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Tab Candy for Firefox goes alpha, revolutionizes tabbed browsing


Aza Raskin of Firefox fame has just announced one of the most amazing concepts I have seen for Web browsing in a long time: Tab Candy. Lee covered a slightly out-of date version on Monday, but now it's out for everyone to play with.

It's a completely new concept of tab management: today, it's very easy to have too many tabs. I mean, 12-13 tabs is already "too many". Just try doing three or four things at once with your browser (checking out a link someone sent you, doing some research for work, checking out travel options, reading DownloadSquad and following some links) and see how confusing it all gets. It's a mess!

Tab Candy is a radical re-imagining of the whole notion of tabs. You browse using Firefox, as per usual. When you start feeling you have too many tabs, just hit Ctrl-Space. The screen instantly zooms out, and each tab becomes a tile. Now the fun begins.

Grab a tile and drag it out of the group; it detaches and floats freely. Throw another tile onto it – now it's a group. Now you can click the top of the group and label it, say "apartment hunting". When you click this group, it expands back into "regular" Firefox mode, but now only with the four or five tabs you're using for apartment hunting. Of course, any new tabs you add get added onto this group. I know this sounds like "saved sessions meets visual tabs", but it's so much more.

This is not an extension; rather, it's a very early Alpha build of Firefox 4. Also, the potential is far from realized; if you think I sound excited now, check out Aza's video after the jump – he goes into hyperdrive somewhere around the 3-minute mark.

There is lots more to this concept than what I've covered above; for example, you could have a tab group shared with a friend in real-time, where each sees what the other is doing and you're both researching something together. Or you could send tabs to a friend just by dragging them somewhere on this canvas.

The possibilities are really mind-boggling, and the UI is very impressive and intuitive. If you're brave, go download an Alpha build and take it for a spin. They are really looking for feedback.

I can't wait to see this concept come to fruition. So much more can be done with it; for example, you could have certain tabs "age" and disappear after a while. Or, as Raskin notes and illustrates, you could have extensions which customize tab groups and add their own information or metadata ... this could be the beginning of something epic. Watch the video for more!

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Tags: awesome, AzaRaskin, firefox, tabs, usability