Re: Proposed anchor target attribute _download

On Thu, 03 Jan 2013 14:40:23 +0100, Boris Zbarsky <> wrote:

> On 1/2/13 1:34 PM, Abram Wiebe wrote:
>> Therefore I propose adding
>> <a href="imageOrOtherResource.jpg" target="_download">
> Is this not already supported with  

Hmmm. There is obviously a proposal out there that *could* be supported.  
And it seems coherent.

On the other hand, the use case story there seems pretty strange.

An author is expected to know whether I would prefer to download a  
resource or simply open it normally. This strikes me as unlikely.

At the extremes there are cases where I will directly open a link to a  
software package, others where I prefer to save linked content that is an  
HTML page.

I believe every browser I have used has happily allowed these use cases,  
and on average I have download something more than once per day - often in  
cases where I would not have expected the author to understand enough of  
what I am doing at the time to be able to make a meaningful suggestion  
about how I should open the link. A parallel case is that I bookmark a  
link instead of resolving it, for opening later on a different browser  
that shares my bookmarks, but this is not served at all as far as I can  

The use case offered in this thread essentially suggests defining the user  
interface of browsers - which is often not a good idea, and has therefore  
generally been avoided.

In short, it seems unclear that Ian thought carefully about the use cases  
before writing a specification of the attribute.

This still leaves the download algorithm providing some security ideas,  
and the attribute suggesting a filename when it is saved - something that  
the HTTP Content-Disposition also does if I recall correctly.

If the security ideas have been really tested, they might be useful - at  
the very least, on the face of it they seem reasonable precautions in the  
case of cross-origin downloads. I don't recall reading the discussion, but  
I only follow the whatwg mailing list and not every source Ian apparently  

In summary, the attribute proposing a name seems an unnecessary addition  
to the web platform for such a trivial functionality.

Just 2c worth. I'd be interested to know if there is something I missed or  



Charles McCathie Nevile - Consultant (web standards) CTO Office, Yandex         Find more at

Received on Friday, 4 January 2013 03:14:42 UTC