W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-html@w3.org > January 2000

RE: frames: why they must be destroyed

From: <JOrendorff@ixl.com>
Date: Mon, 24 Jan 2000 14:36:35 -0500
Message-ID: <CD8E2CDBC6D0D111ACB900805FBBD97E0263013D@mem-131.ixl.com>
To: www-html@w3.org
> > Search engines have problems with frameset documents, too.
> They've had to accomodate to them, though.

Some have.  Google hasn't.

> > Worse, frames break the Reload button.  If I click Reload, I lose my
> > place.
> You can right click refresh/reload on the big 2 GUI browsers.

Thanks for the tip, but that just illustrates that I have failed to
make my point.  :)

It's a usability problem; I hope you see it.  Think about how people
use technology.

When I'm in my car and I want to stop, I hit the brakes.  The brakes
should slow the car down.  It should work all the time.  Not 95% of
the time; all the time.  There should be no special circumstance
under which pushing the brake pedal ejects my CD, turns off the
headlights, rolls down the windows, moves my seat, sprays glass cleaner
onto my windshield, or opens my garage door.

Ask someone, "What does the brake pedal do?" and they say "Stops
the car."  It's a clear, confident answer, too; no ifs, ands, or buts.
That's good design.  One need, one control.  Simple.  Safe.  You don't
have to stop and think, "Now, should I hit the brakes, or is this one
of those situations where I need to right-click and select 'Slow Down'
from the context menu?"

Now consider Refresh.  What does it do?  Reloads the current URL,
maybe, but real humans don't think in those terms.  People who use it
at all will usually say, "It reloads the, uh, page."  Hmm.

If you use something long enough, you learn to use it instinctively.
But instinct, alas, doesn't cover exceptions to the rule.  That
requires a little thought, and by the time you're thinking about it,
you've already clicked Refresh and it's too late.

Then, to compound the problem, the Back button won't switch back to
what you were viewing (or working on) a moment ago.

Anyway, that's the usability problem there, as I see it, and if I'm
being stupid please let me know... thanks for reading this far.

   * * *

The rest of your message is quite pessimistic.  I don't think things
are quite that bad.

The truth is, usability and profits usually go together.  And semantic
markup really can (theoretically) make all sorts of things easier.

There are web features (like CSS) that take advantage of these facts,
and those features are used more and more, human ignorance and
misimplementations notwithstanding.  Why would the trend reverse?

It may take 5 years or more, but people *will* understand the web
better in the future.  Features will improve and software will mature.
There's nothing significant fighting that, least of all this sound and
fury about "deep linking".

Jason Orendorff
Received on Monday, 24 January 2000 14:37:15 UTC

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