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View Full Version : hierarchial tabs (maintabs /subtabs)


dietmar1
2006-05-08, 09:53 AM
hi there

somewhere i┤ve seen a cool GUI idea where the tab view o pages is hierarchial. So if u go on a webpage the startpage is the mainpage and if u go on a subpage from this page u can see this in hierarchial way in the tab drawer. (like in apples finder a folder with a subfolder, the mainfolder is left and the subfolder has a little space to the left windowborder and so on) It would be much cooler if one can see the tabs which are subpages of an also opened mainpage is are in a kinda folder of the mainpage. So u can open or close a lets call it "maintab" by clicking on a triangle and than see the hierarchial "subtabs".

That way u don┤t have to opne that many tabs just for ione mainhomepage.

Maybe for version 6.0?;)

Would be really great;)

Grets from austria, vienna

JKT
2006-05-08, 11:46 AM
iRider (http://www.irider.com/) - watch the demo movie.

dietmar1
2006-05-14, 08:04 AM
irider is just for windows and it┤s gui is not that beautifull as Omniwebs GUI;)

Pleaaaaaaaaaase add those feature in a feautre version, i would love that;)

pjb
2006-05-17, 12:56 PM
How about having a pane similar to the way the site preferences are available in a temporary pane that would, for a given browser window, display a complete hierarchical history and anatomy in an organization similar to Finder's column view or interactive graphical bread-crumb trail view (and leave the simple tab drawer in place for less complicated navigation).

I use the current tab drawer to collect sites in Workspaces that automatically load and sit ready to read. I would like the detailed history and site anatomy function not be overlaid on that interface device but can see it as a useful power feature.

Bob Williams
2006-07-08, 12:08 AM
iRider (http://www.irider.com/) - watch the demo movie.

A lot of the movie is a flashy demo showing little that is new to folks who aren't stuck in the dark ages of Win IE. However, there are three features there that I really like:

- The smart association of tabs with the tabs that opened them. I filed a formal feature request a while back that asked for a way to have background tabs open behind the current tab, rather than at the end of the list. I think this feature is essentially the same thing, though iRider's indentation of tabs is definitely a plus.

- The ability to drag through the list of open tabs to see them all quickly. I think a dedicated drag region or required use of a modifier is best for this (so as to not impede dragging of the tabs themselves), but I can envision myself using it quite a bit.

- The ability to quickly open all the links within a selection. Again, I think iRider's way of doing it is less than ideal--perhaps a simple contextual menu command would work well along with dragging the selection to the tab drawer--but the feature is solid. Of course, this would mean, at the very least, that content selection on a page would have to seriously improve. For some reason, this has been a big deficiency in every single Mac browser since the beginning. For added points, allowing rectangular selection would be way-cool.

Handycam
2006-07-08, 05:14 AM
The ability to drag through the list of open tabs to see them all quickly.

Opera 9 does this. Hover over a tab to see the tab's content.

Of course, in OW the contents of the tab is always visible.

And FWIW, irider isn't opening tabs per se, it's visually displaying the browsing history. This would quickly drive me insane. I personally think OW's tabs are more than sufficient.

A "tab" is a page you want to hold on to while viewing another page, keeping a few pages handy for switching back and forth faster than bookmarks. OW puts them in a handy drawer, so that they don't impinge on the browsing area, which stays the same size. It further (optionally) shows thumbnails of the tab content, so you can quickly see what was what. And you can re-order them, open each in a new window, etc. You can drag links to the drawer to make a tab. You can drag an image to the drawer to open it separately.

IMHO it's a well-thought-out and nice setup. Just my 2 cents.

Bob Williams
2006-07-08, 12:32 PM
OW's tabs are definitely better than most browsers' tabs--especially in the area of management--but that doesn't mean they couldn't be improved. And one problem is that the thumbnails are small enough that you can't differentiate between similar pages. For example, if I open several product pages at a shopping site, or several articles at a news site, the pages will typically look exactly the same except for some text content and maybe a different picture (but often in the same spot). Shrink the pages down by 98%-99% (as required to fit on my 12" PB's screen and still allow enough screen width to browse--and yes, I just did the math so that ratio is accurate), and "differentiation" leaves your vocabulary. And more often than not, the titles are even more useless, since you can only see the first part.

In fact, right now, I have a few different OG forum pages pulled up. The thumbnails all look virtually identical, so I can't tell them apart visually, and the title text underneath every thumbnail is "Omni Group F...", which is also useless for navigation. How do I tell them apart? By looking at each of them in succession. Right now, that means either clicking on each of them or using the keyboard to move through them - but either way, it's an action repeated for each one, and that makes it tedious. To be able to simply drag the mouse over the tabs (preferably with a modifier held down) and rapidly see the content of all the tabs would let me find the one I want that much quicker.

Hmm, even better would be a modifier-activated mode where you could simply mouse-over a tab to see its contents full-size. That way, you wouldn't have to hold down the mouse button. All of this assumes, of course, that OW could handle the display changes as quickly as they appeared to be handled in the iRider video; if it were too slow, the tedium would immediately return.

Handycam
2006-07-08, 02:05 PM
And one problem is that the thumbnails are small enough that you can't differentiate between similar pages.

You do know they can be made as large as you like, right?

http://stevelombardi.com/ow/tabs.png

Forrest
2006-07-08, 02:31 PM
You do know they can be made as large as you like, right?

He did say as required to fit on my 12" PB's screen and still allow enough screen width to browse

And I think that's the source of the issue. Much of Apple's own web site wont fit into 1024x768 if you have the dock on the side. I have a 12" PB as well, but I recognize I'm sacrificing usability for size.

I have found that if screen real estate is an issue for me, I just get a bigger screen.

Bob Williams
2006-07-08, 02:44 PM
You do know they can be made as large as you like, right?

More accurately, they can be made as large as your available screen real estate will allow. And, bigger costs more....

On my desktop where I have multiple giant screens, big tabs themselves aren't a problem. On my 12" PB, however (or any other similarly tight screen - and there are still a *lot* of 1024x768 screens out there), you just can't make the tabs too big. Even without the tabs visible at all, it can be a challenge to read some sites that are designed for bigger screens, or even sites designed for smaller screens but which for some reason overflow their normal width (e.g., forums where people post wide images, often causing the whole forum to be just as wide). And let's not forget folks who may have bigger screens but who choose to keep their window sized less than full-screen.

Plus, even on bigger screens with full-size windows, bigger tabs come at the expense of the number of tabs you can display in one screen-full. Since I generally have at least a dozen tabs open in a given window, and often many more than that, this is important to me as I don't want to spend too much time scrolling up and down looking for a particular tab.

The bottom line: for light users with no more than a handful of tabs open at any given time and a big screen, their ideal solution is to make the tabs giant and be done with it. But for the more power-surfer type, this solution entails some major usability compromises. And in the case of OW, the only major pay-for browser remaining on the Mac, I suspect most users are of the latter type.

Handycam
2006-07-08, 02:53 PM
Sorry, I'm a bit spoiled on a 17" PB. I didn't notice your size constraint.

I suppose a solution like Opera's is nice, then. Small tabs that show a thumbnail on hover. Tab exposÚ is a nice option, too, I suppose.

Forrest
2006-07-08, 03:01 PM
and there are still a *lot* of 1024x768 screens out there

I'm curious if that's really the case. Most Macs made in the OS X era did not come with an option for such a small screen - but bigger. The 12" & 14" iBooks and the 12" PB's are the only Macs to ship in that timeframe that would support OS X.

You also brought up an interesting point about OW being more for power users. I tend to agree with that. With only a small minority of Macs having such a small screen, I wonder how many power users still use such a small screen.

And if the OW was to implement an ExposÚ type feature, the hardware requirements for that alone with exclude most Macs that have such a small screen.

One simple solution may be an option for the tabs to go along the bottom of the window.

Alas, I'm about ready to dump my 12" PB and get a MBP.

Handycam
2006-07-08, 03:08 PM
Good points.

FWIW, here's Opera's implementation if you haven't tried it yet:

http://stevelombardi.com/ow/operatabs.png

Bob Williams
2006-07-08, 03:54 PM
I'm curious if that's really the case. Most Macs made in the OS X era did not come with an option for such a small screen - but bigger. The 12" & 14" iBooks and the 12" PB's are the only Macs to ship in that timeframe that would support OS X.

I believe all the CRT iMacs had the same resolution, and I think those weren't replaced until late '02 or early '03. What about eMacs, which were just replaced in the last few days? I don't know how many of these machines are running OW, but they are OS X-era machines.

Also, don't discount the iBooks and 12" PBs. There are a ton of them out there. Just follow discussions on sites like MacInTouch, and you'll see that there's a pent-up power-user desire for compact, lightweight laptops, and these machines are the closest Apple's gotten since the 2400 era.

And let's not forget people who don't want their browser window to be full-screen.

You also brought up an interesting point about OW being more for power users. I tend to agree with that. With only a small minority of Macs having such a small screen, I wonder how many power users still use such a small screen.

Ah, but it's also the power users who would tend to want their windows smaller than full-screen, especially when they only have one screen (as when out-and-about on the PB/MB). Say you're tweaking a page's HTML in the source editor or in BBEdit and trying to see the effects of your tweaks. Or referring to some other document as you enter data into a web form. Or just about anything else where you're doing multiple tasks that tie together and include web browsing.

Also, with Apple's move to wide screens, even the bigger screens don't have much more vertical resolution than smaller screens from the past. For instance, the MBs, including the hot-selling black one, only offer an additional 32 pixels of vertical space over my 12" PB. When you make your tabs bigger, you're not only making them horizontally bigger, but also vertically bigger. Thus, you can make them bigger to take better advantage of your extra horizontal space, but you're going to be quickly eating up your more limited vertical space and will end up doing more scrolling. The more you can minimize scrolling, the more effective the tabs are. In this way, both dimensions are important and must be considered.

(This need to consider both dimensions is why I really don't care for Apple's move to wider screens. Most of what we do on computers is far more efficient with extra vertical space, not extra horizontal space, Apple's somewhat failed attempts to design the UI of their recent apps to widescreen not withstanding. And the one thing that the extra width *is* really good for--watching movies--is also compromised because the aspect ratio still isn't wide enough, being 16:10 instead of the video-standard 16:9. All around, a bunch of comprises for the sake of coolness that brings little real benefit and plenty of real downsides.)

And if the OW was to implement an ExposÚ type feature, the hardware requirements for that alone with exclude most Macs that have such a small screen.

I don't think we need anything so fancy and hardware-draining as an ExposÚ-type feature. What I'm envisioning is that you can hold down a modifier, mouse-over a tab, and see it full-size in the content area. Move the mouse down over another tab and you'll see that one at full size. A click, which intuitively makes sense following a mouse-over, would bring full focus to the currently visible tab. That's it. There are no extra UI controls to clutter things up, no fancy graphical effects to require Core Image or lots of coding by Omni, and the feature doesn't get in the way of those who don't need it. It's a perfect example of feature evolution and a very nice refinement of OW's excellent tabs.

I can even see folks starting to expand their use of the feature for new ways of doing things. For instance, say you want to keep an eye on a regularly updating status web page of some sort. Instead of periodically switching to it and switching back, you can just mouse over the appropriate tab real quick to get a glance at what's happening, then mouse back to return to what you were doing. It's less intrusive - sort of like what Dashboard offers, but purely within the context of the browser.

One simple solution may be an option for the tabs to go along the bottom of the window.

I think this would exasperate the problem for widescreen users, since their vertical space is already tight.

That does illustrate the need, however, to better address different sizes and shapes of screens with more options for the tab drawer. OW makes some concessions now, but just not enough. I think that's why complaints related to its tabs and screen space are the most common complaints I see levied against OW even in otherwise positively glowing discussion.

zottel
2006-07-12, 01:23 PM
Just an idea for this problem:

Maybe OW could check if there are several tabs the titles of which start with the same string - and if so, put that string to the end of the title. I.e. change "Wikipedia: foo" and "Wikipedia: bar" to "foo - Wikipedia:" and "bar - Wikipedia:". Only for the tabs, not for the actual page titles shown on top of the window. (The colon at the end in this example, or maybe " - " at the end etc. isn't too nice, but you won't see this in most cases, anyway, and it would be too much of a hassle to try to do that nicely. :-) )

Thus, the title could tell more of he actual page underneath for tabs.

Could be a problem, though, if you are looking at several forum entries with similar titles, like "I want foo" and "I want bar" - "I want" would be put to the end in that case, too.

Handycam
2006-07-12, 04:37 PM
I don't see the problem here. if you hover over the tab, the full title and URL are displayed in a large tooltip.

I realize that very similar pages are hard to tell apart. But in most cases, you can tell the pages apart even in a tiny preview window in the drawer.

I always thought the tab previews are best used as a visual "reminder" of which page is which -- not really big enough to actually READ.

In the following example, I can easily see which page is which, can't you?

http://stevelombardi.com/ow/smalltabs.png

and if two pages look the same when tiny, a simple rollover clears things up, as in:

http://stevelombardi.com/ow/tooltip.png

Where's the problem?

Forrest
2006-07-12, 04:46 PM
well, then you have to actually move over your tabs. I know people who have hundreds of them, possibly thousands in different workspaces. It takes a half second or so for that popup to display.

The current window I have open has six tabs. To mouse over them and see the full names took seven seconds. To read the captions on each took two seconds. Keep in mind I do that possibly thousands a time a day... it really adds up.

That said, I'm good at knowing what tabs I have open and organizing them so I only need to look at them visually and not read them. It took me ~1 second to scan through my open tabs to see and think what each one was.

Bob Williams
2006-07-12, 05:14 PM
Maybe OW could check if there are several tabs the titles of which start with the same string - and if so, put that string to the end of the title. I.e. change "Wikipedia: foo" and "Wikipedia: bar" to "foo - Wikipedia:" and "bar - Wikipedia:".

Interestingly, I just noticed that OW appears to do exactly that, or at least it's doing it right now. I was specifically paying attention to the titles, and when a new tab opened that started with the same string, OW adjusted both of them to make the start unique. After 20 minutes of testing, it seems to happen every time; yet, when I posted yesterday, OW hadn't done it with the forum tabs, and I've had that problem before - so perhaps the feature is a bit buggy.

Bob Williams
2006-07-12, 06:01 PM
I don't see the problem here. if you hover over the tab, the full title and URL are displayed in a large tooltip.

But as someone else pointed out, that's a slow process. In that case, it took 1.17 seconds to preview a tab. Depending on how heavy a user of tabs you are, that could add up to anything from a few minutes per day to to something approaching an hour. Plus, all of the extra mousing around takes its toll ergonomically. In my own case, the time and the mousing are even bigger penalties because I have OW set to only show the hover tag when I hover over the name of the tab, rather than the whole tab. (Otherwise, I find that I often leave the pointer over a tab when I start reading a page, and end up with that large tooltip blocking content. Cutting the hover zone down to just the name means this is a lot less likely to happen.)

I realize that very similar pages are hard to tell apart. But in most cases, you can tell the pages apart even in a tiny preview window in the drawer.

I always thought the tab previews are best used as a visual "reminder" of which page is which -- not really big enough to actually READ.

That's exactly right - they're there to serve as a visual reminder. And in cases like the one you posted, they work fine for that. But in other cases, like the one I've attached, they don't work so fine. It just depends on the contents of the tabs. The titles are helpful but not completely reliable. Plus, falling back to the title--or worse, the hover tooltip--completely defeats the whole point of having visual tabs, which means in these cases, OW might as well save the screen real estate by not offering the visual option.

Where's the problem?

I can't help but ask the same question from my own perspective. The feature I'm suggesting simply extends the visual navigation method that OW offers. When the tiny likenesses that the tabs offer are sufficient, that's great - nothing more is needed. But when those small tabs are not sufficient, you're currently forced to fall back to the old-fashioned method of using the title, and when that's insufficient, the hover pop-up. With this feature, you would never *need* to fall back out of the visual way of doing things. Further, the feature adds zero complexity for new users, and it will stay completely out of the way of power users who don't want to or don't need to use it, all of which means it shouldn't have much of an impact of Omni's support load. Finally, and this is just an educated guess from a programmer, it probably wouldn't be too difficult to implement.

Here's another idea. How about, instead of swapping the whole content area, just displaying a much larger (say 250xY or 300xY - or even adjustable via a default) image within the hover pop-up? This would let Omni avoid swapping the whole content area (even if just by temporarily mapping to a different buffer), which may have too much overhead to be quick under OS X's slow graphics engine on older machines. Combine this with a modifier check to show the pop-up immediately as the mouse is moved around--and working on the whole tab even when the auto-popup is set only for the title--and the problem is solved.

What are folks thoughts on this revised version?

zottel
2006-07-14, 03:24 PM
Interestingly, I just noticed that OW appears to do exactly that, or at least it's doing it right now. I was specifically paying attention to the titles, and when a new tab opened that started with the same string, OW adjusted both of them to make the start unique. After 20 minutes of testing, it seems to happen every time; yet, when I posted yesterday, OW hadn't done it with the forum tabs, and I've had that problem before - so perhaps the feature is a bit buggy.

I think they changed the behaviour of the Omni Forums. Look at the page title in the window title bar - a few days ago, iirc, it was "The Omni Group Forums - <topic>", now it is "<topic> - The Omni Group Forums". Is that what you saw?

Bob Williams
2006-07-14, 04:26 PM
That's what I'm seeing for the title now, and I verified it with the HTML source.

When I posted that, however, I saw a very different behavior. I had one tab open, and it started with "The Omni...xxx". I opened another forum thread tab in the background, and saw it open with the same title. Then, almost immediate, both tabs' titles changed to "xxx", but when I clicked on them, the window title was still "Omni...xxx".

I just checked another site and verified that the behavior is still present. Try going to macnn.com and command-clicking a couple of the news stories. Pay attention to the titles before and after, and check the titles after as you click between the tabs. I saw the same thing at eBay by opening several of the listings in a category in background tabs. I didn't verify eBay just now, but I'd be surprised if it's changed.

Thinking back, I've for a long time noticed out of the corner of my eye a flickering around tabs' titles and--I would have sworn--titles changing. I never had time to sit down and really see what was happening, however, and my sub-brain sort of attributed it to sites playing games with JavaScript. Perhaps it was this feature all along. But again, it's apparently not 100% reliable since I regularly run into tabs with the title issue, including on this forum before it was changed. (Seeing the problem periodically is perhaps why I never associated the behavior I thought I was seeing with the feature.)

But for Omni to go and quietly change the forum at a time like this--man, that's dirty. Talk about making you think you're crazy :-).

JKT
2006-07-17, 10:49 AM
OmniWeb has been truncating tabs with the same title since version 5.0 IIRC. That is, if two tabs start with the same text, the title is truncated to only show any text that is unique.