Firefox discontinues tab groups (aka Panorama) in favour of Pocket
Wed 18 Nov 2015
To my personal annoyance, The Mozilla Foundation are removing the Tab Groups feature (also known as Panorama) from the Firefox web browser from version 45 onwards*, citing ‘declining usage’ as the reason. The post about it, which apparently went up on November 12th, is likely to fuel recent public ire over the fact that Firefox also intends to build the third-party bookmarking facility Pocket into the core code of the browser, so that it can’t be removed.
The Panorama feature, always most commonly referred to as ‘Tab Groups’, was introduced in 2011, and lets users who have a lot of tabs open send any of them into specific virtual neighbourhoods of their own. When consigned to a tab group, a tab is hidden from the user, who can then access the collection of groups and choose the one that they want visually, since each tab group contains thumbnails of the web pages it is holding; tab groups can also be renamed into something meaningful for context (see image left).
Mozilla are considering consolidating existing tab groups – the ones that users such as myself have left undisturbed for years – to background windows:
‘Tab groups you’ve kept in the background will automatically be copied into your Bookmarks folder. We are also still looking at (optionally) restoring those background groups to a separate window. After Panorama is discontinued, access your tab groups using the Bookmarks button, by clicking Bookmarks on the menu bar at the top of your screen, or through your Bookmarks sidebar’
The functionality of Panorama is intended to be replaced with Pocket’s ability to save web-pages for offline viewing, but users have objected to the integration, intended for all versions of Firefox across all platforms, as unnecessary when it could have been implemented as a plug-in/add-on.
Firefox is currently being moved forward by an apparent impetus to match the specifications and style of Google’s Chrome browser, which occupies 65% of the entire browser market versus Firefox’s 20.6%. Firefox usage peaked in May 2009 at 47.7 %, but has since been in consistent decline against Google’s sophisticated fork of the Chromium open source browser.
* At the time of writing, 42 is the latest version