IE UI Designer Switches to Firefox

This article has everything. An ex-IE team member explains why he no longer uses IE, switches to Firefox – and then gives us some UI advice so we don’t get too complacent. :-) Most of his comments are great; one thought:

IE intentionally brings the browser history into the new window: the bet being that users who want to continue from where they left off can, and those that want to go their home page can do that with one click.

…but if you have a Java applet in that page which is communicating with a server, it can really stuff things up because you then get two of them. Having worked on such a product, this behaviour is actually one of my pet hates about IE. I love Firefox’s New Tab behaviour – Ctrl-T and I have a nice blank canvas, with the location bar focussed, ready to go whereever I please. It’s as satisfying as turning to a new, crisp, white page in a notebook. Mmm. :-)

The “continue from where you left off in a new window” model for Firefox is “open in background tab”; you don’t open new windows with copies of the current page and then navigate in multiple directions, you navigate directly in those directions from the original copy. Much nicer, IMO.

23 thoughts on “IE UI Designer Switches to Firefox

  1. What about a third way? open a blank page, but with a copy of the history of the tab I opend the new tab from (the same goes for windows). That would give us the best of two worlds.

  2. I agree with Abdulkadir. Currently we have to choose between tabs and the back button. I open almost every link in a new tab, meaning that the back button has become useless for me. Bug 18808, I think.

  3. I would have no problem with “open link in new tab” taking a copy of the history with it. That would solve the problem without the cloning behaviour.

  4. I find it interesing that Berkun hates the Go menu so much, since (in my view) this is exactly what the Go menu is for. You have a list of all the pages you’ve seen recently, and you can access it from a nice clean new tab if you want to. Perfect.

  5. I disagree with you, and agree with the IE UI designer. I want my history.

    At the moment the back button is disabled, people who don’t want to use it don’t have to, people who do can’t. Enable it and bring the history and you get people who don’t want to don’t have to, people who do can.

  6. What would be nice is to keep a list of tab “children”.

    So once you close one tab, the focus is set to the tab that opened it.

  7. I feel the same way that Gerv does about this. Loading a the previous page in the tab (especialy with dynamic content) is a waste of time/processing. The way I browse and the way I’ve coverted all my friends to browsing is using blank tabs that focus on the url bar so that we can use quick searches or the browser history in the url bar (which is somewhat off in my opinion) to get to where we want the fastest way possible.

    I don’t see any problem with importing the history from the previous tab though.

    Honestly I can’t even figure out why you would want to load the previous page in a new tab, that just seems so completely backwards it hurts. How often do people need a brand new copy of the same page they were just staring it? In comparision to needing a new page to go somewhere else, to do something else to move to a new site, etc.

  8. i haven’t thought about this cloning a tab or not before, but i think it could really be useful if a new tab or window copied the history from the tab which it was opened from.

    therefore: i agree with abdulkadir (@abdulkadir: ich bin aus �sterreich und bin im namen meiner freunde sehr sehr dankbar f�r deine tolle �bersetzung!!)

  9. From the looks of things here, it looks like there are two camps that are quite certain that their way is the best. I think we should leave it up to the end users, keep the current setting as default, but allow users to copy histories if they want to. I wouldn’t like this to be what happens when I use ctrl-t, but it would be nice for tabs opened via links (IMHO).

  10. With a nod toward the Duplicate Tab extension, I think the best solution would be:

    ctrl+t – Opens blank tab with no history
    ctrl+shift+t – Duplicates current tab with history and current page
    Open link in new tab – Opens the page with history carried over

    A new tab is a new tab and shouldn’t (by default) carry anything over, but there should be a way to duplicate if one wants to. Clicking on a link (no matter where it opens, should not break the back button).

  11. There are several Extensions which offer “Clone this tab” (such as Duplicate Tab). Personally, I like having that feature available, but I rarely use it. Count me in the group that says “I like a clean, blank page.”

  12. Seems to me that it’s nice for
    1) ctrl+t to create a clean tab with no history
    2) “open link in new tab” to preserve history
    3) “duplicate tab” to load the current page in new tab with history

  13. I tend to use tabs in 2 ways:
    1) I use ctrl-T to open a new tab. When I do this, I want a clean slate — I’m gonna go to some unrelated url than my current tabset.
    2) I ctl-click on a link to open the link in a new tab. In this case, I’m typically somewhat mirroring the safari snapback feature (though I really never use that when in safari– I just use my firefox beahvior). Having history in this tab would be great.
    Seems like the engineering problem is divining the user’s intent — there appear to be times when bringing history in is definitely desired, and others where its definitely not desired. I’d guess that figuring out which is true is difficult.

    I like Caleb’s thought (tab children with auto focus on close to the parent), but I’d modify it to, on close of a child tab, visit the oldest sibling to the child tab being closed. Once the final child is closed, focus on parent. For instance, I frequently will read some page, ctrl-click on a few links in the article (I have load links in background set, so these tabs will load while I finish reading the current page. After reading the parent page, I visit the children — on close I typically want to visit the other children before returning to the parent.

  14. I use Ctrl+N all the time on IE and have found it annoying that I can’t do the same in Firefox. The ususal reason for wanting open the same page is if I’m looking at pages for example on Google, or any other links page, I follow a link, then decide I want to keep that page open while going back to look at another link, e.g. to compare. In Firefox I’d have to hit Back until I get back to Google, then right click on the same entry again to open it in a new window, then navigate to the bit I was looking at, before going back to the original browser and selecting the new link.

    What would be REALLY nice would be if you could right click on the Back button and open the previous page (with all history) in a new window. That would be better than IE.

  15. Actually the whole history drag option is the one thing that is deterring me from switching to firefox. lets say your on you tube or any other media site. you find something you want to look at but you want to see more as well, with IE you can clone the window, thus you have a marker of where you were, then with the new window you can go back and take a different path. this way you can preserve where you were and use another window to backtrack. i really like this functionality and dont understand why firefox dosent have that option. i mean why not make it a check box, or possibly the suggestions above…i dunno..

  16. I totally agree with Rhys Jones and UnknownElementx. In my opinion, there should have an option that would allow to copy the history along with a tab/window. I frequently used it with IE for the same purpose that UnknownElementx explained. That’s a very effective way to search and to keep the relevant pages we have found opened, while going back through the history to take a different branch. After you’re are all finished searching, you just have to consult all the windows left opened.

  17. I would love to see new tabs open with a copy of the history. Is this something a plugin can handle?