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RE: New Window inform

From: Jukka Korpela <jukka.korpela@tieke.fi>
Date: Fri, 26 Jul 2002 15:36:58 +0300
Message-ID: <621574AE86FAD3118D1D0000E22138A95BDD91@TIEKE1>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org

Jon Hanna wrote:

> If you don't want to be intrusive then you will only be 
> opening a window if you have a very good reason to do so.

Yes, mostly the problem is best _avoided_ that way, instead of trying to
find a solution or workaround to a problem that didn't exist until
target="_blank" or window.open() or something else created it.

> Presumably this is more  of a web-based
> application than a website, and as such at least some introduction and
> how-to will be necessary. Explain that the windows are opened 
> (and why) in this introduction. 

(And use CSS (display:none, in a rule to be applied in print media) to
suggest that the text be suppressed when printing. Such explanations aren't
particularly useful in printed copies. In aural presentations, they might or
might not be relevant, so we probably shouldn't say speak:none. While
writing some CSS for this, you might as well add something that tunes the
visual appearance, to make the instructions look different from normal
textual content. It might be obvious to "normal" people, but not to all of
us, that some texts aren't part of the content proper but just information
about what might happen if you use the page in some particular way.)

But there _might_ be occasions even in Web design when it is not completely
pointless to try to make a link open in a new window. I have sometimes
wondered what to do when linking to a Web page that does odd things that
e.g. mess up the Back button (when JavaScript is enabled), and I've used
target="_blank" _and_ an explicit warning (saying that the link opens in a
new window, and why). For the most of it, of course, it's best not to link
to such pages. But if you do, or if you otherwise link to a page that is
known to cause problems, some warning is useful. You might even consider
just writing the warning and _not_ making the link open in a new window,
since the user can usually do that if desired.

It's a good old principle in Web design not to talk about mechanics ("click
here", "scroll forward", etc.) and presentation-dependent features ("the
important items are in red") unless absolutely necessary. I would say that
telling how links open, or might open, belongs to this category. The the
principle is not less important but more important than in the early 1990s
when it was presented (cf. to TimBL's old style guide
http://www.w3.org/Provider/Style/ ). Browsing situations vary more than
ever. You _cannot_ force a browser open a new window, so you surely mislead
some people if you say "This link will open in a new window". Sometimes it's
acceptable, for a greater purpose. But usually not. If you live, say, under
a company policy that tells that all links to other sites must open in new
windows, just live with it; users will have problems, but there's no simple
way to help them in a non-disrupting manner (except by changing the policy,
that is).

Jukka Korpela, senior adviser
TIEKE Finnish Information Society Development Centre
Phone: +358 9 4763 0397 Fax: +358 9 4763 0399 
Received on Friday, 26 July 2002 08:34:07 UTC

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