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2000-06-14 11:20:49+00 by Dan Lyke 8 comments

[retracted, see comments] Web Design: Definitely gotta disagree with Cam's June 14th entry and Zeldman (who, for being an alleged web design god, doesn't have a permanent URL for his current ramblings... ("hmmmmm", he pondered knowingly...)) on the TITLE attribute of anchor tags. The world is not an "Animated Story Book", we don't want to have to mouse-over (on those systems that have a mouse) links to see oh-so-clever additional text from the designer that should have gone in the original body anyway. The only excuse for TITLE attributes is if you've got a link-tracker that does munging, to give the user the original information again.

[ related topics: Religion Cameron Barrett Interactive Drama Web development Books Animation ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:30:05+00 by: baylink

Definitely gotta disagree with ya' there, Dan. :-) If all that text is *doing* is being clever, by all means, put it in a TITLE, where I can ignore it. :-) As for munging, I've learned the wonders of onMouseOver and onMouseOut. Interestingly enough, NS/Mac automatically reverses onMouseOver status line munging, even if you don't. NS/Win and, apparently, IE, don't.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:30:05+00 by: Dan Lyke

Okay, so I need to update my own HTML stuff to deal with onMouseOver and completely ignore TITLE. Either way, TITLE is completely antithetical to the usability of a markup language. But then, I'm just one of those tired old cynics who's pissed off 'cause the original promise of the web as a good library is gone.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:30:05+00 by: mattw

I reckon TITLE's cool because I get to grep my homepage archives when I'm looking for stuff, but still make annoying cryptic posts.

I know that html is really a markup language, but there isn't just one type of connection in hypertext. I like to be able to give context so people know whether they're going to supporting evidence or a source or a random picture. Ideally TITLE would contain more html with more links (a www 'unit' in its own right)... uh, but that's another story completely.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:30:05+00 by: camworld

I'm using the TITLE tags for strictly additional information. I think of it as secondary info petaining to a link, as opposed to primary information. For instance, the TITLE attribute for Flutterby.com in my list of sites on the left is "Has a comfortable couch." I can personally attest that this is true information. Dan really does have a comfortable couch.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:30:06+00 by: Dan Lyke

I guess that in that case the TITLE tag is really more for the web as an application than the web as information. Which is cool, I just think we're too long on the web as application and way short on the web as information. Personally, if I were gonna add attributes to the anchor tag I'd much rather be able to sling a list of alternative links for richer content than have another popup interface-defining feature.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:30:06+00 by: Dan Lyke

Ya know, after thinking about this a little longer I'm gonna have to retract large parts of the original statement. I started thinking about places in a deeply linked environment where further elucidation that told more about the link than could be derived from the URL was useful. Because my main page stuff gets scraped into RSS format I tend to be massively verbose in my links, but that's a function of my writing tools and often I'd like to be less so. Tags like "Reuters article titled 'xxx'" would be nice for some links where it just doesn't make sense to put all that text into the original prose.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:30:06+00 by: mattw

Tags like "Reuters article titled 'xxx'" would be nice for some links where it just doesn't make sense to put all that text into the original prose.

I think that's exactly the point. In a true hypertext I could anchor a link here and it wouldn't matter because the connection itself would give context. Www, being an incomplete hypertext, doesn't let us do that and we've had to develop a whole different way of writing to work the context into what we originally wanted to say. The popup isn't an ideal way of adding context, but if it's to be a list of references or a photo thumbnail or the latest stockprice I want a way to bookmark it and to switch focus between the popup & mainpage. It's a pipedream, I know. I'll try and write an article about it some day.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:30:06+00 by: Dan Lyke

It seems like the right way to use TITLE is have a 'bot that fills it in from the target document...