Redesigned: Firefox Tabbed Browsing

As you probably know, tabbed browsing has been around for a number of years. I first came across it when exploring the Mozilla Firefox Web browser that came bundled with Ubuntu Linux. A relative latecomer to the tabbed browsing party was Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 7, but to Microsoft’s credit, they have produced a fine implementation of the technology.

In particular, IE7 offers two exceedingly useful features in their version of tabbed browsing. First, a partial tab is always visible on the right hand end of the line of open tabs, as shown below. Clicking on that mini tab creates a new tab, thus avoiding the need to use the File, New Tab menu.

The second feature is more obscure. Tucked away, deep down in the Tools menu (Tools, Internet Options, Tabs/Settings) is a checkbox that says “Open homepage for new tab instead of a blank page.” This one is killer! IE7 allows you to specify that any new tab should display your default Web page. Talk about convenience!

In fact, I found this feature in IE7 so useful that I was actually reluctant to continue using Firefox and having to resort back to the File, New Tab option on its menu system. But then I got to thinking! Firefox is well known as an open source browser and there are many available add ons that extend the program’s functionality. So, I was thinking perhaps there was an add on that would provide a link to a new tab and a default Web page.

A little searching with Google took me to a Firefox extension that showed some promise! It’s called New Tab Button on Tab Bar 2.0 and it simply adds a button to the tab bar. Then, when clicked, the button opens up a new tab. If that’s something you think you might enjoy, you can install that extension right here. But, Firefox still doesn’t let you specify a Web page to be opened on the blank tab.

So, I sent an e-mail to Mike Goodspeed, the add on’s author, asking if he had considered extending his program code so that each new tab can be configured to open a specific page (like Internet Explorer 7).

I received a same day reply that I found both interesting and informative! I really admired Mike’s minimalist programming philosophy. He said, “I try really hard to keep out any options. Plus, I see this extension as trivial enough to be one feature and one feature alone.” But, he was also gracious enough to provide the information necessary to solve my problem. He wanted me to try this extension instead.

The latter turned out to be New Tab Homepage 0.3 by Ben Basson. As it states, this add on to Firefox “loads your homepage when you open a new tab. If you have multiple homepages, the first is chosen.”

So, having installed the two add ons, I now have the best of both worlds: Mike Goodspeed’s button to quickly bring up a new tab and Ben Basson’s routine to load my homepage when I hit the new tab button. It doesn’t get any better than that!

Give both of them a try for yourself today!

~ Alan German