The last time I blogged about Firefox's "Open in Tabs" behavior was 3 years ago in September 2004. Open in Tabs is quite a cool bookmark feature where you can open a folder of bookmarks.

Unfortunately, some of us felt that there it had a flawed implementation. Here's how you can see it for yourself:

Here, try this in a new Firefox window. Open up 4 tabs. Make sure that there’s nothing in these tabs that you want to remember to come back to later, especially the last 2. Now try using "Open in Tabs" on a bookmark folder with just 2 bookmarks. What just happened? Firefox has closed the last 2 tabs and loaded the first 2 tabs with the first 2 bookmarks. Well, actually this is not so bad for the first 2 tabs, because you can use the "Back" button to go back to your page should you want to, but the tabs that were closed are lost.

It was then rather unfortunate that this bug was closed as WONTFIX. I was thus surprised to see a patch for a similar bug land in the Firefox 3 trunk about a week ago (I haven't had time to blog about it until now!)

This change in Firefox 3 means that "Open in Tabs" is no longer a destructive proposition - a "use existing tabs and append" strategy is employed.

Here's how it looks like graphically (which I expect would be easier to understand compared to aforementioned "use existing tabs and append" strategy). Let's start with 4 tabs, with the Google, Ruby on Rails, Facebook and jQuery websites loaded:

Open in tabs, initial

I have a bookmark folder with 2 bookmarks (to the Firebug and Prototype websites) in them:

Open in tabs, bookmark folder

If I click on "Open in Tabs" in Firefox 3, I end up with this:

Open in tabs, initial

Notice how the Back button is enabled on the Firebug tab (allowing us to go back to the Google webpage), and the Prototype bookmark is loaded in a new tab after the Firebug one.

Small little tweak you may say, but it's all these small usability tweaks (like the recent Password Manager improvement) that promise to make Firefox 3 a much better browser.