My firefox installation just upgraded to version three-d-somethingoranother which means that right-click-open-in-new-tab no longer opens the link in a new tab at the far right, but rather, next to the tab in which I’m clicking. You have no idea how utterly stupid this change is. I’ll tell you why.

For me, this totally affects my work flow. It is very very common for me to open a series of tabs in a certain order, with the order being part of the information I’m using to write something. Call it “outlining with links” if you will. That may seem strange, but let me explaining it this way: What Firefox has done is the equivalent of a text processor which randomizes the order of the letters in words I’ve typed.

(A very simple example of this is composing a web carnival.)

See, the thing is, it isn’t just that Firefox opens the new tab next to the one you are in when you click the link. No. That would just make everything backwards and I can live with that. Rather, it opens the first tab next to the tab you’re in, then any subsequent tabs you click on get opened to the right of that just-opened tab. For several tabs until maybe you go away and come back and Firefox figures it can start loading them next to your active tab again.

Technically, that is not random, but it may as well be.

The reason this is the stupidest thing that I’ve seen since, well, for several hours now is this: The very opening of tabs, let along the way they open, has probably become part of the work flow for a lot of users. A change in basic functionality like this is simply wrong. You don’t change basic functionality in such an arbitrary fashion. Ever.

There was a correct way to do this, which is so obvious that it makes me think that the people who run Firefox are on some very heavy drugs. This is the way: Yes, having tabs open right next to the one you are clicking in is a good idea for some people, and should be an option. So add it as an option. Do not eliminate the old behavior and replace it with the new behavior because some shit-ass techieboy who got stoned on silicon in the valley decided s/he wanted it that way. No. You make it as an option and tell people about it and if they want it they can chose it. Once it has been an option for, like, ever (18 months, say) you can consider making the new fangled way the default. But you don’t throw out the old way and replace it with this new way. Sorry. No.

For those of you who are annoyed by this behavior, click here and install this thingy that will make it go away. You should not have to do this. For all we know, this Firefox add in is a virus that will take over the world or something. In any event, even if it works great (and so far it does for me), it is fix to a problem that exists only because the development crew at Firefox had a bad batch of martinis and their hangover really sucked. Screw them.

Comments

  1. #1 Alan B
    May 17, 2010

    You’re right about screwing with the default being a bad thing, but I just found this post funny because I have had an extension installed for years that ENABLES the exact behavior you’re describing. The ideal tab positioning for me would be a sort of 2D tree display, but I haven’t seen a good (compact but usable) way to put all that into the browser window. Positioning them entirely sequentially is the opposite extreme, and “open next to current” is kind of a compromise between the two extremes – though I have to store the tree structure in my head.

  2. #2 JakeLsewhere
    May 17, 2010

    You don’t need to install any third party add-ons to restore the old functionality, this can be toggled from about:config.

    From Firefox Facts:

    Make New Tab Pages Open in the Far Right of the Tab Bar

    * Type about:config in the address bar. Then, if needed click the “I’ll be careful, I promise!” button.
    * Next, in the filter box – type in: tabs.insertRelatedAfterCurrent
    * Right-click that about:config entry, and select “Toggle”

    This will convert Firefox back to loading opening a new tab from a web page on the far right of the tab bar, rather than right next to the tab you opened it from.

    To switch back, follow these same steps and toggle the “false” back to “true”.

  3. #3 Jeff
    May 17, 2010

    It *is* an option and the old way is still there. You don’t even need an addon to go back to the old way. Just set “browser.tabs.insertRelatedAfterCurrent” to false in about:config. Took me about 10 seconds to find.

    This change brought Firefox in line with the way all the other browsers, even other Mozilla-based ones, do it. That way people coming from other browsers don’t feel lost getting started with Firefox. It’s probably also the Right Way to do it anyway, and you don’t like it (as I didn’t at first) simply because it’s different.

  4. #4 regis
    May 17, 2010

    I’ve been using the mouse gestures extension for years. Middle click and a new tab opens.

  5. #5 grasshopper
    May 17, 2010

    “It *is* an option…”

    Sooo, there IS a menu option that says “do you want to set
    “browser.tabs.insertRelatedAfterCurrent” to false?”

  6. #6 Nemo
    May 17, 2010

    regis, middle-click to open a new tab is standard, not part of the mouse gestures extension.

  7. #7 Tony P
    May 17, 2010

    I like how Firefox 3.6.3 keeps related tabs together. I guess this feature works for some, not for others.

  8. #8 Greg Laden
    May 17, 2010

    Jake and Jeff: You don’t need to install any third party add-ons to restore the old functionality, this can be toggled from about:config.

    Thanks! I figured there was a toggle, but when I googled the problem the extension came up first.

    grasshopper:No, there is not. You are right, it is not an option. You need to mess with the guts, but that’s not hard.

    Nemo: I now use the middle button, as of one second ago.

  9. #9 Stephanie Z
    May 17, 2010

    No, it’s not hard. It’s either trivial or impossible, depending on what kind of user you are. For a very large majority of users (and I’m not one of them), about:config does not and will not ever exist. If it isn’t on a menu, it doesn’t happen.

  10. #10 Paul Schofield
    May 17, 2010

    Alan B;
    I use tabkit and vertical tabs to get an effect similar to the one you are talking about. Basically, child tabs are opened below the parent, indented to distinguish from siblings. Each family (or tree) is coloured differently from those adjacent. Each family can also be collapsed to only show the last viewed with a quick double click. You can even drag other tabs into an existent family. Pretty much everything can be customised.

    If you have the tabs full size it eats screen real estate, but I use faviconize tab set to reduce all tabs to favicons by default, and tabscope for mouseover previews. Those three let you have a narrow strip of tabs down the side of the screen that, frankly, makes more sense than giving up vertical space if you have a wide-screen monitor. I’ve got a quick mouse gesture also set to hide the tab bar if I need even that space back, but rarely have to use it these days. Most sites have horizontal space to spare.

  11. #11 chezjake
    May 17, 2010

    I can accommodate to the new tab opening scheme, even though I’m not happy with it. What’s really annoying is that when you close one of those new tabs, it shifts focus not to the tab you opened it from, but to the tab to the right of the one you opened it from — absolutely useless and very annoying.

  12. #12 Ken
    May 17, 2010

    Don’t get me started!

    I’m still pissed off that Emacs isn’t the default editor in Windows and that slash commands don’t work in Excel anymore!

  13. #13 Art
    May 17, 2010

    I don’t think this is a default versus non-default setting imposed by the update. The behavior seems more like a failure in the recognition and implementation of the existing setting at installation.

    Last I updated most of my settings got transferred correctly, but not all. And this open tab location issue was one I had to correct manually.

    Long ago I installed Configuration Mania as an add-on. The correction was easy simply unchecking the box ‘open tab beside existing tab’, or similar, within the “tab browsing” group.

    IMHO, Configuration Mania is easier than messing with about:config.

    About:config is good but it requires a much greater attention to terminology, that you carefully scan down to the correct line (which is seemingly always near lines that sound similar but control entirely different things), and it is entirely possible to bork things royally if your careless. And finding that line again to correct your mistake was a PITA last time I did it. That and there is that warning when you open up About:config that tends to make some people blanch.

    Menus in Configuration Mania are fairly comprehensive and making the changes, and recovering from a poor choice, is quick and easy. Of course CM has to be updated to handle the changes in Foxfire but so far, several years and two of three updated there has been no problems.

  14. #14 Tizzle
    May 17, 2010

    Thanks! Now I have tabs opening the way I’m accustomed and I learned of the existence of about:config, which I might use cautiously in the future.

  15. #15 Greg Laden
    May 17, 2010

    Ken: Are you serious? I’m very glad I stopped using Excel a long time ago!

  16. #16 itzac
    May 17, 2010

    I got used to the change, and I’ve actually found it integrates pretty well with the mouse rocker gestures in firegestures.

    The closing behaviour is a little maddening, though. If it can’t bring me back to the originating tab, it should at least go to the left instead of the right. After all, since it opens the new tab to the right of the current one, wouldn’t the tab to the left of the one being closed be astronomically more likely to be more relevant?

  17. #17 Greg Laden
    May 17, 2010

    Art: I don’t think this is a default versus non-default setting imposed by the update. The behavior seems more like a failure in the recognition and implementation of the existing setting at installation.

    Last I updated most of my settings got transferred correctly, but not all. And this open tab location issue was one I had to correct manually.

    No, it’s the new default, I’m certain. For one thing, this is my first installation of this version of Firefox. Second, the prior behavior was never “set” by me, just defaulted. Third, this insall of Firefox went into a brand new clean install of Linux, on a blank hard drive.

    Finally, the plugin that I mention above indicates that this is the new default.

    I’m going to have to check out this Configuration Mania beast you mention.

  18. #18 Bill James
    May 17, 2010

    Also, some Firefox defaults differ between Windows and Linux versions. Possibly Mac as well but others will have to comment on that one.

  19. #19 Ken
    May 17, 2010

    Ken: Are you serious? I’m very glad I stopped using Excel a long time ago!

    Sorry, forgot to use the sarcasm markups.

    Still, it’s amazing how many “hind-brain” commands try to come out all the time when using modern software. Every so often I try to use a Norton Commander keyboard shortcut while using Windows Explorer.

    And, amazingly, I still catch myself hitting the “/” key when in Excel sometimes. Maybe that’s because Microsoft supported those Lotus slash commands for so many years. I think they did that to apologize for the “DOS isn’t done ’till Lotus won’t run” days.

  20. #20 Greg Laden
    May 17, 2010

    Ken: I use a combination of console or console-like software and the usual stuff, and when I’m tired I sometimes try to do unnatural things.

  21. #21 IanW
    May 17, 2010

    Greg hasn’t figured out yet that you can drag the tabs and position them wherever you want….

  22. #22 Greg Laden
    May 17, 2010

    Ian, WTFM? I’m totally aware of that. I do that when needed. But with the old firefox configuration, as I explained in the OP, I didn’t have to do that. With the new default, I have to …. oh never mind, if you don’t get it now you may never get it at all.

  23. #23 Art
    May 17, 2010

    [i]Greg hasn’t figured out yet that you can drag the tabs and position them wherever you want….[/i]

    I didn’t know you could do that. Cool.

    That is good to know but it doesn’t correct the problem. It allows him to correct the order of tabs but avoiding the problem, having the setting new tabs open on the far right in the first place, is far better.

  24. #24 Peter Chatterton
    May 18, 2010

    I’m using the latest Firefox but tabs.insertRelatedAfterCurrent doesn’t seem to work the way everyone says it does — its value is TRUE but new tabs always go at the end.

    Peter

  25. #25 rpsms
    May 18, 2010

    related:

    set:
    browser.search.openintab

    to have the search gadget open results in a new tab, rather than in the current one.

  26. #26 LightningRose
    May 18, 2010

    Another Firefox Tab Tip:

    As of at least v3.5.something, you can arrange tabs by left clicking the tab and dragging it to where you want.

  27. #27 travc
    May 18, 2010

    Firefox is copying Chrome on this. I honestly haven’t paid enough attention to be sure, but it seems that Chrome internally keeps a tree of “child tabs”. Closing should bounce you one level up, but probably doesn’t (which is just wrong IMO).

    Anyways, after realizing what it is doing, adjusting isn’t difficult.

    PS: about:config is not really the “guts”. It isn’t well enough advertised (made obvious by the button/menu interface) in Firefox though.

  28. #28 Anonymous
    May 18, 2010

    update:
    I’m using Firefox 3.6.3 (Yahoo!) on XP SP 3 but altho tabs.insertRelatedAfterCurrent is TRUE, new tabs created with ctrl-T always go at the
    end. I have the Multiple Tab Handler extension v. 0.5.2010043001 installed but disabled.

    What should I do next to get tabs NOT going to the end of the line where I can’t see them?

    Thanks,
    Peter

  29. #29 uqbar
    May 18, 2010

    Get Tab Mix Plus (https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/1122/) – you can configure the tab behavior in may useful ways. Based on the way you say you use tabs, I think you will like this.

  30. #30 Peter Chatterton
    May 19, 2010

    Thanks uqbar, it looks okay.

    Strangely, the ‘Add-ons for Firefox’ page still has an ‘Add to FF’ big green button right above the blue Contribute one.

    Peter

  31. #31 Greg Laden
    May 19, 2010

    I may try that.

  32. I prefer to hold related tabs together. But I understand that someone does not like it. Individual habits :)

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