[whatwg] Proposal: target="_reference"

Matthew Paul Thomas mpt at myrealbox.com
Sun May 4 14:45:12 PDT 2008

On Apr 28, 2008, at 9:51 PM, fantasai wrote:
> Křištof Želechovski wrote:
>> How about target="_guide" instead?  A reference is usually lengthy 
>> and unreadable; the designer should know better than to treat the 
>> poor user with a reference.
> Or _notification. Most of what Matthew wants to use it for seems to be
> notifications.

I don't intend target="_reference" for notifications; that would be 
quite inappropriate. Firstly, a notification should appear unbidden, 
but if an author tried to use target="_reference" in that way, the 
popup blockers in legacy browsers would ensure it never appeared. 
Secondly, a notification is typically something you read once and then 
ignore, so it doesn't matter if it scrolls out of view, while part of 
the point of target="_reference" is to ensure the resource *doesn't* 
scroll out of view. And thirdly, it usually makes little sense for a 
notification to have a separate URL, but this is much more useful for 
help, terms of service, privacy policies etc.

I intend target="_reference" for the purposes I actually described: 
help, terms of service, privacy policies, and (eventually) footnotes 
and endnotes. I chose "_reference" because that term roughly covers all 
those use cases. But if the name is confusing, which it may be, I'd be 
happy for it to be "_secondary" or something similarly non-specific.

> How are you supposed to figure out the size of this thing? If it's
> for footnotes and TOS and errors and help and what's-this all at
> once..
> ...

target="_reference" would be inappropriate for presenting errors, for 
much the same reasons as it would be inappropriate for presenting 

The exact presentation is up to the UA, of course, but I imagine a 
resizable pane at the bottom of the viewport, defaulting to about a 
quarter of the viewport height or about 12 em, whichever is smaller. 
(Ideally it would be sized based on the actual height of the linked 
resource, but that's impractical: impractical for internal fragments 
because you usually can't tell where the fragment ends, and impractical 
for external resources because -- just as with target="_blank" -- 
responsiveness would require showing the pane before the resource 
finishes loading.)

Matthew Paul Thomas

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