Technical Topics for ENGL 382, Fall 2012

1. Four Major Browsers and Development Tools

The HREF link. An element, usually an A(nchor), with an HREF attribute can trigger quite a range of events:

  1. can load contents of another page into the current window. The 'classic' hypertext link, often described as 'jumping' or 'going to' the other page/site. or,,

  2. it, with the attribute target=_blank could make the browser open another window and load the other page into it. In the worst of the bad old days, the new window opened just on top of the first window, partially or almost fully covering it.

  3. it, with some Javascript (the good old window.open script triggered by an onLoad event) could cause the browser to open a new window with a specified size and location; this avoided the problem of creating a stack of windows obscuring other windows. This is the origin of the 'pop-up' which was widely abused and to some degree still is, especially since javascript could be used to open a secondary window that popped up without any clicking from the user. (Browsers now prevent this by default – hence the little query lines asking you if you will allow the site to open popup windows.) The worst of these abuses was to use the Javascript to cover the whole canvas with the window (the 'F11' effect).

    However, note well that the window.open bit of javascript will reliably open a secondary window in any browser regardless of the preferences (as long as javascriptis enabled).

  4. About a decade ago, Firefox added 'tabbing', which allowed links with target=_blank to trigger loading of the new page into a 'tab' indicated at the top of the browser window, and gave the option to open the tab in the viewing window (e. g., change the browser's focus to the tabbed window). Today, link-opening is controlled mostly by the right mouse button, which gives the options of opening in a new tab or a new window. Regardless of the setting in Preferences or Options or what have you, right clicking on a link will give you the option of opening the link in a new tab or a new window, and Firefox allows you to set focus preference when you do open in a tab. Finally, Chrome allows you to drag a tab off as a separate window (or tuck a separate window into the tab bar as a tab.) BTW: you can drag a link from a page displayed in Chrome to the Firefox tab line and it will open as a tab in Firefox.

  5. it can load a section earlier or later on in the same document. In this case, it targets an element with a specific id assigned to it and scrolls the document so that the target identified element is at the top of the window, or is at least visible. By convention, these links do not open different tabs or windows, since they are parts of the document being viewed.

  6. ☛ The Back operation does not work in new windows or tabs, because it references a 'history' object for the window and tab and these, being new, have no history before this very instance of their creation.

  7. Because of the complexity of the situation just outlined, drop-down or accordion panels have become very popular. The HREF link in this case triggers a bit of Javascript that makes visible an extra chunk of text (or image) immediately following the link (usually called [more])

  • Flexible and Fluid Layout
  • Responsive Web Design [Also Advanced Topic]