First of all, my compliments: both articles are clearly written, have great examples, demonstrate (highly!) impressive CSS acumen and the resulting tabs _look_ great.
That said (and I know I’m going to get flamed for this, but so be it…), I have to take strong exception to the section of (Part II) entitled “No Current Tab”. You just CAN’T have a set of tabs without one of them being selected. Period. Full stop. No exceptions—don’t do it! (And yes, I _have_ seen countless examples (for example, the old Yahoo) where people _have_ attempted to do this anyway.)
To clarify, what I mean by “CAN’T” is not that it is _technically_ impossible (of course it is possible, as Example 7 in the article demonstrates), it is just really, really unwise. So, I’m saying “can’t” in the sense that you “can’t” let your two year old play with a lighter or matches.
Look, these CSS-generated ‘tabs’ (and the similar GUI widgets that they are modeled on) are actually just visual metaphores for a real (physical) set of tabs . . . like you’d see on manila folders and on file cabinet hanging folders. Now with the physical folders, one (and only one) folder _has_ to be in front. You can’t have two (or more) of them simultaneously be front-most.
Right about now some may be thinking: hey, we’re in the virtual (not physical) world here; why don’t we break free of the restraints? Well, not only does having “no current tab” break the metaphore, it causes serious usability problems.
If you don’t have one of the tabs selected (current), then the user _does not know where they are_ in reference to the (implied or apparent) navigation that the set of tabs supports. And if they are unsure as to where they are now, they will also have a (much) more difficult time deciding where to go next. Now if your navigation is simple and the navigation paths are clearly labeled (again, think of Yahoo), then the latter difficulty is lessened (but is still there); for unfamiliar site/applications; poorly labeled paths; or branching navigation flows the difficulty will be worse.
For completness’ sake, I should also mention that using tab sets for open-ended navigation (like Yahoo does) or for “a registration process” (as the article mentions) or any other process for that matter, is just a bad idea in the first place. If their usage is confined to just using them as they were originally intended (i.e. to space-multiplex a lot of GUI elements in an overall fixed-size area—for example: for property sheets) then these problems can be avoided.
Thanks for listening;
let the flames begin… ;-)