Please Buff Firefox Container Tabs
I love the idea behind Firefox’s new container tabs. Essentially, container tabs create a separate world for a website to exist in. For example, if Facebook is accessed within a container tab, Facebook cannot touch any data outside of that container. So they do not get to see your data from any other sites, because that data literally doesn’t exist within the container’s environment. When I heard about this I thought that was super cool, the idea of managing your personal data at the browser level was fresh for me, so I gave it a shot.
While I was excited about the idea containers, After using them for awhile I realized they don’t quite work how I’d like. Starting off, first thing I wanted to do was make a container for Facebook. So I went thru the menu, made a “Facebook container tab”, and assigned Facebook to always load in this container tab.
Then I did the same for Twitter. A new “Twitter” container made, Twitter.com is locked to that container. ‘OK great, what’s next?’ As the list of sites I’d like to contain grew, I started thinking:
Why not have every site open in it’s own container by default?
This brings me to my current issue with container tabs: they feel only for a small bundle of special sites. The default groups, Personal, Shopping, Banking, etc, force you to make choices about what websites you want to be touching each other. Judging from the current UI/UX for containers, I believe the idea was to have most of the user’s activity stay in normal, free for all tabs, and only funnel special, unique sites into containers. Right now this idea does work well, but I really wish it could do more.
I like diagrams, so here’s how I see the current container tab implementation:
The dream for me is to start every new tab with absolutely no personal data. But this creates a problem. I use the handy Google authentication on a number of sites, and a fresh container for every tab puts this modern convenience into peril. In those cases, I’d need to be able control that unique tabs access to my local Google data.
After using them for a bit, this shows how I wished the tabs worked:
So overall, my design would have every single new tab would originate as an independent, empty container. When I go to a site that wants to use my local data (like a Google auth), notify me to switch the container into one where the requested data is available. For sites I use regularly, keep the current functionality to remember which sites are assigned to a container. The key piece I’m missing today is the ability to seamlessly create and assign containers as I browse.
I hope this idea is possible. Once you begin to separate every site at the browser, it begins to open up questions as to how do you effectively manage and control a site’s access to local data, both under the hood and in the UI. I don’t have those answers, but I hope these container tabs lead to more exploration with controlling your personal data directly in the browser.