W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-html@w3.org > February 2004

Re: Target attrib in HTML 4.01 Strict

From: Christoph Päper <christoph.paeper@tu-clausthal.de>
Date: Wed, 11 Feb 2004 00:28:00 +0100
Message-ID: <006401c3f02d$8628ef10$3ef4ae8b@heim4.tuclausthal.de>
To: <www-html@w3.org>
Cc: "Justin Wood" <Callek@juno.com>

*Justin Wood*:
> It is in my opinion that the target attribute should be in HTML 4.01
> strict with the following guideline, only the built-in uses for target
> should be recognized, (_blank, _top, etc.)

I would accept its presence (in XHTML 2 or so), if '_blank' was *disallowed*.

However, Strict is not supposed to be used with Frameset as frames (except for
some reason 'iframe') are deprecated themselves. XFrames has some crude URI
syntax that doesn't require an 'target' attribute anymore AFAIR.

> , I for one, never want a page I visit to
> AUTO-break out of a frame, I want the option.

In several countries it is illegal to "frame" someone else's content. However,
in Frameset and Transitional DTDs, 'target' is allowed.

>  > <a href="foobar.html" onclick="open_new_window('foobar.html')">

For practical use, it would look more like this:

  <a onclick="open_new_window(this.href);return false;"

or this:

  <script type="application/x-foo">
    function newwin() {window.open(this.href)}
    bar = document.getElementsByTagName("a");
    bar = bar.getElementsByClassName("newwin");
  <a class="newwin" href="foobar.html">

> multiple windows, but however since there is no mouse,

'onclick' is not limited to mice. Besides, on* don't belong into HTML either
(IMVHO), but into the scripting language with DOM access.

> shouldnt HTML default to, "allow unless CSS has an alternative),

That's a reasonable approach for really presentational features, but IMO not
so for behavioural, which should rather and can already be handled by
scripting languages.

> and on any external link I have had a habit of using target _blank with
> a note that it opens in a new window.

That's very annoying behaviour. Users who want (some) links to open in new
windows or tabs, usually know how to achieve that. Only very few pages should
*offer* that feature independent of the browser, for example search engine
results (Google does, for instance).

OTOH people, who know how to identify pop-upping links and how to prevent that
behaviour on their demand, are *very* rare.

> I get annoyed when I expect to still be in one site,

There is yet to be a technical definition of "one site". No, second level
domain name doesn't work in general.

> and click an external link and am no longer in that
> site, but in the same window, makes for confusing practice.

Yes, I have heard of two or three such sad ones like you. You are however not
in the majority. Most people still expect links to open in the current
tab/window (if they didn't tell their browser to do otherwise).

> Also as a website designer, when you have links elsewhere, you _want_
> your users/viewers to have (quick) access to your page after they click
> a pop-up link,

They surely didn't leave without a reason.

> not everyone even knows there is a 'back' button.

That's a frequent misconception among web authors. The concept of a back
button is learnt much quicker than the concept of a windowed GUI. Watch your
grandfather, granddaughter or the like surf the Web.

> All I ask is for functionality to be legal in Strict

Opening new pages without the user's request is considered bad behaviour and
as Strict is not intended to be used together with Frameset, it is reasonable
to not include 'target'. If one still wants or needs it, one can still use

> at least until it is presented in (a public) CSS format.

At least CSS features user overrides, which HTML does not.
Received on Tuesday, 10 February 2004 18:30:06 UTC

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