Recently, the Firefox Test Pilot program introduced a new experiment called Side View, which enables users to add websites into a sidebar that allows for side-by-side viewing of pages in the same tab. When I first started using Side View, I knew there was no going back ... this experiment made for some seriously efficient, multitasking workflow. I still depend on Side View.
However (there's always a however), when I found out that the Vivaldi web browser had a similar feature built in, I had to test it out. This feature is called Web Panels, and to be perfectly honest, Vivaldi's take is quite a bit better than that of Firefox. Why is Vivaldi's take on this better? Primarily because it makes accessing multiple Web Panels easier. You can create as many Web Panels as you like and click on them as if they were tabs. Once open, a Web Panel acts as an independent sidebar, so no matter what tab you click on, the panel will remain open until you dismiss it.
I'm going to demonstrate how to use Vivaldi's Web Panel feature. I'll be doing so on Elementary OS, but the platform will not matter. The version of Vivaldi I am using is 1.15.1147.52.
Fair warning: Web Panels are as easy as they are addictive.
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How to open a Web Panel
With Vivaldi open, you'll see a small + button at the left edge of the window (Figure A).
After clicking the + button, you will be presented with a popup asking for a URL (Figure B). Type the address of the site you want to use in the Web Panel.
Once you've typed the URL, click the + button and your panel will be added. After you add the panel, it will immediately open in your current tab. You can click into different tabs, and guess what—the panel will remain open (Figure C).
You can also drag the Web Panel to take up more space than that of a simple sidebar. In fact, you can stretch a Web Panel such that it takes up to around 75% of the tab space. That means if you click on a link in a Web Panel'd site and you need more space to view it, you can just drag the scrollbar to the right until it has enough room. There is one caveat to this. If you resize a Web Panel, know that the new size will hold true for all Web Panels. In other words, if you resize one Web Panel, dismiss it and call forth a different Web Panel, the new one will be the same size as the last. Because of this, remember to return the panel size to its original sidebar format when you're done.
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How to dismiss a Web Panel
Another feature that makes Vivaldi's Web Panels somewhat superior to Firefox's Side View is how easy the panels are to dismiss and/or switch. All you have to do is click on the favicon representing the open Web Panel. This will close the Web Panel and return your current tab to the full window. And because dismissing a Web Panel doesn't cause you to lose it, you can reopen any of them by simply clicking on the favicon of the site you want to view.
The new norm
I believe Web Panel-like features will soon become the new norm in browsers. That being the case, Vivaldi's take could easily become the de facto standard. Bravo to the makers of Vivaldi for creating a version of this feature that could easily have others jumping the ship of their current browser. Give Web Panels a go and see if you don't find Vivaldi tempting you away from Firefox or Chrome (or Edge ... if you're so inclined).
- How to use Vivaldi's Page Actions feature for a better browsing experience (TechRepublic)
- Get more control over your browsing history with Vivaldi (TechRepublic)
- Vivaldi: A stellar web browser, but don't make it your default yet (TechRepublic)
- How the Test Pilot program could help save Firefox (TechRepublic)
- Vivaldi 1.14, First Take: A feature-rich, touch-friendly web browser (ZDNet)
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.