Tabbed Browser DNA


A couple of weeks ago I wrote Tabbed Browsing Turns 7, about NetCaptor's 7th birthday, and claimed that "Firefox, Mozilla, Opera, Safari and others can all trace their tabbed browsing DNA back to NetCaptor at some level".

In a comment, an anonymous poster wrote:

A second reason I disagree is that modern tabbed browsers like Firefox, Mozilla, Safari, and Opera based their tabbed browsing systems either directly or indirectly on NetCaptor. I chose the term DNA very carefully. Evolution says that mutations occur, and when those mutations are advantageous, they are adopted widely. Even if GNN did tabs first (which I maintain they didn't) the "tabbed browser" mutation came through NetCaptor.

Multizilla was the first tabbed browser extension for Mozilla, and it copied NetCaptor's menu items  and many features word-for-word. David Hyatt, who implemented tabs in Mozilla, Chimera, and Phoenix and I assume Safari, wrote a little about where the tabs in Mozilla came from back in September 2002:

MultiZilla was cool but at the time suffered from two fundamental flaws that prevented the code from being incorporated into the Mozilla tree. The first was a UI flaw, namely that at the time it had ripped off NetCaptor down to the last context menu item. The GUI was similar enough that there would have been definite concerns about so obviously copying some of NetCaptor's more obscure capabilities (like sticky names and tab locking). The second concern was that the tab behavior wasn't encapsulated cleanly into a widget.

I produced a simplified version of tabbed browsing on my own time (did it in a weekend) that removed some of the geekier NetCaptor features and that encapsulated the tab behavior so that the changes to other Navigator files would be minimal. Once I established that it didn't degrade performance in the single tab case, I checked it in as an experiment.

Alright - gotta get back to work. Just wanted to set the record straight.