[whatwg] modal and modeless windows

Karl Pongratz karlhp at karlhp.com
Mon Jun 27 06:55:48 PDT 2005

James Graham wrote:

> Matthew Raymond wrote:
>> Karl Pongratz wrote:
>>> Let's take the subscription page in case that we would have a modal 
>>> window. You would still browse to the subscription page, though it 
>>> wouldn't have any form field on it, instead there is a link "Click 
>>> here to subscribe", clicking on it opens a modal window (smaller 
>>> than the main window), which contains the form fields for the 
>>> subscription. Fill in the form, submit it, show some "Thank you for 
>>> your subscription", that's it, then close the window manually.
>>> You may not want to do that for very simple forms like a 
>>> subscription page, but it becomes very handy for complex forms where 
>>> you use a lot of DHTML, AJAX, Xforms or whatsoever. As far as I 
>>> know, AJAX applications break your web browser history, though if 
>>> you do the complex AJAX part, let's say a complex Wizard, inside a 
>>> modal window then it wont break you web browser history, and you 
>>> wont have pages in your web browser history which shouldn't be there 
>>> anyway.
>>    If you have AJAX, why not submit form data via XMLHttpRequest 
>> rather than changing the current URL? That way, there is no back 
>> button within the context of navigating the application.
> Indeed, that seems like a reasonable solution that doesn't require
> multiple types of window (and fits the general HTTP model quite well
> since a single web-app can be seen as a single resource accessible
> through a single URL). There are various other pieces of technology in
> the spec that make this sort of thing even easier (server-sent DOM
> events, for example, so a system for the server to push data to the
> client as necessary is easy to set up). Of course all this javascript
> the downside that accessibility is hard to get right.

Well, if you have a Wizard with 6 steps done by AJAX, how do you explain 
to the user that he/she can't anymore use the web browser back/next 
button to navigate through the Wizard? Imagine you are at Wizard step 6, 
have filled in a ton of form fields and accidentally click the web 
browser back button, it will lead you somewhere, maybe to a resource you 
have visited before the Wizard resource. Does that sound as a logical 
browsing model which a user will ever understand?

Beside that, how many desktop applications do you know which don't use 
modal and modeless windows? I know many without a back/next button, but 
none without modal window support comes into my mind. Is the web browser 
damned to limit it to back/next only? Will the only alternative be Java 
Webstart, Microsofts XAML or Flash to get a desktop like user 
interaction model?


More information about the whatwg mailing list