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RE: Why authors are using Transitional (and target="_blank")

From: Jake Liddell <jake@fourhats.com>
Date: Tue, 19 Feb 2008 08:00:11 -0000
Message-ID: <F27A178DEE37AA449805CFBB3186A08D01F107BF@euw0300240.xe2hosting.net>
To: "Sam Kuper" <sam.kuper@uclmail.net>
Cc: <public-html@w3.org>
I agree entirely.  We use _blank to enable us to provide often detailed supplementary information during a lengthy (16 page) application form process for a financial services provider.  The user is informed via the content that these links will open a new window (hopefully making things less confusing for those using assistive technology), but the last thing the user wants is to have to navigate away from the main application process every time they come across a term that they don’t understand.  (Speaking as a lay-person in financial terms, I would probably want to read and refer to several such windows if I were completing the form.)


I don’t see what’s wrong with this approach.  It’s intuitive for the user.  With proper content labels, it can be accessible.  I don’t see why it shouldn’t also be valid.




From: public-html-request@w3.org [mailto:public-html-request@w3.org] On Behalf Of Sam Kuper
Sent: 19 February 2008 01:30
To: marghanita@ramin.com.au
Subject: Re: Why authors are using Transitional (and target="_blank")


On 18/02/2008, Marghanita da Cruz <HYPERLINK "mailto:marghanita@ramin.com.au"marghanita@ramin.com.au> wrote:
>It would be interesting to hear the case for using [target="_blank"], or is it a default in
>authoring tools.

I already gave a case for using target="_blank" instead of target="name".

Here's another case for using target="_blank". Gmail, by default, sets the target for all external links to "_blank". This allows Gmail to work much more like an email client application (which you expect to stay open after you've clicked a link in an email) than just one of many web pages you may happen to have open (which may or may not stay in place when you click a link in them). It also means that Gmail doesn't risk overwriting the contents of other open browser tabs/windows, which would be puzzling for the user and could, if such tabs/windows contained edited but unsubmitted forms, lead to data loss.**

There are obviously situations in which using target="_blank" will confuse users. But there are also cases in which *not* using target="_blank" could confuse users. I think external links from Gmail constitute one of the latter cases, because it would be pretty confusing if each link you clicked in your email app replaced the app with the linked item!

In fact, any web application which needs both (a) continuous presence in a browser window and (b) the ability to link to external documents in a way that opens them in new windows, ought to be able to be written using target="_blank". Such applications could be online calendars, or word processors, or ... you get the idea. *Real* applications can use new windows beneficially, and authors who write such applications must have the tools available to enable them to do so in a way that is compliant with HTML5.

Therefore, I advocate the inclusion of target="_blank" as conforming in HTML5, not because failure to do so would make pop-up elimination harder, but because failure to do so would leave authors writing legitimate, useful new applications in difficulty.


**What do I mean by this? It's an extension of the argument I made about the difficulty of using target="name" in a collaborative environment. Essentially, the browser is a collaborative environment. Say I've visited HYPERLINK "http://www.a.com"www.a.com and that site has a link, which I've clicked, that loads a help popup into target="help". Meanwhile, in a new tab/window, I visit HYPERLINK "http://www.b.com"www.b.com, which belongs to an entirely separate company and was authored by a different agency. However, coincidentally, HYPERLINK "http://www.b.com"www.b.com also has a link to a help page, which has target="help". When I click that link, instead of opening in a new window/tab, the help page for HYPERLINK "http://www.b.com"www.b.com will overwrite the help page for HYPERLINK "http://www.a.com"www.a.com . If I were a novice user, I'd find that totally befuddling. If, on the other hand, both help pages used target="_blank", then a quick look at the taskbar (or tab bar, etc) would show that both help pages had opened, and I'd be able to switch between them easily and intuitively by selecting them on the taskbar (or tab bar, etc).

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Received on Wednesday, 20 February 2008 16:44:21 UTC

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