Tabs disappear in core Gnome applications

Bug #30749 reported by Kristoffer Lundén
This bug affects 1 person
Affects Status Importance Assigned to Milestone
gtk+2.0 (Ubuntu)
Ubuntu Desktop Bugs

Bug Description

When opening more than a few tabs in Gnome applications like Gedit, Epiphany etc, earlier tabs suddenly disappear with no warning and almost without trace. All that is seen are two tiny arrows beside the tabs which allows the user to scroll the tab list to reach the other tabs.

When this happens the first few times it's a very confusing, and also scary and upsetting experience - "where did my important tab go?" "Did I save?" "Please, please, please be in my history".

After finding out what actually happens, and at least understanding it, it is just incredibly annoying and unusable. The huge advantages that tabs offer are totally lost: instant overview and one-click access. Without those, might as well use separate windows like Internet Explorer or Notepad, although they only get as inaccessible after their windows have grouped on the task list.

Almost all other tabbed systems shrink their tabs when needing to, and it works great for them. A few expand into multiple rows instead.

I thought long and hard before filing this bug, because this is a sensitive question apparently - common opinion is that this is a 50/50-issue, some love this, others hate it. Personally I've mostly seen hate, and I deeply, strongly feel that this must be addressed one way or the other, so here goes.

Summary on current behaviour:

* It is scary, surprising and confusing
* It takes away the instant overview of tabs
* It takes away the instant access of tabs

I suggest that:

* GtkNotebook gets another mode of operation, where tabs shrink instead of disappear when space becomes scarce.
* If use open an incredible amount of tabs, it's ok to disappear them though, we can't do magic and there's just so many pixels.
* Old mode of operation is also kept, and a global preference for the whole Gnome desktop switches all GtkNotebooks to either behaviour for all using applications.
* Default is changed to Resize, because:
  - That is what any tab savvy user is used to
  - That doesn't scare by making things disappear suddenly
  - It's better usability with instant overview and access
* Nice to have: multiple row tabs as third option.

So, you heard me right. I propose to add extra options to Gnome. =) I think it's warranted though. If it's such a 50/50 issue, there can hardly be a good default. The current behaviour is scary and unintiuitive, but have a loyal following. Those should be able to retain their experience, just like there is spatial and non-spatial Nautilus.

For a more humorous rant on this frustration, I wrote this post a little while back: =)

Revision history for this message
earobinson (earobinson) wrote :

It would be nice if this was an setting that the user could set.

Revision history for this message
Daniel Holbach (dholbach) wrote :

Thanks for your bug report and the explanations. I forwarded the bug to the upstream bug tracker as:

Changed in gtk+2.0:
status: Unconfirmed → Confirmed
Revision history for this message
Daniel Holbach (dholbach) wrote : has a long discussion of multiple rows of tabs. The upstream developers suggest to make appropriate changes in the applications themselves (as gnome-terminal does).

The decision is yours, either you follow up on the upstream bugs and make your point clear in a discussion (if you feel that's the right way), or you file bugs (upstream) on the applications, where you see the problems.

Revision history for this message
Kristoffer Lundén (kristoffer-lunden) wrote :

Thanks. Yeah, it's not the only thread on the subject either, but note that it doesn't reach a conclusion either. =)

I'm gonna try and make my point a little more at least, because the whole point of filing this bug was *not* to do small fixes here and there but rather try a cure-all if possible (see new comment over there).

Revision history for this message
Bruce Cowan (bruce89-deactivatedaccount) wrote :

What I think is that clicking on the arrows should scroll all the tabs along, instead of switching to the next and previous tabs. See GNOME bug #377441.

Changed in gtk+2.0:
assignee: nobody → desktop-bugs
status: Confirmed → Triaged
Changed in gtk:
status: New → Confirmed
Changed in gtk:
importance: Unknown → Low
Changed in gtk:
status: Confirmed → Incomplete
Changed in gtk:
status: Incomplete → Confirmed
Changed in gtk:
status: Confirmed → Expired
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