[whatwg] Current status of hyperlink authoring (a.k.a. the ping attribute) and some suggestions

Ronny Orbach r at ronnyo.com
Sun Apr 24 05:02:42 PDT 2011

Hey there,
I've researched hyperlink authoring (http://bit.ly/pingspec), which
IMO is a great feature, and it looks like the only browser which
implements it today is Chrome - Check out http://bit.ly/chromeping and
try for yourself: http://bit.ly/pingfiddle .
Not sure why implementation and buzz around this are so minor and why
it seems stuck 6 years after proposal, but I have some suggestions to
make which will hopefully help make some progress.

- This feature *must* come with a standard means of feature-detection.
The reason link gateways became popular is that they're bulletproof -
no one can bypass the ping. If authors can't be sure ping will work,
they won't use it. However, regular feature-detection or UA sniffing
won't suffice because the user can disable the feature*. So ideally,
we could have a boolean property like Navigator.features.ping, so we
could do if(!Navigator.features.ping) runPingShim().

On a side note, having a Navigator.features object for similar
user-pref-controlled features might be useful in more cases.

- I believe the following paragraph should be either removed or
changed to use *may*: "When the ping attribute is present, user agents
should clearly indicate to the user that following the hyperlink will
also cause secondary requests to be sent in the background, possibly
including listing the actual target URLs." No one will use a
ping-system which freaks out users and tells them they're being

What do you think?

* Anyway, I can't think of a decent way to feature-detect this. Having
the attribute on the node doesn't reveal support. So what, we should
actually ping a test domain and set a cookie from it? Too slow and
painful for that server. Any idea is appreciated.

  Ronny Orbach
  Front End Developer

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