] Resizable tab widths (Slobodan Vujnovic)

> Yes, technically you must be right. But visually, a newly created
> window that now accommodates a single tab looks like a full-blown
> instance of the app, given that all the menus and my elaborate
> Bookmarks toolbar (6 lines) get created, but I just wanted a
> single tab to float around temporarily.

Woah, 6 lines of Bookmarks toolbar? I’ll wager that’s not a very common sight...
I’m using a single Bookmarks toolbar (albeit with mostly folders on it) in my main Firefox; elsewhere I’ve set the Bookmarks toolbar to only be visible on the ‘new tab’ page.

But now I understand why you find separate windows visually cluttered; it’s because in your case, they are. :-)

> But I guess tabs cannot exist without the context of the parent
> container, with all its decorations and functionality.

Pop-up windows are opened without any toolbars. So content windows can definitely exist without all the clutter.

> I stand corrected!!! All these years of using this feature in Firefox
> and Chrome I've been trying to do this by dragging the window TITLE,
> it NEVER occurred to me to grab and drag the TAB back to the parent window...
> There is no hint that implies that such an action exists.

Well... If dragging the window title moves the window, doesn’t it make sense that dragging the tab ‘title’ moves the tab?

But it probably helps that my browsers haven’t had a title bar for several years now — the tab bar is the title bar (though Firefox very thoughtfully always leaves a bit of space free next to the tabs, so I can still drag the window).

> In my defense, right-clicking the dragged-out has the option "Move Tab"
> grayed out - a hint that it has already left home once, so you can no
> longer move it. OK. But, instead of this grayed-out option, why did
> they not put "Restore Tab", so that idiots like me would at least
> know that it is possible and dig around?

I think it’s because the tab doesn’t keep track of where it’s been; it has no ‘home’ window. It merely has a place in its current window, and it can always be moved to a new window — unless it is the sole tab of that window; in which case it’s already at the start AND at the end AND in a new window, so none of the three ‘Move Tab’ menu items are relevant. The "Move to new window" option becomes available again as soon as you add a second tab to that window.

The only thing I’m missing here, personally, is a menu item to move a tab (or set of tabs) to an existing window. (IIRC, Vivaldi does present this option in one of its context menus).

> In addition, given the huge UI real estate available, there could
> be some visual/textual hint telling the user that a particular tab
> can be dragged back using the mouse, in addition to the hypothetical
> "Restore Tab" context menu option. I can't be the only one to have
> missed that?

Probably not. But what kind of visual hint are you thinking of? Anything added will have a tendency to clutter the UI again; especially since it’s something a user only needs to see once or twice, I expect.

> What I had in mind is what we now have in tabbed source code editors:
> you can show two source files side by side, that is, TWO TABS SIDE
> BY SIDE, each being resizable, and font sizes independent!

True enough. Visual Studio Code can actually show more than two editors side-by-side in the same window (each editor having its own tab bar).

> That's how I imagine browser tabs, it's been done! It's like a F8
> Split in ZTree. If editors do it, so can browsers!

What’s really funny (to me at least), is that Visual Studio Code — which I just mentioned as having the possiblity to display two or more editors side-by-side in the same window — is based on Electron. What’s Electron, you say? Well, it’s a cross-platform development platform using node.js and Chromium. Yes, Node.js as in JavaScript, and Chromium as in Google Chrome’s rendering engine.
It’s basically a browser limited to one single web application. (Incidentally, this is the reason that VSCode will consume 2 GB of RAM to edit 15 text files, while Notepad++ consumes 200 MB for the same 15 text files).

So I don’t think it’s a technical impossibility, it’s more that browser makers are trying to keep the browser itself relatively simple and out of the way. Besides, every additional feature adds complexity, and having separate content windows inside one browser window would definitely add a lot of complexity.

There’s lots of little snags you probably wouldn’t think of. Did you know that the javascr*** code in a page can still move the browser window around? But only if all the tabs of that window are loaded with pages from the same domain as where the Javascript code originates!

> I remember early
> browsers: there was no such thing as tabs! When they appeared, it
> was so strange, but now it's the rule. Same with many other tools -
> even terminal emulators are multi-tabbed. What is missing is
> individual control of each tab's geometry.

I thought tabs were brilliant when I first saw them. And again, I thought Notepad++ was brilliant when I saw its two side-by-side editors. But somehow I never missed that in my browsers; perhaps also because by the time I figured it would be handy, I had two (relatively small) screens, and I could just put two browsers next to each other on separate screens. Also, at some point Windows introduced ‘dragging the title bar into a border to maximize the window on half the screen’, so I still didn’t miss it.

> For example, I could have the ztw3.com tab next to the twitter.com tab,
> since both these sites have content that does not require full
> width. Both would be happy with a 50/50 or 40/60, whatever share.

It’s definitely feasible, but I don’t know what the effort involved would be like, nor the cost in complexity and maintenance.

I also wonder how often it would be used.

On a separate but related note: wasn’t Windows supposed to introduce tabs for all applications at one point?


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