beta version of the Opera 11 browser just launched this morning with a notable new feature: tab stacking. Traditionally, tabs were opened side-by-side, says the company, now Opera users can stack tabs on top of each other instead.The
The result isn't as messy as it may sound - in fact, it could become a must-have for tabaholics who typically keep a dozen or more tabs open at any time. But is it useful enough to get you to switch?
Tab Stacking: Great News for Tabaholics
To stack tabs in the new Opera 11 beta, you simply drag and drop. Tabs can be stacked any way you like - by site, by group, by theme, by favorites, etc. Then, when you hover your mouse over a tab, the stack expands in a visual preview. You can then click an arrow icon to expand the stack across the tab bar.
Here's a video demonstrating the feature in action (at the 0:50 mark):
In practice, I have to admit, there were a lot of drag-and-misses going on at first. Tabs weren't immediately stacking as easily as they should, they were just changing positions with each other. I realized that I was only able to stack tabs when dragging them from left-to-right, not right-to-left. In watching the demo video, that appears to be by design. That's an odd choice, in my opinion. It's not how I'd imagine this feature to work. When you click links on a Web page, tabs shoot out to the right of the tab you're currently on. It would only make sense to then drag those newly opened tabs back on top of the source tab. But that's not the case.
That being said, when I figured out how Opera wanted its tab stacking feature to work, it was easy to see the usefulness of stacks. It could definitely streamline your workflow...or even better, hide your non-work related Web surfing from the boss. (Not that we bloggers have that problem - Web surfing is always work-related!)
As a self-confessed tabaholic myself, this is one of the first features that has really grabbed my attention from Opera (even despite the initial bugginess) as I could immediately grasp the potential impact on my day-to-day Web research and browsing behavior. Returning to Chrome with its 20 or so open tabs all of a sudden felt busy, cluttered and disorganized. Maybe there's a Chrome extension to fix that?
Other New Features
Tab stacking isn't the only new feature in Opera 11. The updated beta also introduces the following:
- The address field now hides unnecessary information and puts the security status of each page front and center. Now, badges explain the security state of the site, giving consumers clear information about the sites they visit.
- Plug-ins can be set to load on-demand. This can give as much as 30 percent performance improvement.
- Extensions and Opera Unite applications are updated automatically through Opera's update mechanism.
- Even more work has been done to boost browsing speed, particularly for Linux. Opera 11 for Linux is 15 to 20 percent faster on common benchmarks than Opera 10.63.
- Bookmarks are just a click away thanks to a new bookmarks bar that replaces Opera's personal bar.
- Opera 11 is 30 percent smaller than Opera 10.63, despite including new features.
You can download Opera 11 beta from here.