[whatwg] modal and modeless windows

J. Graham jg307 at hermes.cam.ac.uk
Sun Jun 26 08:31:59 PDT 2005

On Sun, 26 Jun 2005, Karl Pongratz wrote:

> can someone tell me why I should want, respectively why I am 
> allowed to return to a form page I just submitted, does that make any sense?

In order:
You might want to return to the form page to submit the form with 
different details. A typical example of this would be a rail timetable 
application where returning to the form page would allow adjustments to 
the journey without having to reenter the unchanged data. This is 
extremely common.

You are allowed to return to the previous form page because a) it's more 
often useful than not and b) because allowing authors to mess about with 
the back button would cause more harm than good. The back button is widely 
understood (moreso than links and, especially, the location bar, for 
example) and therefore important in making the web usable. Unscrpulous 
authors would take advantage of the ability to disable the back button to 
prevent users from backing out of their sites. The user would have no clue 
why the back button worked on some sites but not on others. To improve the 
UI, browser makers would prevent the back button from being disabled (c.f. 
popup windows).

> That's where most problems start in regard to web applications, this is not 
> the only problem, but probably one of the most significant once, the browsing 
> model. Can we change the browsing model? I think yes, by introducing modal 
> and modeless windows, view documents by using the traditional browsing model, 
> but anything else, manipulating data and form submission, would be done in 
> modal windows, and more. Well, its not that simple, it may require to modify 
> the caching model and other parts as well, however, I consider them as the 
> primer for anything else.

Having different types of windows doesn't make much sense to me. If you 
want to do abusable things like disabling the back button (or reading 
local files or using chromeless windows  or...) you need a way for a user 
to indicate that they trust you not to do anything evil. The most common 
way to do that at the moment is to run the application locally (although 
this clearly doesn't work - most spyware runs locally yet is evil)

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