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Show HN: Task-Based Electron Web Browser (simoncaminada.ch)
148 points by ahakki on April 30, 2016 | hide | past | favorite | 29 comments

Clever UI concept. I'd like to have it as a chrome/ff extension, because I don't want to change my browser. Looks nice, though.

Firefox already has the tabgroups feature.

Firefox's tab groups have always been horribly broken. If you have multiple tab groups in a window and you close the last tab in the current group, the entire window closes, losing all of your other tab groups. And since the other than tab groups aren't shown unless you specifically activate the tab group manager, it's very ready to forget about them and close your last tab.

I'm a big user of Firefox's tab groups (typically with 100s of tabs between the groups) and this is definitely not the case. I just tried it out and closing the last tab in the current group will take you back to the group overview screen.

Hmm, I guess I'll have to give it another try.

Edit: I remembered the problem. It's not closing the last tab, it's closing the window that closes all tab groups for that window. More generally, the problem for me is that tab groups are local to a window. In practice this basically means that if you want to use tab groups, you can't also use multiple windows, because managing multiple windows each with multiple tab groups pretty much guarantees that you'll go insane trying to keep track of where everything is and which windows are safe to close.

I think I would much prefer if tab groups were shared across windows, and each window would "claim" a tab group as its own. Closing that window would either close that tab group or even just "detach" from it, leaving the tab group available for another window to claim it. Essentially, it would work sort of like tmux only with windows and tab groups instead of terminals and shells. (Possibly with the limitation that only one window can view a given tab group at once.)

I'd love to use tab groups to organize a large number of tabs, but ultimately, the fact that your tab groups are always a single close button away from being blown away is a deal breaker. (I know I can restore the window to get them back, but that's only if I remember while that closed window is still in the "Recently Closed Windows" menu.)

Another problem with the tab groups in Firefox, is that resizing the window while the tab group expo is open will "rearrange" the tab groups to fit into the window, and won't remember where they were when you resize it back. It's a complete waste of time trying to spatially organize your groups because FireFox knows better.

Hasn't tab groups been removed in the most recent release of firefox?

Yes, but the functionality is still available as an Add-On: https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/tab-groups-removal

From the linked page:

> The Tab Groups (Panorama) feature will be removed from Firefox in version 45. We know this may be inconvenient and we apologize. Removing the Tab Groups feature will make it easier for us to improve Firefox.

This is plain stupid. How much effort could it be to maintain this feature? Compared to Hello, or Rust, or Servo? None of these are useful to most Firefox users, but tab groups were. How more complex is this than the WebMaker or Persona, stuff that practically no-one uses? Is this harder that writing their current homepage, with blocks, pictures and fancy? I'm not touching a Mozilla product again.

As mentioned in the above link you can still use it as an add-on, works just like before: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/tab-groups-pa...

Personally, I love tab groups but I can see most normal users not using it.

It had extremely low usage: https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=1210773#c6

If the exact same functionality is available as an addon, why is this an issue? Persona is being abandoned as well, BTW.

Oh God, why? Well, I use xombrero nowadays so I'd have missed it if such thing happened. It was there five-or-so months ago when I switched. So they put in Hello, Pocket, and whatnot, and remove sth. as relevant and useful as tabgroups? Silly. Didn't know that, sorry.

I miss the old Mozilla, the modern Mozilla seems to have lost its way re: product decisions.

It's a pity, they really were a guiding light of open source.

Really like the concept; I do something similar with a tab groups extension. Would be great if we could store little snippets of text/images within each task, and perhaps sync with a note taking app like Google Keep. What underlying rendering engine do you use?

Is this open sourced?

Really love the UI and simplicity of adding tasks/task groups, but this app is (for some reason) a beast on my battery life. I sent you an email about this as well, but it was using well over what I had anticipated. From the OS X 10.11.4 Activity Monitor:

    Energy Impact: 651.4
    Avg Energy Impact: 24.6
This is compared to Google Chrome, which, with 15 tabs open, has an impact of 11.2. When I looked into it, the energy impact of Alloy is near that one would expect on a stress test (ex: http://www.tekrevue.com/tip/use-activity-monitor-energy-tab-...).

Any ideas what would be causing this much energy consumption?

Interesting, but a full-featured browser (like Chrome) brings a lot more than UI and a renderer to the table. There's other features (security stuff, developer tools, etc.) that it would need.

I don't think the use-case for this is as a web development tool; I see it more as a way of keeping sets of things that have been looked up grouped together. I.e. fixing a bug could be a task and you could have three related stack overflow questions open, researching a new language could be a task with a few different examples open, figuring out what to do for dinner could be a task, with restaurants, recipes, etc. all open in tabs.

I guess, I would use it for anything specifically not requiring security or dev tools.

Security-wise, it's a rather bad idea to build a web browser on top of the Atom Electron framework at the moment [1], at least unless you are willing to fork or contribute patches to Electron each time when a new Chrome version with security fixes is released.

[1] https://github.com/electron/electron/issues/5210

Sounds interesting.

As an aside, I've long thought that having support for tasks as a central feature of the UI at the operating-system level could be a useful design.

I don't know how Electron is engineered other than that it's based on Chromium.

I know that Atom which runs in Electron has access to all your files where as Chromium does not. Does Alloy have the same security as Chromium or is it running on Electron's (I'm a native app so my JavaScript can access your entire system) level of security?

This is exactly how I use Chrome today, using Chrome windows as a tab grouping mechanism ("social", "personal project A", "personal project B", "work", etc.). I prefer your UI much more :)

I would love a fully functioning version of this. However, it didn't load the first web page I tried (www.tradingview.com).

Key feature for me would be the ability to switch/manipulate tasks through the keyboard only. Nice PoC!

The articles talks about "client side tabs". Opera 4-5 (?) implemented tabs based on MDI. That was the gold standard and most versatile tab implementation. You could resize child windows and arrange them so that multiple child windows were visible in the main window while still the tab-bar was useable. (examples: older Opera and older Dreamweaver had MDI and a tab-bar)

Sadly, Microsoft never updated the MDI functionality (eg auto arranging child windows, snapping child windows to a side, icon mode, etc). MDI used to be so great in Win3x and got broken in Win95. The icon mode isn't implemented in Win95 (and later) nor has Microsoft added a native tab-bar based on MDI child windows. On the other side Microsoft Office programs like Word and Excel (at least in v2010) still are MDI based programs which all the legacy downsides that confuse users (who never heard about those partly hidden UI concepts).

very cool...only thing i miss is the predictive search that is in chrome

Very cool. Will try it out.

Very nice idea.

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