W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-html@w3.org > January 2003

Re: External links in XHTML 1.1

From: Roland Bluethgen <calocybe@web.de>
Date: Sat, 18 Jan 2003 14:50:18 +0100
Message-ID: <3E295B9A.9090506@web.de>
To: www-html@w3.org

David Woolley wrote:
> The same as in all previous versions:  don't consider them to be
> external. It's this sort of thinking that is why I say that the
> modern commercial web is actually denying the derivation of the name
> web, as authors are very reluctant to link off site.  As others have
> pointed out, popups are an accessibility issue.

I agree with you. Unfortunately there are many people that think
otherwise, and unfortunately they are sometimes willing to institute
legal proceedings to enforce their meaning. At least in Germany it is
not entirely uncommon to sue people for not using target="_blank" when
linking to another site. If there hadn't ever been the target attribute,
they wouldn't even have such an idea, but now ... we're in the mess. :-(

I think, many people who use target="_blank" do that not really to open
a new window but to point out that the link is going to another web site
(i.e. a page hosted on a server having a different host name). They
consider target="_blank" having an *implied semantical meaning*. This is
were Etan Wexler goes with his suggestion to use rel='external'. I had
the same idea some time ago and made a page that shows how it can be
accomplished to open a new window for links that have a rel='offsite'
attribute set, if the user wishes that (i.e this is optional) and the
user agent has the capability of doing this.

Now, how should a user agent open a window? I'm not a JavaScript
follower, but I feel, that opening a window is the first step of leaving
the area of text documents towards to browser based client side
applications. And the latter is definitely the realm of JavaScript (or
other client side scripting languages). I know, HTML is not the right
thing to create applications, but as pointed out above, many people
don't know. We will have to deal with the situation that client side
applications are built on top of HTML pages.

So what are we going to do? We mark up offsite links using
rel='external' or rel='offsite' and use JavaScript to make those links
open a new window when clicked on. Of course, users of non-javascript
capable browsers should not experience any limitation of usability.

I put together a page with a few links and some javascript routines that
accomplish this task at
http://calocybe.dyndns.org/temp/offsite-links.html . You'll see a
checkbox that switches on and off the new-window-routine. See the source
code to find out how this exactly works.

Ok David, this is entirely not the idea of the web. My suggestion is a
compromise for those who think they need to use a Strict version of HTML
but yet want to open new windows for some links. It's a daft solution
for a daft problem. I do not recommend using this at any rate, but I do
recommend using it if one is really really urged to open windows (by
one's boss, for example).

So, what do you think about this?
Received on Saturday, 18 January 2003 08:50:15 UTC

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