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RE: Problem with 'target-new' property and alternative suggestion

From: Brad Fults <brad@mipscomputation.com>
Date: Mon, 13 Sep 2004 15:57:55 -0700
To: <www-style@w3.org>
Message-ID: <E1C6znM-00064e-DJ@frink.w3.org>

<<In particular, I think "internal" is used here to represent the condition
under which authors think that readers should be forced to have a new
window.  Charitably, that could be defined as meaning
"NotInMyEditorialControl" and more realistically, although not something the
average author would want to make explicit,
"LessLikelyToResultInUsMakingMoney".  Generally the purpose of forcing a new
window is to try and lock people into the site; in other words it is not
selfless indication of a semantic difference but a selfish attempt to gain a
commercial advantage.>>

I agree with this interpretation because the act of trying to force a user
to open a new window or tab for a link is a direct indication of the
relationship of the link to the current page. The purpose of semantic markup
is to explain how elements relate to one another, leaving the actions taken
based on the relationships entirely up to the user agent.

The original use of target="_blank" was a poor hack to make up for the lack
of good UA support of proper interpretation and action based on semantic
relationships. This brings in the relevant question of how much power a web
page should be given over a user's experience. As far as a semantic web is
concerned, the answer to that question should be "little or none". The web
should contain markup delivering content and indicating relationships
between content for the user agent. The user agent would then interpret the
content, the relationships, and the user's preferences to deliver the final
product within the desired limits of the user. Lets not forget that it is a
_user_ agent, i.e. acting on behalf and under the control of the user.

The point I wish to make is that instead of validating the addition of
target-new by noting that target="_blank" is deprecated, one should realize
that the decision of what to do with an external link should be _entirely_
up to the UA (and in turn the user). For these reasons I suggest that CSS be
restricted to styling, not behavior, and that HTML be enhanced with the
proper tools needed to accurately describe contemporary content on the web.

I don't think any of this interferes with a developer's ability to brand a
site. Content should stand on its own and not need crutches such as forcing
new windows to keep users interested.

<<I personally like the rel="external" idea. I even imagine further useful
relationships, such as "help" and "sidebar" which could significantly reduce
dependence on script to open undecorated windows.>>

I agree. In addition I think there should be other values for the rel
attribute that would specify other common practices such as the popup.
Something like a rel="dialog" or rel="popup" (less desirable as it is not
describing a relationship accurately) would be advantageous in that: a) the
window.open() code could be eliminated; and b) the UA could give further
control to the user over a site's behavior by, for example, creating the
dialog within the same window superimposed over the content, thus
eliminating the annoying popup control issues.

The way I see standards becoming more useful is by standardizing(!) the way
information is delivered to the UA so the user can interact with the
presented content as he or she pleases, not by giving more intrusive control
to unwieldy developers.

-BF
Received on Monday, 13 September 2004 23:03:53 GMT

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