Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Firefox and IE Both Fail at Positional Linking!

Since the earliest days of the web, coders have been able to use anchor tags to control link destination positioning. By setting up page anchors, we are able to link readers to an exact placement location within a destination webpage. Common usage might include a table of contents, or point users to an in-page chart or graphic. Or, as my friend Simon wants, to link to a paragraph location within a court decision.

Unfortunately, anchor usage has always had its limits. Unless we own or control the landing page, or a document was originally designed for anchor usage, those destination page markers are rarely in existence.
My Question:
Why haven't Firefox or Internet Explorer ever bothered to improve link destination positioning for webpages? It can be done with PDF, why not webpages?

My Solution:
I’d like to see FF or IE will come up with a software remedy that allowed page positioning for any link - perhaps expressed as a percentage of the page length. The link could go to “page.htm#%=95.6" to land at the 95.6% mark of the document’s length (or close to the end of the page). Browsers could then be upgraded to display this page positioning information within the status bar at the bottom of the browser.
To me, this type of context driven linking can only improve what the web offers. Perhaps the W3C should be involved here? At the very least, the big browser co's should be investigating this as a new feature.

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