Internet Explorer and tabbed windows...
I’ve been having a closer look at IE7’s new tabbed windows feature over the past few days. There are some things I like, and some things I don’t.
Remember, this article is written about IE7 as it appears in Beta 1 – Beta 2, Beta 3 (if there is one) and Gold will most likely behave quite differently.
There are some lovely touches in the way tabs work – for example, when we open a new tab it defaults to about:blank and the address bar is already highlighted allowing us to quickly enter the URL that we want to visit. The first benefit of opening to about:blank is that the new tab opens very quickly, the second benefit is that a common complaint from the past (being that IE opens new windows with pre-populated, duplicate, content) is no longer an issue.
The tabs resize very nicely as more windows are opened, without using the horrid ‘torn tab’ look that programs such a FrontPage use.
Context menu: the ‘close other tabs’ option is a nice feature, as is ‘refresh all’. I wish there was also a ‘close all tabs’ option, similar to that offered by, for example, Deepnet Explorer.
There is a minimum width for IE tabs. Once that minimum width is reached, pre-existing tabs are pushed out of view to the left of screen, at which time navigation becomes a bit awkward. The only way to access these hidden tabs is by double-clicking the far left tab which make the IE window ‘jump’ one full screen of tabs to the left. The applies when navigating to the right.
But (there’s always a but). IE will only jump a full screen the first time that you double click a far left or right tab. After that it will only jump two tabs at a time. There is no way, that I can see, to jump from a far left to far right tab.
How could tabs be improved…
Better navigation ability when tabs scroll off screen.
A close all tabs option.
IE7 starts a new process when clicking on a hyperlink in an email. Now that IE supports tabs, this should not be happening. All hyperlinks should be opening in a new tab in the instance of IE that is already running.
Also, the right click context menu has two options – ‘open in new tab’ and ‘open in new window’. There is no need for the latter option anymore.
Admittedly, this site works much better in IE than in Deepnet. When using Deepnet, the log-in window does open as a tabbed window, but it is not properly sized in that once user name and password are entered and we have logged in, the window must be maximized before an essential navigation button is accessible, there being no scroll bars until the window is maximized. I’ll see about uploading some screen shots later so that you, kind reader, can easily compare the two browsers.