[whatwg] modal and modeless windows

Ian Hickson ian at hixie.ch
Thu Apr 26 17:17:51 PDT 2007

On Sun, 26 Jun 2005, Karl Pongratz wrote:
> I had a short look at the webforms and web applications specification at 
> whatwg.org, I didn't find anything about modal and modeless windows. If 
> there is anything to improve for html, xhtml, xforms and compound 
> documents, then, in my opinion, the first missing feature that comes 
> into my mind is the lack of modal and modeless windows.

I've now added window.open(), irrelevant="", and target="" to the 
specification, which should provide various ways of obtaining the effect 
you're looking for. For example, with irrelevant="" you can hide the 
content you want to disable, and force the "modal" aspect of the 
application to be responded to before reshowing the other parts.

> [...] 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.

Notwithstanding the features that make this possible, I have to say that 
in general Web applications on the Web should not be written as if they 
are desktop applications. Many of the paradigms from desktop software 
either don't apply, or worse, apply poorly, to the Web. Modal dialogs are 
an example of this -- as a Web application author you should assume that 
the client and the server are independent, making the server provide an 
API that the client can interact with, regardless of which client is used 
(e.g. in could be a python script you didn't write); similarly, the client 
should assume that the server-side might do all kinds of things while it's 
running, e.g. changing the data from under it.

Thus, concepts like modal dialogs for editing no longer work; instead you 
have to use concepts like those of wikis and collaborative software, even 
in the single-user case.

Thanks for your input! Sorry it took so long for me to process it.

Ian Hickson               U+1047E                )\._.,--....,'``.    fL
http://ln.hixie.ch/       U+263A                /,   _.. \   _\  ;`._ ,.
Things that are impossible just take longer.   `._.-(,_..'--(,_..'`-.;.'

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