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Firefox Mozilla Open Source Software

Mozilla Is Removing Tab Groups and Complete Themes From Firefox (venturebeat.com) 316

An anonymous reader writes: As part of Mozilla's "Go Faster" initiative for Firefox, the company is removing features that aren't used by many and require a lot of technical effort to continually improve. VentureBeat learned that the first two features to get the axe are tab groups and complete themes. Dave Camp, Firefox’s director of engineering, said, "Tab Groups was an experiment to help users deal with large numbers of tabs. Very few people chose to use it, so we are retiring it because the work required to maintain it is disproportionate to its popularity."
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Mozilla Is Removing Tab Groups and Complete Themes From Firefox

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  • What's next? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I cringe at the thought of what they are going to remove next. Based on the complete disconnection from their users lately, I predict they'll remove something that will cause the rest of the users to abandon ship. What could it be? Bookmarks? The URL bar? Scrollbars? The minimize button? The close button? The back button?

    Trust me, it will be something just as ridiculous.

    • Re:What's next? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by arglebargle_xiv ( 2212710 ) on Sunday November 22, 2015 @06:27AM (#50979397)

      Dear Mozilla,

      I understand you've been having problems with continuously-dropping market share, going from a high of 50-odd-percent to under ten percent, and heading steadily for zero. I understand that you plan to remove some things to try and reverse this ongoing decline. Could I suggest removing all of:

      • Australis.
      • Copying everything Chrome does.
      • Memory leaks.
      • Pocket.
      • Asa Dotzler.

      Thanks,
      The rapidly-diminishing community of Firefox users.

      • by Aboroth ( 1841308 ) on Sunday November 22, 2015 @08:16AM (#50979611)
        I think Firefox would get a lot more loyal users if they replaced "Dotzler" with "Akira."
      • their problem is Google pulled their funding, which rapidly shrunk their development budget. They're having to cut features that folks don't use much. And Firefox hasn't had memory leaks in years. Check your plugins. I'll give you Pocket though. It's a stupid feature that I'm assuming they got paid to include....
        • by Tim the Gecko ( 745081 ) on Sunday November 22, 2015 @10:24AM (#50979989)

          their problem is Google pulled their funding

          No, Mozilla decided to go with Yahoo: Yahoo usurps Google in Firefox search deal [reuters.com]

          • by Ramze ( 640788 ) on Sunday November 22, 2015 @07:12PM (#50982225)

            That's a heck of a spin on the situation. Google paid to be Firefox's default search engine for 10 years. It released the Chrome browser in 2008 and many wondered why it still paid Firefox to be their default search engine when Chrome had the same or higher market share. (answer was it was still worth it!)

            When Google was just a search engine, they were fine paying Mozilla for Google to be Firefox's default search engine.
            After Google Chrome's market share far exceeded Firefox's, they had their own solid browser platform to push Google as a default search engine. Their strategy changed. They no longer had to pay to get a wide audience, and the best way to get more browsers with Google as default was to push Google Chrome and crush Firefox. I'm sure they would have given something to be Firefox's default, but not as much as Yahoo was offering -- and likely nowhere near the amount they'd been paying prior to the Yahoo offer either.

            Yahoo needed a win to boost their search income, and they got it. It was a large increase for Yahoo, but a small loss for Google... and Google is winning firefox users over to Chrome, and helping remaining firefox users to switch their search back to Google.

            http://computing.dcu.ie/~humph... [computing.dcu.ie]

            It made perfect sense for Google to shrug off the tiny, declining value of Firefox search engine users as they expected to pick up market share from those leaving Firefox as well as continuing to pick up market share from those scampering off the sinking IE ship.

            Meanwhile, Mozilla is running out of cash and slashing features on Firefox to save on expenses while picking up crap like Pocket to survive. It's truly sad that they're likely getting 90% of their revenue from another dying company (Yahoo) and wasting money on developing phones no one asked for. I fear they may not recover from this death spiral. (over 90% of their revenues from previous years came from Google... and you know that was more money than Yahoo gave them b/c they admit they're slashing expenses and begging for cash).

        • by Osgeld ( 1900440 )

          no their problem is firefox continues to be a slow, memory hogging, pain in the ass that does absolutely nothing special because they are too busy trying to make a poor mans chrome clone

    • Considering how they're working lately, my guess is the next thing to be removed is the plugin support since they know best what functions their browser needs.

      Pocket is proof thereof. If anything, this could have been solved by a plugin rather than shoving it down everyone's throat.

      • Considering how they're working lately, my guess is the next thing to be removed is the plugin support since they know best what functions their browser needs.

        Pocket is proof thereof. If anything, this could have been solved by a plugin rather than shoving it down everyone's throat.

        Well, umm.... *cough* *cough* [ibtimes.co.uk]

        • Re:What's next? (Score:5, Informative)

          by Dagger2 ( 1177377 ) on Sunday November 22, 2015 @07:41AM (#50979535)

          That article is talking about plugins. The GP is actually talking about extensions. They're two very different types of add-ons.

          Of course, they're also dropping support for extensions (and replacing it with support for slightly-improved Greasemonkey scripts). You can't make this stuff up, folks.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I cringe at the thought of what they are going to remove next.

      Why? If Mozilla removes something it's all wailing and gnashing of teeth, if they add something it's called bloat, if they don't add something it's "where's my feature??" Nothing Mozilla does will appease the Slashdot groupthink.

    • by gtall ( 79522 )

      This is why I use Seamonkey, the interface doesn't change. I don't have to stand on my head and hop up and down just to use it.

  • Hmmmmm.. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by simp ( 25997 ) on Sunday November 22, 2015 @06:22AM (#50979389)

    Hmm.. Ok, I don't use tab groups and themes so I'm not affected. But what happens when they take away a feature that I use.? Who will speak out for me?
    I still do not understand why it is so hard to have a flexible UI. Some people want a sidebar, a a statusbar, themes, etc... Why is there this unstoppable move to remove features and make everything look like an empty sheet of paper..

    Hopefully mozilla seamonkey will continue the traditional interface. It is the only browser with has large buttons so I don't have to have sniper skills to click on a forward/back stop button on my 4k screen.

    • Re:Hmmmmm.. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Brave Guy ( 457657 ) on Sunday November 22, 2015 @08:49AM (#50979701)

      I still do not understand why it is so hard to have a flexible UI.

      One factor is that the underlying codebase evidently has some significant architectural problems, which unfortunately Mozilla haven't been able to resolve in a long time. This line gets wheeled out time and again to explain why Firefox still doesn't support important features like proper isolation between tabs, and sometimes also for more minor issues like why security warnings sometimes don't match up with what's actually happening on the page.

      I can't help thinking that if they had focussed on getting their software architecture house in order first, before all the whizzy new features and never-ending UI rearrangements that no-one actually seems to want, Firefox would look and feel a lot different today. I see happy users citing Pale Moon every time these discussions come up now, and perhaps that's why.

      • by Lennie ( 16154 )

        "proper isolation between tabs"

        That's easy, because for a long long time they tried to transition to it without breaking to many addons and converting some addons.

        There is probably no browser where addons is used as much as with Firefox.

    • by jbolden ( 176878 )

      I still do not understand why it is so hard to have a flexible UI.

      Because it creates lots of possibilities for strange interactions. Assume there are 5 optional browser elements that interact in weird ways with 1% of web elements. That creates: 32 combinations that have to be tested against web elements (or at the very least 10 pairs) and special handling for about 1/3rd (10%) of all web elements. Now assume the same odds but 25 optional elements still with a 1% chance. Then you are looking at 33.5m c

      • by jez9999 ( 618189 )

        Isn't it amazing that Mozilla managed adequately to test all these "strange interactions" back in the days of Firefox 3 when they had fewer resources? I guess they were just less lazy then.

      • I'm not sure exactly what you mean by "browser element" and "web element" or whether your assumptions are therefore realistic. But in any case, how is this any different to any other combinatorial problem for interactions in software architecture? And how come it can't be mitigated by constraining components' behaviour and limiting their ability to interact, also like any other similar problem in software architecture?

  • That's easy. Just remove all the crap you stuffed into your browser and have people who really want it use plugins.

  • I've been using Mozilla and Firefox for the past 15+ years (Mozilla application suite, switched to Firefox when it was released).
    In the past couple of years the main reason I kept on using Firefox was Tab-grouping.
    With that gone I'll most likely switch to Chrome and never look back.

    Either way, Firefox served me well. It'll be a shame to see it go.

  • by burni2 ( 1643061 ) on Sunday November 22, 2015 @06:44AM (#50979439)

    Let me explain:

    1.) Grouping Tabs in Opera12
    (Grab Tab, move it over the other Tab you like to put together to a group, Drop Tab)

    = works great easy to use, even my mother could use it (and mourned the downfall of Opera12, so let's just say when my mother could use it, the usability design was great)

    2.) Grouping Tabs in Firefox
    (Press CTRL + Shift +E) Everybody would knew that
    And now you get an overloaded preview of all open Tabs

    I can only say I didn't knew that FF had tab support either.

    And my critisism is:
    Mozilla should really axe this feature because of usability issues and POCKET too(->plugins) many people don't use it either but are pestered with it's existence which is because it's prominently placed!

    And we could also think about Opera12's visual start page with icons and the way Mozilla implemented it.
    (with the idea of making money)

    Data is the gold of the 21st century let's do some alchemy and turn gold into dirt!

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Okay, I just tried the tab group feature (that I forgot even existed) and accidentally closed all my tabs... Point taken.

      • by Ken D ( 100098 )

        And this is exactly why I never used Tab Groups.

        When they came out I tried the feature. Put my tabs into a group (might have been by accident).
        There was no way to Ungroup my tabs.
        There was no way to reopen a closed Group or to identify what tabs were in the group after it was closed.

        I lost all my tabs and immediately disabled the feature because undo is always a requirement.

    • by Sigma 7 ( 266129 )

      (Press CTRL + Shift +E) Everybody would knew that

      There's actually an icon at the top right corner...

      Of course, I knew that Tab Groups existed for quite a long time, but didn't use them as the implementation is awful - on par with something that an average programmer could do themselves. The most obvious bit is that creating a second tab group instantly makes it harder to manage tabs outside the current tab group.

      It's also pure overlap with an existing tag group system, known as a window.

  • by X.25 ( 255792 ) on Sunday November 22, 2015 @07:15AM (#50979503)

    I heavily use tab groups and I know quite few people who also use it (as opposed to not knowing a single person that even knows what Pocket is, let alone use it).

    Tab groups is pretty much the last reason I have for using Firefox over Chrome.

    They really want to die :(

    • Tab groups is also the primary reason I use FF instead of Chrome. if they get rid of them, I'll have no compelling reason to choose FF. Also many people don't use them because they don't know they exist. I've taught people how to use them, and they were happy after that. You especially have to change the default configuration to remember the last tabs open to appreciate them.
  • And I'm gonna be sad to see them go.
    I use them to group tabs by topic: I one group for example I have Android API tabs, in other Redmine tabs, etc. It works very well for me.
    It also doesn't surprise me that they are a seldom used feature because, since it's not an expected feature of a browser you first have to learn of its existence and then use it. It's very much a "power user" feature. I hope there's a way to implement a similar functionality with extensions.
  • Tab groups are generally essential to any research efforts I do. I will not like to see them go. Fortunately, someone will build an extension or plugin that will restore the functionality to Firefox. If there was a NoScript plugin for Chrome, I'd probably use Chrome instead of a Firefox without tab groups.

    • Same here - they were a great idea and despite them not getting the user base they deserve (which is perhaps understandable considering they're not an in-your-face UI thing) they do serve the needs of some people very well indeed.

      And maybe this is the point - if you remove all the functionality that is not used by the ordinary user, then you'll end up with a browser that is suited solely for the ordinary user.

      I use tab groups a work, my lunchtime browsing is kept tucked away for lunchtime, and then I return

  • Electrolysis project (Score:5, Informative)

    by Malc ( 1751 ) on Sunday November 22, 2015 @08:16AM (#50979607)

    Meanwhile another year has passed and they still haven't completed the Electrolysis project (multi-process browser).

    The monolithic process with all its memory leaks and unrestrained memory growth, and no way to figure out which tab was eating all the CPU and draining my laptop battery meant I switched to Chrome and Safari years ago. FF is not fit for purpose.

  • who never used any of those two features, so I guess it won't affect me. But I do feel happy that Mozilla is working on making Firefox run faster. I use it on four different OSes, and it would be appreciated if they made it tidier and faster.

  • I see that Mozilla is now using the same brain-dead customer feedback method that Microsoft used to remove major features because they were supposedly not used. Microsoft said that no one really used the Windows Start Menu so they just took it out completely in Windows 8. Well we see how well that worked for them. Millions of people were loading Classic Shell and other add-ons to get their Start Menu back. It was a total disaster! They probably lost billions in sales before they realized their stupidity and

  • Survey data (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    After last Pocket discussion i've run a survey in my company.
    Of 73 persons still using Firefox as their main browser:

    • 65 use themes to make Firefox look native on OSX and various Linux desktops
    • 1 (single person) use Pocket
    • 1 (single person) use Personas
    • 0 (nobody) use Sync
    • 73 hate "Suggested Sites"
    • 73 hate constant UI and behaviour changes
  • I used to love Firefox, because it was demonstrably better than IE. It was easier to use, less spammy, and frankly, fun to stick it to Microsoft. It was even worth the occasional memory apocalypse.

    Haven't used it for several years now, except for testing. I can get dumbed down interfaces and adware anywhere, thanks very much.

  • Currently, I am a Firefox user - but maybe not for much longer if they carry on like this.

    First, they introduce Australis, and refuse to listen to any of their users complaining that it suffers from bad usability.

    For a long time, I was using the full theme support, in order to not have to use crappy Australis. I stopped doing so, not because I don't want to use theme support, but because the themes themselves don't work with newer versions - continual bloody cat and mouse game.

    I've never used tab groups, bu

  • by CanadianMacFan ( 1900244 ) on Sunday November 22, 2015 @09:25AM (#50979807)

    Then just let the bugs sit since they aren't too major and say they won't get fixed until someone volunteers to fix them. There will still be a bit of effort required for testing and integration but it's open source. That means someone who really wants to fix the feature can come alone and fix it. Just announce that you aren't going to spend your efforts on it and that you need volunteers. Then if nobody steps up in a year or two think about removing it.

    • by Lennie ( 16154 )

      They tried that with other projects nobody came.

      My guess is they are trying to change a bunch of stuff and it is a lot work to transition this over as well.

  • From TFA, "As we’ve said before, a difficult transitional period is coming up for Firefox users...."

    .
    Firefox users have been going through a difficult period for the past few years, as the Mozilla bureaucracy has boated Firefox with things like Pocket, and removed features such as efficiency and sleekness.

    Now the Mozilla bureaucracy will be removing things like the Compact Classic theme, forcing the remaining Firefox users to use the rigid Australis user interface.

    As Firefox again flirts with da [networkworld.com]

  • Their terminally stupid UI "improvements" ruined Firefox. I stopped caring a while ago. Obviously they never heard about "if it is not broken, do not fix it". These people must be some of the worst, most self-absorbed and most deaf engineers on the planet.

  • Tree Style Tabs (Score:4, Informative)

    by unencode200x ( 914144 ) on Sunday November 22, 2015 @12:35PM (#50980491)
    I hope this doesn't affect my Tree Style Tabs Plugin. It's the only reason I stay on FireFox and it's awesome. You can have the tabs on the side and have subtabs which keep everything organized and nice to use.

    Chrome doesn't have anything comparable. Chrome's extension is ugly and the tabs are in a separate, weird window. I can't go back to tabs at the top.
    • This. Tree Style Tabs is also what's keeping me on Firefox. For me, it is *the* killer feature. And I note that it's provided by an extension, as tab groups undoubtedly will be if it's at all technically possible and there's a developer with the desire to keep the functionality alive.
    • Opera has something close (Tab Sidebar [opera.com]), but it's extremely basic atm, and has a few too many quirks --- especially when you have more than one window with Tabs.
      Chrome & Opera can use Sidewise --- which also has quirks since it is forced to run in it's own window, because Google.
      Sidewise does at least allow for TreeStyle pseudo-tabs, and suspended windows/tabs/sessions.

      So even with "Tab Sidebar" you still wind up needing at least one or more other extensions, and it still doesn't match FF's TreeStyl

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