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Re: Ajax Back/Forward History problem document state by document.save()

From: Sylvain Hellegouarch <sh@defuze.org>
Date: Tue, 22 Nov 2005 17:06:22 +0100
Message-ID: <1132675582.438341fed1c91@webmail.defuze.org>
To: public-webapi@w3.org

Hi Kenny,

> Good point, you are right. I use the back button just as much as
> anyone, and I hope I didn't sound like I wanted to do away with them.
> I just think that there could be better controls to navigate around
> the web than a simple back and forward button and that users have been
> limited by what browsers have to offer. But it would be up to the
> browsers to implement new controls, in this area I don't think there
> is anything wrong with the standards.
>
> Lachlan mentioned Gmail and and there are two ways I think you can
> look at that application. First is that it breaks the back button
> because when you click back, it doesn't take you to what you were just
> looking at, it takes you out of Gmail all together. The second way I
> see to look at it is that Gmail is just a one page application and
> that the back button takes you out of the application is correct
> behavior.
>
> Maybe the reason someone might feel the need to click the back button
> is because of the way Google designed the page layout. It looks like
> it is a normal way page, and each section (settings, inbox, etc...)
> look like separate pages. So the user will think they are separate
> pages and think the back button will take them back to the page
> before.
>
> Another example is Google maps. I am less inclined to try and click
> the back button there because of the way the page is designed, updates
> seem to be contained into specific areas, not affect the whole page. I
> could still see someone trying to use the back button with Google maps
> though.
>
> Flickr uses Ajax and I don't think anyone would try to use the back
> button to undo the page updates caused by Ajax. When you move to
> another section of the site, it actually pages, so the back button
> still works as expected.
>
> I guess what I am getting at is maybe we do not need more tools to
> help us develop dynamic application and not break the back button.
> Maybe we just need to be smart about the way we design and develop our
> applications, and a set of best practices perhaps. Maybe if you create
> a web app that "breaks the back button", and your users are still
> trying to click the back button, them maybe you need to re-look at the
> way you created and designed your application? Better web application
> usability.

I very much agree with your above comments. IMO instead of providing a tweak
through javascript for a developer to respect the way the back/forward buttons
currently work (or shall are being implemented and therefore used) is bad
practice overall.

Not to say we should end up with a new icon button saying "back/forward
friendly" like we have "tabless friendly" or "css friendly" but maybe give
hints on what should be the expected behavior for an application using Ajax.
But then the targets are not only developers but (and in fact mainly) browser
vendors.

> I wonder what everyone thinks of that, or do web developers really
> need the ability to save the state of a page into history so the user
> can go back to it?

I must say I don't like the idea at all and it sounds like a huge
security/spamming hole as most developers won't do it which could even be worse
in terms of usability.

- Sylvain


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