February 24, 2003

Built For Navigation

Playing around with the <link> tag. When I first started up the new Opera 7 browser, I noticed an extra little bar near the top that said things like “Next”, “Previous”, “Home”, and so on. It slowly sunk in what I was seeing. Finally, somebody was properly implementing the <link> tag!

<link&gt is such a nice little tag. Everyone knows it as the way to link to a stylesheet, but it’s so much more than that. It has at least dozen different attributes you can give it that explain how the document is connected to others. You can specify a home page, the next and previous pages in a series, a page about the author, and so on. And the browser is supposed to be able to read those links and give the user a standard way to use them for navigtion. It’s more precise than just relying on the “Back” button, but you don’t have to go so far as to build HTML navigation for something as basic as flipping through pages. It’s the perfect compromise for a simple nav. But nobody’s ever used it.

I’ve always wondered why <link> was so ignored in the early days of the Internet rush. I guess it just made more sense to put all your links on the page itself, and not give a second thought to meta information. Of course, given the shady history of tag soup, that’s not a big surprise. Only a few <head> elements were really important. <title>, since everybody could see that one, and some of the <meta> variations, especially the ones that search engines looked at. The rest were unimportant. And so the browser makers never built in any kind of UI for <link> because nobody was asking for it, and nobody was asking for it because they didn’t know about it. So yay for Opera to add it in there.

Then I researched it, and found out Mozilla has supported it pretty much forever. Oops.

That’s what I get for sleeping in class. I guess I never found it because it’s buried so deeply in Mozilla. View > Show/Hide > Site Navigation Bar. In Opera, it’s right there under View, and it’s even turned on by default. In IE – um – well, it’s not there yet. But it’s a nice little easter egg for everyone else.

Anyway, in an attempt to make myself look more cool and elite than I actually am, I’ve worked <link> tags into my site. I’ll be stuffing them in wherever they seem to make sense. I’ve especially dirtied up my Ormsby House Renovation Gallery with them. So hang your IE up in the coat closet, grab a nice cold Mozilla or Opera browser, and look for the links.

Filed under The Computer Vet Weblog

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  1. Bertil Wennergren says:

    Mozilla hasn't supported the link element forever, but indeed for some time. But Lynx has had this support for many years. Yay for Lynx!

    Posted February 25, 2003 @ 5:22 pm

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