Closed Bug 1222550 Opened 9 years ago Closed 9 years ago

Product plan: remove tab groups (panorama)


(Firefox Graveyard :: Panorama, defect)

Not set


(Not tracked)



(Reporter: benjamin, Assigned: kev)


(Keywords: addon-compat)

As part of Firefox great-or-dead we have decided to remove support for tab groups. The feature is not widely used and has significant effects on more important aspects of Firefox development.

This bug tracks a product plan for removing tab groups, including transition for current users.
I just learned about this from the warning in the current Nightly, and as someone who actually uses Panorama and always has a lot of tabs open (305 tabs at the moment), I’m very sad about this announcements. But I understand that it’s a very niche feature and certainly not for everyone (although the way it was, hidden in the background until you discovered it, made it a nice thing that was never disruptive for users that are not interested in it).

Anyway, are there any plans to extract Panorama as an extension, so those power users who actually use it could continue to use it? Is it even possible to implement such a feature with extensions, seeing that the way extensions work is also changing?

If someone would do the initial heavy lifting of extracting it as an extension, I could see myself actively supporting and contributing for its maintenance, so it keeps working with future versions.
(In reply to Patrick Westerhoff from comment #1)
> Anyway, are there any plans to extract Panorama as an extension, so those
> power users who actually use it could continue to use it? Is it even
> possible to implement such a feature with extensions, seeing that the way
> extensions work is also changing?
> If someone would do the initial heavy lifting of extracting it as an
> extension, I could see myself actively supporting and contributing for its
> maintenance, so it keeps working with future versions.

Luís (quicksaver) has mentioned that they're interested in creating an add-on here: bug 1221497 comment 15.
I'll spare everyone a long long long comment about why removing Panorama is evil. Like Patrick, I use this tool extensively (200 tabs opened). What I want to add to the discussion is this:

1. Panorama should be made into an addOn; PaleMoon did it, Mozilla can certainly do it. I will just switch back to PaleMoon if this does not happen, I depend on groups too much to loose this function.

2. I do not want my 200 tabs pushed into the bookmarks menu and removed from the Session store. They have to remain in the store, hidden, so that the upcoming Panorama addOn that you will develop can pick them up and group them.

Mozilla should not be dropping this feature. They should just push it into an addOn, the way they will be pushing Pocket into an addOn. Dropping Panorama completely is just evil.

Keywords: addon-compat
Why not hide this feature behind a flag instead of killing it off?
(In reply to steadystatic from comment #4)
> Why not hide this feature behind a flag instead of killing it off?

Because even code behind a flag has to be maintained. As Benjamin said in the user story, it “has significant effects on more important aspects of Firefox development”. So it’s not removed because it was obstructive to users not using it but because its usage is so rare that maintaining it in the core code base just means too much work.
I would like to echo ravewulf's sentiments -- I use tab groups extensively to manage my tabs according to how I organize my workflow in my mind. It's so nice to have a bunch of tabs open for homework and quickly be able to switch to a different topic (class registration tabs, or maybe some work tabs).

Tab groups are a killer feature for several reasons:

- Useful way of managing tabs en masse. I stress that this is just one reason they are so great, not the only reason. Tree-style tabs are good too, but I never liked the interface as much.
- Tab state is saved for all of the tabs, unlike with bookmarks.
- Unused/unopened groups can stay unloaded (either use an extension to silently unload them over time, or restart the browser).

If you must take them away (read: pry them from my cold, dead hands), I hope the transition is something useful. At first glance it sounds like it would be doable by just opening each group in a separate window, but then for users with 20+ groups of 10 tabs each this could exhaust memory quite hilariously.

An acceptable solution for me would be some sort of "fancy" bookmark system with the additional tab state information. Each fancy-bookmark would refer to the entire tab group, and when selected it will swap out your current group for the selected one. I don't care about transition effects as a text/menu-based solution would be fine for me.
Tab groups is one of the features that set Firefox apart. For me is the #1 reason I use Firefox. It is indispensible for power users and still useful for the rest.

How about spending some effort to actually promote it?

Spinning it off as an officially supported extension would probably be ok. But I'd be wary towards having it as a third party extension, because support for it could be dropped at any time without any timely warning.
I discovered tab groups by accident a long time ago and use it extensively. Please do not kill them.
Maybe the are not 'popular' because you did not give much publicity to them?
(In reply to ravewulf from comment #13)
> Beyond the initial transition,
> how are power users going to be able to manage tabs in the future? It isn't
> just about managing a number of tabs, it's also about being able to separate
> topics and tasks - shopping, research, work stuff, YouTube, various
> categorized fandom groups (meta by topic, fanfiction by
> trope/pairing/author/word count, and fanart). To say the least my browsing
> experience is critically and extensively tied into the ability to group tabs.

This. A hundred times.

If half as much effort for the removal of tab groups was put into actually telling people about it, this ticket wouldn't exist. 

Nice big notices are being plastered in the browser with documentation and they're even thinking of having a guided UI to show people where their tabs have gone. You have got to be kidding me. Just put a notification bar saying "hey, check out this cool feature" and usage would literally skyrocket. You guys are putting so much more effort into the removal of this feature than you ever did in introducing it.
I've been using tab groups panorama since day 1, back when the keyboard shortcut was still ctrl-shift-space. I've showed this feature to a colleague just last month and her jaw dropped: "why did I not know about this?!"

I don't know if my (and other people's) use of Firefox (on Linux) shows up in Telemetry, but I can only add my voice to this bug. As a developer, I know it's bad netiquette to comment without any meaningful content to bring to the table.

All I can say is: I love the feature, I'd be saddened to see it go.

Please at least give a proper easy transition out at least by saving the panorama data to some variable that can be picked up by another extension. Currently the data is hard to extract.
I'm also using Firefox instead of Chrome because of that feature.

Let's hope the add-on works as well as it is now.
No. You. ****. Don't.
Are you complete retards over there!?
Mozilla needs a new CEO, like Linus, who would kick off your butt for rampaging over your own project, killing it and it's user base.
Now I am locking the updates of Firefox, or even thinking of downgrading it.

This is not the Mozilla that was once upon, not any more.
This feature is vital to me. At work it allows me to organise frequently needed information into topics and quickly switch between different kinds of work-tasks. To my knowledge there is currently no add-on that could adequately replace this feature.
IME tab groups are the only way to semi-reliably have FF remember open tabs between sessions. Unless that functionality gets a lot of love and bugs like losing all open tabs when you close all browser windows while having a download window open are fixed, removing tab groups is *not* a good idea.
(In reply to Nicos Gollan from comment #26)
> Unless that functionality gets a lot of love and bugs like
> losing all open tabs when you close all browser windows while having a
> download window open are fixed, removing tab groups is *not* a good idea.

One another very good feature of Panorama is the ability to switch between tabs using only the keyboard : Ctrl + Shift + E, type the correct keyword(s), enter et voilà !
Please do not remove this feature. It is really helpful when switching between different contexts. Moving the functionality to an extension would be acceptable.

If you say that noone uses the feature then this might be because it is not really visible.
For me the only reason, why I still prefer Firefox over Chrome.
Like other power users I use tab groups a lot to group around 300 tabs. Well to be honestly it's the main feature why I still use Firefox and not Chrome. So the conclusion is very simple. Remove this feature and I'll remove Firefox. 

Releasing an Addon would be fine, too. But first release the Addon then remove it of the core!!!!
This product plan is simply ridiculous. Tab groups are a vital part of my work and a tremdendously important feature in Firefox. I use it on a daily basis. This has to stay.
So Firefox is becoming Chrome? We're loosing one-by-one all the features which did make a difference: Powerful plugins (vs. Chrome-like API), full privacy (vs. Ad tiles), ability to sync w/o revealing our passwords to a third party (vs. Firefox Service), now tab groups.

Though I really understand the necessity of trade-offs given by the current browser market situation vs. the funding of Mozilla, I'm not very happy with the direction. Fully going mainstream will not make Firefox more successfully. 

Again sad to see the removal of another, unique Firefox feature.
I can only second the posters before me. Tab groups are my everyday workbase and a major reason why FF is my main browser.
It is really sad to see such a feature go, especially in the light of the fact that numerous totally useless features have been added in the recent past (Hello, Pocket, etc).

I really have to blame those UI gals and guys, who made the tab groups one of the best hidden features of FF. I'm totally certain that a promenent showcase, like done with many other features, would have given this feature a real boost.

For the sake of completeness, I would like to know more about the technical reasons, why this feature is considered such a burden, but I fail to find qualitative according resources. If anyone could post a link, telling the whole story, that would be nice.
I'm sorry to not really contribute on the topic, but this comment from a German IT news site made my day as part of my working through the mourning process ;-)

> The rendering of web pages ....
> ... is probably soon no longer part of the core functions of Firefox. 
> We should remove these functions, too. Just as a precaution.
> Instead, Firefox is still lacking an integrated payment system, a separate 
> (App) store and functions for the evaluation of health data. Also the direct
> booking of hotels and flights directly from the browser would be great and 
> should be fixed to a specific provider for making it easier for everyone.
I really need the tab groups. It's important to separate different work packages / projects and helps to keep the overview.
I really feel frustrated. Tab groups aka Panorama is the last feature which keeps me staying with FF.
I am using Mozilla since beginning, just forked from Netscape very long time ago.
But now, what the hell shall i do with some bloody **** things as Hello and Pocket.
Instead of concentrating what is really used and not putting useful features in background some **** features are developed only with purpose to support some cloud services.
Hey, therefore everyone can use this Google **** named Chrome!

The same day this feature is dropped all my FF installations are dropped too!

with no regards
Do not mess with that tab groups. This is one of the last things which makes FF better than Chrome. Stop wasting your time to implement useless stuff like that "Hello" or "Pocket". Stop annoying AddOn developers by removing the API. Why dismissing XUL? Just because it's old. Listen to your users, otherwise FF will meet the fate of IE. Time to say goodbye!
Please don't remove the tab groups. 
This is THE feature and the main almost the only reason why I'm still using FF. This makes him outstanding. Keep it!!! 
If not the Vivaldi Browser as implement parts of this feature, he still in beta. In case of, this will be an alternative.

But, just keep it! Please!
Thanks in advance!
Are you serious? This is one of the important features that keeps me from using another browser. If this feature will be removed, I will have to change to another browser or never update my current version of FF.
How about removing some of the useless features like "Hello"? :-)
If you are going to remove it, please add a way to export them first so can they be easily imported from an add-on or browsers. Like a bookmark group called Panorama-is-Dead or something.
Please dont remove this useful feature or put in in an addon!
At this moment I count 573 tabs open organized in 7 groups in my firefox and browsing does not feel slowly. Tabgroups are one of the most important reasons to use FF furthermore and intensively - and I'm user since those old netscape days.
I want to surf with a free, secure and configurable browser, made from people, who listen to their customers and followers!
Some notes:

- when we remove panorama, we will be:
 -- linking to a SUMO page that will have suggestions about how to work with Firefox without panorama, including links to add-ons that are already in development/review (cf. and )
 -- saving all your groups as bookmarks
 -- offering you the possibility to restore hidden groups into separate windows similar to what about:sessionrestore lets you do after a crash
 -- make a full backup of your session JSON to the desktop

- as for "the usage is because you didn't promote it" - that is probably not unrelated. But the reason it is so hidden / unpromoted is not our love of easter eggs, but the fact that the feature has serious issues, and that we haven't invested in it for years. The data model is horrible, the UI is incompatible with many usecases, the internals break easily when confronted with things like e10s, which is holding up development and complicating us landing other patches which are important for core functionality in Firefox (like rendering web pages).

- "this product plan is rubbish" -- there is no finalized product plan yet. This bug is about creating such a plan.

- "stop doing things like Hello and Pocket and <name other feature commenter doesn't like>" -- not every feature will appeal to every person. That's fine. Pocket and Hello aren't actively breaking e10s work, or cluttering up people's session restore files, nor are they completely unmaintained. The equation isn't *only* about "kill everything that has no users".

I'm going to restrict comments here because all the arguments I've seen are being repeated ad nauseam, people are willfully ignoring part of the original description of the bug as well as earlier comments pointing to the relevant add-ons, and the tone has taken a nosedive. If you feel you have constructive suggestions to offer for how to plan the remainder of what needs to be done here, post to firefox-dev ( ).
Restrict Comments: true
Actually, the product planning this bug was meant to cover already happened in the discussions leading up to, and part of, the migration/removal in bug 1221050 and bug 1222490. There were discussions with the relevant product / UX folk, we looked at the metrics to confirm low usage, came up with an acceptable plan to migrate affected users, and a SUMO page to help explain things. So this bug was really superfluous.
Closed: 9 years ago
Resolution: --- → FIXED
Blocks: 1232178
There is a warning about the feature removal in 44, but what is the plan for esr38, which will be updated to esr45?
see comment 44.
Flags: needinfo?(dolske)
ESR is string-frozen, so we didn't consider uplifting the deprecation notice. Given we were jsut being extra cautions, that Panorama has such low usage, and that ESR is commonly used in managed environments, I don't think it's worth an uplift.
Flags: needinfo?(dolske)
Product: Firefox → Firefox Graveyard
No longer blocks: 1232178
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