Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Please Don't Break Tabbed Browsing and Browsing History!

Tabbed browsing or the ability to browse websites in multiple tabs at the same time is now an acquired benefit. Yet, it can be broken if ill-designed websites just try to mess with it.

Basically, when you click a link, the address of the link gets copied into the address bar of the browser and you access that address. If you open the link in a new tab (middle button on the mouse, usually), the address gets copied to the address bar of the new tab. Pretty simple, huh?

But some sites try to add scripts that tell your browser where to go when the link is clicked, instead of just doing the normal way. So, they mess with the regular work of the browser. Three kinds of bugs can then be encountered:
  1. The link opens both in the current tab and the new tab.
  2. The new tab opens but the linked page doesn't show in it.
  3. The browsing history gets broken, preventing you from correctly returning to the previous page.
So, here is my point:

Just let users open what they want where they see fit.

Viadeo, a French kind of LinkedIn, is doing it. If you middle-click a link, it will open both in the current tab and in the new tab. Thank you developers! Let me add that this is particularly inadvisable for a social network, where the most valuable users are very experienced and open dozens of tabs at once.