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

From: Justin James <j_james@mindspring.com>
Date: Thu, 21 Feb 2008 01:32:17 -0500
To: "'Sam Kuper'" <sam.kuper@uclmail.net>, "'HTMLWG'" <public-html@w3.org>
Message-ID: <05f401c87453$8319e8c0$894dba40$@com>

Hello to all, this is my first post to this group since I joined.

I am curious as to why the HTML 5 spec should even *reference* the concept of "clicking". A user agent is not necessarily a Web browser. What should a search engine spider's behavior be? Or Lynx? Or some third party tool that is trying to properly use the semantic nature of HTML?

I agree that target="_blank" is the best possible approach; Web authors, for better or worse, need to be able to *request* that a *Web browser* (or similar user agent running in a GUI environment) open a new window, tab, or other such viewing area for the contents of the link. target=_blank is also the most inline with the semantic Web approach; it clearly states its intentions in a declarative manner, as opposed to requiring a JavaScript interpreter, working within a Web browser user agent to execute it and the results to be seen by a human to be understood... that is not "semantic Web", that is something else.

Any conversation which brings JavaScript into the equation is asking for trouble at the accessibility level, the adoption level, and the non-browser user agent level. The entire *point* of the "semantic Web" concept is for non-human consumers of HTML documents to be able to derive some semblance of meaning from them. Any approach that requires JavaScript, the HTML DOM in general, or user intervention is contrary to the semantic Web concept.

As such, I believe that *any* requirement or reference in the specification to things like "left click" and "right click" or any other functions *specific* to Web browsers running in a GUI really is not something that needs to be in the HTML spec. Let the folks at Opera, Mozilla, Microsoft, Apple, etc. write that into their project specifications. After all, how should Lynx interpret a spec that demands click-based behavior?

I know, of course, that extremely few people actually browse the Web using Lynx. But the idea is similar to the thermostat or elevator design principle of C; if Lynx (or Google's spider, or a Perl script) can't do it or make sense of it, there is a good chance that it does not belong in the HTML spec.


From: public-html-request@w3.org [mailto:public-html-request@w3.org] On Behalf Of Sam Kuper
Sent: Wednesday, February 20, 2008 7:39 PM
Subject: Re: Why authors are using Transitional (and target="_blank")

On 21/02/2008, Boris Zbarsky <bzbarsky@mit.edu> wrote:

Philip TAYLOR wrote:
> The decision as to whether to open in the same
> window, the same window but a new tab, or in
> a new window, should be the user's and the user's
> alone.  The document can offer guidance (such as
> "best opened in a new window"), but should not
> enforce that behaviour.
For what it's worth, Gecko treats target="_blank" as exactly such a
hint.  There is a user preference for where to actually target the load.

So in this case, the user agent allows the user to override link targets by right-clicking and choosing from a menu. Gecko is just providing the counterpart command to Right-click > Open in new window . I think this is fair enough and might answer Philip Taylor's concerns. So a link with no target specified will open in the same window if it's left-clicked. A link with target="_blank" will open in a new window/tab when it's left-clicked. But right-clicking on either will give the user the choice to open in the same window, or a new window or tab.

Perhaps the HTML5 spec should, in addition to retaining target="_blank", require this behaviour of user agents.

Received on Friday, 22 February 2008 05:44:31 UTC

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