workspaces in Google Chrome

I really liked using OmniWeb. Back before Safari existed, OmniWeb was, for me, a much better option than Firefox. It was very fast, did a good job saving my session, had per-site preferences, and had workspaces. I am stymied, deeply and daily, by the lack of good workspace support in every other browser.

I feel like I’ve spent hours, today, trying to figure out how to replicate the basic features of OmniWeb workspaces in Chrome. My spec is something like this:

  1. A workspace is a bunch of tabs. Maybe windows, too. I’m okay with tabs.
  2. I can quickly switch from Workspace A to B. All the tabs from A go away and the ones from B appear.
  3. If I change the tabs I’m working on while in WS B, then go work in A, then come back to B, I come back to the the state of B before I left it.
  4. I can easily move tabs from A to B. (This is vital, because URLs opened from external programs will presumably go into whatever workspace is currently active, and might not be topical.)

I looked at a Chrome Workspaces, which was promising, but:

  • had numerous reports of data loss
  • didn’t provide any clear way to move a tab from one WS to another; you can copy the URL and re-open it in the other WS, but that requires re-opening every tab in the workspace, and loses your tab’s history, and if you have to switch back, you’ve got to reload all your tabs in your original workspace, too!

Session Buddy seems great. It saves all your windows and tabs, and can keep multiple snapshots, both by time and named snapshots. Snapshots can be restored, deleted, and tweaked in place.

Unfortunately what you can’t do is say “save my current session and swap out all the current windows for the ones in some other session.” In other words, it isn’t a workspace system at all, even though it seems to have almost everything it would need to be one. Well, I guess it doesn’t claim to be one, so I shouldn’t be grumpy.

While writing this, I was suddenly inspired to run Firefox, because I felt like I’d found a solution there that I could no longer recall. I was right! Panorama! Tab groups! Panorama is the best workspace thing ever. Forget about OmniWeb. What was I thinking? Man! Panorama is awesome. Why did I stop using Firefox, again?

Oh, right. It was because it was achingly slow.

Well, Panorama came out in mid-2010. Surely it’s been ripped off by now, right? Yes!

Tab Sugar was a pure copy of Panorama to Google Chrome.

Unfortunately, the developer gave up because Chrome couldn’t offer the data he needed. Augh!

Having spent all this time suffering through trying to find a solution in Chrome, I may just give up for now. Either I’ll continue to try to enjoy Chrome without tab groups, or I’ll move back to Firefox and see whether it’s gotten any faster in the last year.

Or maybe tomorrow morning I’ll try Tabs Outliner… or Sidewise Tree Style Tabs

Written on January 22, 2013
chrome