Tabs are used to arrange information and input fields of a program window on several dialog boxes one behind the other. There is always a dialog box in the foreground. By clicking on the corresponding tab, another tab is brought to the foreground, whereby the information and any settings made on the previously used tabs remain.
Tabs are no longer just used for dialog boxes. They also serve as a navigation element in HTML pages.
As an alternative to the “sub-windows” in MDI programs, they are used nowadays, especially by web browsers, to display and store multiple documents (here: Internet pages) within a single program window . This type of operation is also called "tabbed browsing" or in English " tabbed browsing " (of English tab for tab , tab ).
In comparison to the freely positionable and individually resizable MDI windows, tabs are initially a limitation. The advantage, however, is an improved overview. The user can thus selectively navigate to the tab pages with the help of the tabs arranged on the tab bar.
Some newer applications, especially some modern text editors , are now trying to combine the advantages of MDI windows and tabs. To do this, the area in which the tabs are displayed can be subdivided so that several tabs can be opened next to one another. This makes it easier to compare the contents of different tabs, for example. Some examples of this are Notepad ++ and Microsoft Visual Studio .