[whatwg] Target Attribute Values

Bill Mason whatwg at accessibleinter.net
Fri Apr 27 22:29:22 PDT 2007

Ian Hickson wrote:
> On Thu, 26 Apr 2007, Lachlan Hunt wrote:
>> I've argued my socks off trying to convince authors that they should 
>> leave opening new windows to users, but there are an awful lot of them 
>> who for various reasons insists on doing just that.
> It would be interesting to hear the needs of these authors. Can anyone 
> elaborate? We might well need to re-allow it in the end, I'm curious to 
> hear why people use it.

I can tell you my experience at the company I'm currently working for,
as to why they mandate using "_blank" in some circumstances.
(Disclaimer: I don't endorse the policy, I just have to live with it.)

The area I work in is with the company's ASP division. We host
(primarily) online application forms for colleges.  They give us their
paper form, and we build them an online form using the look of their web
site, build supplemental instructions pages, etc.  [1]

When we build the form/pages to the look in question, the mandate is
always that links that leave our domain (which primarily means the links
in the school's surrounding navigation back to various pages on the
school's site) are always given a _blank target to open in a new window.

The reasons we (the team of web developers) are given for this are
twofold: [2]

1) Fear that the user will follow some link away from our pages, and
never return to complete the form.  (I think this comes from sales
and/or marketing personnel.)

2) Complaints from users who would follow the surrounding links
elsewhere and then lose their way back to the application form.  (This
would primarily occur when they started the application form -- which is
typically multiple pages -- and go off following some other link to find
some piece of information about the application process, finally losing
their way to how they got into the form in the first place.)

In both cases, I have no idea why the back button isn't enough for
everyone involved, or how people got lost in spite of having a back button.

Anyway, I recount all this not because I think it argues for keeping
_blank, but just to offer an example from "real life" about its use.

[1] Example: http://www.applyweb.com/apply/oxyt/
[2] As I recall them, anyway.  This discussion hasn't been had
internally for awhile because we in web development are simply not going
to win the argument with the higher powers to not _blank every external

Bill Mason
Accessible Internet
whatwg at accessibleinter.net

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