Firefox 44 was recently released. With it comes a little notice…
This came as a shock to me — I’ve been using Tab Groups since 2011, when the feature was introduced in Firefox 4 as Panorama:
And I use it all the time:
- Throughout the day, I’ll alternate between two particular groups of tabs: one for general web browsing, and another that consists entirely of Stack Exchange sites.
I have a tab group for my Neopets dailies that I use once a day.
I have a tab group that’s dedicated to my web projects in my development setup.
And finally, I have a couple of groups that I rarely use, though in fairness I ought to move these to bookmark folders instead.
That last item brings up one of the things I like about tab groups. Like tabs, tab groups can:
- persist across browsing sessions, and
- be lazy-loaded.
If I put all my tab groups into separate windows instead, Firefox has to manage all of these windows throughout the entire browsing session, even when I don’t need to keep them open throughout the day. Not only is this a waste of system resources, but it also adds needless extra tabs to my Alt+Tab.
The good news is that Tab Groups isn’t going away completely, despite what the notice above might suggest. (And that’s why I’ve opted for a less sensationalist and more accurate, yet equally attention-grabbing title here.) Clicking Learn More reveals that all is not lost:
The Tab Groups (Panorama) feature will be removed from Firefox in version 45. We know this may be inconvenient and we apologize. Removing the Tab Group function will make it easier for us to improve Firefox. Thankfully, the Mozilla community has already come through with some great replacements for Tab Groups. This article shows you some of the new options.
It turns out, Tab Groups is being preserved in the form of a separate add-on (a fate not unlike that of the Link Manager in WordPress, which I use on this very blog):
If you want a direct replacement for the Tab Groups feature, try the “Tab Groups” add-on. It was created directly from the Firefox code and works just like the current feature. It will be as if the feature wasn’t removed from Firefox. This add-on aims to fully replace Tab Groups in Firefox, providing a similar and hopefully even enhanced experience. You can install Tab Groups from the add-ons website.
So there you have it. Yes, Tab Groups is being evicted from Firefox core, and I understand if they’re removing it as hardly anyone uses it so they can focus on working on more important features. I’m just a little bit peeved about the poor wording of the removal notice, but it’s a little late now for complaints.
Thankfully, it’ll live on as an extension, otherwise I don’t know what I’d do. Maybe switch to Microsoft Edge. After almost 10 years of using Firefox, change becomes unsurprisingly tempting.