Fix Chromium’s “Open in New Tab” behavior

I’ve started using daily builds of Chromium for most of my Mac and Linux-based browsing, largely to see where it is and give it a try, but also because it seems nearly as good as Firefox with a couple of known exceptions. (For now, those exceptions are printing, SSL, and Adblock Plus.)

The only thing truly driving me nuts is its open-in-new-tab behavior: if you click to open a new tab (in the background), Firefox will open a new tab at the end of your existing set of tabs. Chromium, by contrast, will insert the new tab immediately after the current tab.

The difference amounts to breadth-first versus depth-first searches, and Google’s behavior is less useful than Firefox’s behavior, even if you don’t think that standard is better than better. Here’s why:

Let’s say that I have the front page of The New York Times open in both browsers. I want to open the Sports pages, the Real Estate section, and the Regional news, and then I want to select a set of articles from each of those sections to read. Finally, I want to read the articles I’ve chosen.

In Firefox, I can command-click on those three sections in order, then close the main page’s tab. I’ll be on the next tab, which would be the Sports pages, where I can click on several articles to read. Then, closing that tab, I would be on the Real Estate section, where I can click more articles and close that tab, before repeating this behavior on the regional news section.

Now that I’ve clicked through the sections, I have no open section tabs and an ordered list of articles I want to read. I can read each article and close its tab, which will put me in place to read the next article on my list. If I open any subsidiary links, it’s true that these will be at the end of my queue of items to read, but if I want to interrupt my scheduled reading to see what’s in a link, I’m already interrupting my train of thought and might as well open the link in the existing window, rather than in a tab.

Contrast this behavior to Chromium. If I want to read the Sports section’s articles first, I need first to click through Regional News and Real Estate, then Sports, in each section opening tabs for the articles I wish to read in reverse order of interest each time.

In other words, for ordered reading of content such as newspapers or even RSS feeds, Firefox’s behavior is superior to Chromium’s. It’s true that for depth-first searching, which I sometimes prefer for researching a given topic, Chromium’s behavior is better. However, it’s less better to research depth-first than it is to read content breadth-first, and as the Internet becomes my primary source of content, and as the browser becomes my primary means of viewing that content, the depth-first approach is helpful a decreasing percentage of the time.