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In interface design, a tabbed document interface (TDI) or Tab is a graphical control element that allows multiple documents or panels to be contained within a single window, using tabs as a navigational widget for switching between sets of documents. It is an interface style most commonly associated with web browsers, web applications, text editors, and preference panes, with window managers, especially tiling window managers, being lesser known examples.
GUI tabs are modeled after traditional card tabs inserted in paper files or card indexes (in keeping with the desktop metaphor).
The WordVision DOS word processorfor the IBM PC in 1982 was perhaps the first commercially available product with a tabbed interface. PC Magazine later wrote that it "has served as a free R&D department for the software business—its bones picked over for a decade by programmers looking for so-called new ideas".
Don Hopkins developed and released several versions of tabbed window frames for the NeWS window system as free software, which the window manager applied to all NeWS applications, and enabled users to drag the tabs around to any edge of the window.
The NeWS version of UniPress's Gosling Emacs text editor was another early product with multiple tabbed windows in 1988.It was used to develop an authoring tool for Ben Shneiderman's hypermedia browser HyperTIES (the NeWS workstation version of The Interactive Encyclopedia System), in 1988 at the University of Maryland Human-Computer Interaction Lab. HyperTIES also supported pie menus for managing windows and browsing hypermedia documents with PostScript applets.
While Boeing Calc already utilized tabbed sheets (as so called wordpads) since at least 1987, In 1994, BookLink Technologies featured tabbed windows in its InternetWorks browser. That same year, the text editor UltraEdit also appeared with a modern multi-row tabbed interface. The tabbed interface approach was then followed by the Internet Explorer shell NetCaptor in 1997. These were followed by a number of others like IBrowse in 1999, and Opera in 2000 (with the release of version 4 - although a MDI interface was supported before then), MultiViews October 2000, which changed its name into MultiZilla on 1 April 2001 (an extension for the Mozilla Application Suite ), Galeon in early 2001, Mozilla 0.9.5 in October 2001, Phoenix 0.1 (now Mozilla Firefox) in October 2002, Konqueror 3.1 in January 2003, and Safari in 2003. With the release of Internet Explorer 7 in 2006, all major web browsers featured a tabbed interface.Borland's Quattro Pro popularized tabs for spreadsheets in 1992. Microsoft Word in 1993 used them to simplify submenus.
Users have quickly adopted the use of tabs in web browsing and web search. A study of tabbed browsing behavior in June 2009 found that users switched tabs in 57% of tab sessions, and 36% of users used new tabs to open search engine results at least once during that period.
Numerous special functions in association with browser tabs have emerged since then. One example is visual tabbed browsing in OmniWeb version 5, which displays preview images of pages in a drawer to the left or right of the main browser window. Another feature is the ability to re-order tabs and to bookmark all of the webpages opened in tab panes in a given window in a group or bookmark folder (as well as the ability to reopen all of them at the same time). Links can most often be opened in several modes, using different user interface options and commands:
There are minor usability issues such as whether a new tab opens in the end of the tab list or next to its "parent". For example, Internet Explorer marks tab families with different colours.
In 2021, researchers published the first in-depth study of Web browser tab interfaces in over a decade. They found that many people struggle with tab overload and conducted surveys and interviews about people's tab use. Thereby they formalized pressures for closing tabs and for keeping tabs open. The authors then developed related UI design considerations which could enable better tools and changes to the code of Web browsers – like Firefox – that allow knowledge workers and other users to better manage – and make use of – their browser tabs.
The name TDI implies similarity to the Microsoft Windows standards for multiple document interfaces (MDI) and single document interfaces (SDI), but TDI does not form part of the Microsoft Windows User Interface Guidelines.There is some debate about how the TDI fits in with the Microsoft Windows User Interface Guidelines. In many ways the Workbook window management model most closely resembles TDI. However this is a relatively recent addition to the Windows User Interface Guidelines, and most developers still prefer to view SDI or MDI as the primary document models for MS Windows.
Because the tabbed document interface holds many different documents logically under one window, it keeps the primary operating system interface free of the clutter that would be created by a large number of small child windows. Another advantage is that sets of related documents can be grouped within each of several windows. Tabbed web browsers often allow users to save their browsing session and return to it later.
Although the tabbed document interface does allow for multiple views under one window, there are problems with this interface. One such problem is dealing with many tabs at once. When a window is tabbed to a certain number that exceeds the available display area, the tabs clutter up (this is the same problem as with SDI but moved to another place in the user interface).
Multi-row tabs are a second issue that will appear in menu dialogs in some programs. Some prefer to have many tabs open, and some programs help making these compact yet identifiable,while normally dealing with multiple rows of tabs in one window is seen to have two disadvantages:
Finding a specific tab in a 3 or 4 level tabular interface can be difficult for some people. Part of the issue with this difficulty lies in the lack of any sorting scheme. Without such tabs can be strewn about without any sense of order, thus looking for a tab provides no meaningful understanding of a position to a tab relative to other tabs. Additionally, the clutter created by multiple tabs can create a dialog that is unusually small, with the tabs above it dominating the window.
Thus, although tabbed windows are adequate in environments where there is a minimal necessity for tabs (around ten tabs or less), this scheme does not scale, and alternate methods may be required to address this issue.
Among the methods for addressing the problems of the scalability of many tabs:
Large numbers of tabbed windows scale better with the tabs along the left or right edges of the window, instead of the top or bottom edges. That is because tab labels are usually much wider than they are tall, and because it is now common to use displays which are considerably wider than needed for displaying documents and web pages. The NeWS version of the UniPress Emacs text editor placed tabs along the right window edge, and laid windows out in a vertical column, so each tab was initially visible, and the user could use them to raise and lower the windows, drag them around in the column, or pull them out to anywhere on the screen.
Tabbed window interfaces can give the user the freedom to position the tabs along any edge, so all four edges are available to organize different groups of tabs as the user or application sees fit. The PSIBER visual PostScript programming environment for NeWS had tabbed views that the user could stick onto the stack (represented as a "spike"), and the user could move the tabs to any edge.The NeWS pie menu and tab window manager enabled users to position the tabs anywhere along any edge, and the tabs popped up pie menus with window management functions, to uncover and bury windows, etc.
For people used to SDI, MDI can be confusing as windows can be hidden behind other windows.[ citation needed ] Some MDI applications lack a taskbar or menu to allow quick access to all windows, so for these applications in some cases a window can only be found by closing or moving all others. Practically, however, most MDI environments provide for much richer window-switching functionality than SDI-oriented environments. On the other hand, since in TDI applications most tabs are visible and directly accessible, it is much harder for windows to get "lost". Some MDI applications such as Opera and Eudora also have this advantage, by having tabs to access the windows.
TDI windows must always be maximized inside their parent window, and as a result two tabs cannot be visible at the same time. This makes comparing of documents or easy copy-and-pasting between two documents more difficult. Full MDI interfaces allow for tiling or cascading of child windows, and do not suffer from these limitations.
One example of an application that allows either TDI or MDI browsing is Opera. Using TDI by default, this application also supports full MDI and can also run as an SDI application.
In order to mitigate these problems, some integrated development environments, such as recent versions of XEmacs and Microsoft's Visual Studio, provide a hybrid interface which allows splitting the parent window into multiple MDI-like "panes," each with their own separate TDI tab set. Tiling window managers such as Ion do the same for the entire desktop. This provides many of the advantages of both MDI and TDI, although it can still be difficult for users to get used to. The Konqueror browser by KDE (available on Unix and Unix work-alikes, such as Linux, and Windows) supports multiple documents within one tab by splitting documents. In a Konqueror tab, documents can be split horizontally or vertically, and each split document can be re-split.
Another strategy for dealing with the limitation that only one tabbed document would ordinarily be visible at one time is to allow a tab to be dragged outside the parent window and converted to a separate window (which can itself have multiple tabs). This is supported in the Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox 3.5, and Internet Explorer 9 web browsers, for example.
The following window managers provide a tabbed document interface:
Adobe Systems holds patents in the United States and Europe on certain uses of GUI tabs, [ citation needed ]which are widely held to be trivial patents. There was prior art, in both GUI and text user interfaces (TUI).
Adobe used these patents to sue Macromedia Inc. for employing tabs in its Macromedia Flash product. Adobe won the case and $2.8 million in damages. However, Macromedia initiated a countersuit which ended in a $4.9 million ruling against Adobe. The suits were settled on undisclosed terms.In 2005, Adobe ended further dispute between the two companies when it bought Macromedia for roughly $3.4 billion.
On April 18, 2007, the intellectual property agency IP Innovation LLC and its parent Technology Licensing Corporation filed a lawsuit against Apple Inc. regarding its infringement upon a US Patent originally filed by Xerox researchers in 1987.
Konqueror is a free and open-source web browser and file manager that provides web access and file-viewer functionality for file systems. It forms a core part of the KDE Software Compilation. Developed by volunteers, Konqueror can run on most Unix-like operating systems. The KDE community licenses and distributes Konqueror under GNU GPL-2.0-or-later.
K-Meleon is an open-source web browser for Microsoft Windows. Originally based on the same Gecko layout engine as Mozilla Firefox and SeaMonkey, K-Meleon's design goal is to provide a fast and reliable web browser while providing a highly customizable interface and using system resources efficiently. Beginning with K-Meleon 76.2G, builds of the browser have utilized the Goanna layout engine instead of the Gecko engine. The browser is released under the GNU General Public License.
A multiple-document interface (MDI) is a graphical user interface in which multiple windows reside under a single parent window. Such systems often allow child windows to embed other windows inside them as well, creating complex nested hierarchies. This contrasts with single-document interfaces (SDI) where all windows are independent of each other.
A web browser is application software for accessing the World Wide Web. When a user requests a web page from a particular website, the web browser retrieves the necessary content from a web server and then displays the page on the user's device.
ChatZilla was an IRC client for Mozilla-based browsers such as Firefox, introduced in 2000. It is cross-platform open source software which has been noted for its consistent appearance across platforms, CSS appearance customization and scripting.
XUL, which stands for XML User Interface Language, is a user interface markup language developed by Mozilla. XUL is an XML dialect for writing graphical user interfaces, enabling developers to write user interface elements in a manner similar to web pages.
In computing, a window is a graphical control element. It consists of a visual area containing some of the graphical user interface of the program it belongs to and is framed by a window decoration. It usually has a rectangular shape that can overlap with the area of other windows. It displays the output of and may allow input to one or more processes.
GNOME Web is a free and open-source web browser based on the GTK port of Apple's WebKit rendering engine, called WebKitGTK. It is developed by the GNOME project for Unix-like systems. It is the default and official web browser of GNOME, and part of the GNOME Core Applications.
Avant Browser is a freeware web browser from a Chinese programmer named Anderson Che, which unites the Trident layout engine built into Windows with an interface intended to be more feature-rich, flexible and ergonomic than Microsoft's Internet Explorer (IE). It runs on Windows 2000 and above, including Windows 8, Windows 8.1 and Windows 10. Internet Explorer versions 6 through 11 are supported.
A favicon, also known as a shortcut icon, website icon, tab icon, URL icon, or bookmark icon, is a file containing one or more small icons, associated with a particular website or web page. A web designer can create such an icon and upload it to a website by several means, and graphical web browsers will then make use of it. Browsers that provide favicon support typically display a page's favicon in the browser's address bar and next to the page's name in a list of bookmarks. Browsers that support a tabbed document interface typically show a page's favicon next to the page's title on the tab, and site-specific browsers use the favicon as a desktop icon.
Netscape Browser is the eighth major release of the Netscape series of web browsers, now all discontinued. It was published by AOL, but developed by Mercurial Communications, and originally released for Windows on May 19, 2005.
Mozilla Firefox has features that allow it to be distinguished from other web browsers, such as Chrome and Internet Explorer.
Netscape Plugin Application Programming Interface (NPAPI) is an application programming interface (API) that allows browser plugins to be developed. It was first developed for Netscape browsers, starting in 1995 with Netscape Navigator 2.0, but was subsequently adopted by other browsers. With the advent of HTML5, all major web browsers have removed support for 3rd party NPAPI plugins for security reasons. There are some smaller browsers such as Pale Moon and Waterfox Classic that retain support for NPAPI plugins.
In computing, a keyboard shortcut is a sequence or combination of keystrokes on a computer keyboard which invokes commands in software.
A local shared object (LSO), commonly called a Flash cookie, is a piece of data that websites that use Adobe Flash may store on a user's computer. Local shared objects have been used by all versions of Flash Player since version 6.
Mozilla Firefox 3.0 is a version of the Firefox web browser released on June 17, 2008, by the Mozilla Corporation.
Mozilla Firefox 4 is a version of the Firefox web browser, released on March 22, 2011. The first beta was made available on July 6, 2010; Release Candidate 2 was released on March 18, 2011. It was codenamed Tumucumaque, and was Firefox's last large release cycle. The Mozilla team planned smaller and quicker releases following other browser vendors. The primary goals for this version included improvements in performance, standards support, and user interface.
Preview is a computing function to display a document, page, or film before it is produced in its final form. In the case of printed material this is known as "print preview".
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