[whatwg] modal and modeless windows

J. Graham jg307 at hermes.cam.ac.uk
Sun Jun 26 13:24:25 PDT 2005

On Sun, 26 Jun 2005, Karl Pongratz wrote:

> Graham,

(James actually :) )

> My point is, you can browse web documents, but you can't browse web 
> applications, the browsing model is out of date.

How do you distinguish the two? If we agree (we may not, I don't think you 
mentioned this) that it's undesirable to let web sites disable features 
such as the back button (and, because of phishing scams, this is certainly 
the direction that UA vendors are moving in - for example chromeless 
windows are likely to become extinct in the near future) there needs to be 
a way to distinguish between a web site and a (trustworthy) web app - is 
the WHATWG mailing list subscription form an example of a document or of 
an app? You can certianly browse to it and away from it but it has some 
app-like functionality. If we let that page disable the back button 
presumably there'll be no way to stop  any other site from doing so and 
we'll suffer all the UI problems I previously described.

Proving a simple, fixed, navigational paradigm isn't "out of date", it's 
essential to the usability of the web. If you want to introduce technology 
that allows authors to break that model in situations where the it doesn't 
make sense [1] you have to make _really_sure_ you don't allow them to 
break it anywhere else.

[1] These are rarer than people believe - in  general you should try to 
write applications that can deal with the back button and other 
browser-provided navigation, rather than break when it is used.

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