Tab click-through areas

It’s often true that the further away you get from an event, like the release day for the Safari 4 beta, the closer you get to a fair analysis. Initial Twitter reaction was gut level and some not even based on anything but screen shots. “My own post”:http://www.manton.org/2009/02/defending.html was admittedly slightly half baked, but I think it stands up fine.

Now we are seeing some more thoughtful analysis, including from “Dan Frakes of Macworld”:http://www.macworld.com/article/139026/2009/02/safari4tabs.html, and “Lukas Mathis”:http://ignorethecode.net/blog/2009/02/26/on-tabs-and-docking-and-title-bars/, and of course the thorough “John Gruber of Daring Fireball”:http://daringfireball.net/2009/03/safari_4_public_beta.

I wanted to revisit one thing with click-through. If you eliminate the mouse rollovers and click-through for inactive tabs, you end up with surprisingly few places to accidentally click. Here are two screenshots illustrating the difference between Safari 4 and BBEdit.

Safari 4 tab example

It’s true that the file icon needs a hold-and-drag, so it’s harder to click, and the hide toolbar button is off to the side and less dangerous than closing a tab. Nevertheless, viewed by pixels alone there isn’t a significant difference between the safely clickable area of these two window title bars if Apple makes this small change.

Update: If I left too much to the imagination, here are examples of the real Safari 4 clickable areas, not the way I wish it would be above.

title_bars2_small.png

And the extreme example with even more tabs:

Safari 4 tab extreme

The important point is that if you disable click-through for inactive tabs, the safe area does not change even with dozens of tabs, and in my opinion it is only marginally worse than other standard Mac applications, as shown in the first two screenshots. The current Safari 4 behavior, on the other hand, continues to degrade until the window title bar is nearly useless.