target_new window= good or bad?

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Hi, my boss has told me I need to put "target_new" for all external

I find this to be bothersome and contrary to current web trends. But I
can find no articles or recommendations to back me up here.

What do you guys think?

I have about 300 pages in a CMS that I need to change hyperlinks for,
and I'd like to be able to make a case for not having to do this (and
not merely because I'm lazy, but because I think it ruins the user

Robert Nagle
houston, Texas /

Re: target_new window= good or bad?

idiotprogrammer wrote:
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It feels like there aren't any recommendations on how to do with this, but
people does as they wish.

IMHO it depends much on the page from where the link is to what kind of page
it is the link points at. If you have some longer text where you make
references to other pages, I would use target=_new, this way you can continue
to read the article at the same time as you can take a hasty look at the
While if you have a link page, then I want to come to the page directly
without opening a new window/tab.



Re: target_new window= good or bad?

gosh, this is how long it's been since I've used it. It's

Re: target_new window= good or bad?

Scripsit idiotprogrammer:

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OK, then write <a href="..." target_new>...</a>.

Your clueless boss might have some additional wishes, though, when (s)he
sees the result. :-)

Jukka K. Korpela ("Yucca")

Re: target_new window= good or bad?

Oh, it's been a long day.

(I was thinking of some function call on my CMS which accomplished the
same thing).

Update: Looks like XHTML Strict 1.0 deprecated the target attribute
for <a>. that might be the ammunition I need.


Re: target_new window= good or bad?

idiotprogrammer wrote:

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HTML 4.0 deprecated it (in 1997). HTML 4.0 Strict didn't have it at all.
XHTML 1.0 is just HTML 4.01 ported to XML (along with a few undocumented

David Dorward       < <
                     Home is where the ~/.bashrc is

Re: target_new window= good or bad?

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No it didn't. It was in Transitional but not in Strict, which in terms
of validation makes it the same as everything that was deprecated, but
no spec has ever marked target as deprecated - they just either have
it or they don't.

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And the first edition of XHTML 1.1 didn't have it but the brand new
second edition does have it!

Such a murky history for a simple (yet far from harmless) attribute.

"My theories appal you, my heresies outrage you,
 I never answer letters and you don't like my tie."  - The Doctor

Re: target_new window= good or bad?

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You know I don't get it.  I REALLY don't mind links opening in new
browsers.  It's not something I thinking about.  Unrequested popups?
Yea, I don't like that, and block as many as I can.  But when I go to
a site that has has a new window policy it is usually pretty
consistent, and really no bother at all (to me).  I have much better
things to worry about than if something opens in the same window, a
new tab or a new window.  From personal experience, most people don't
even know (or care) the controversy exists.

And when I do care (like at thumbnail sites, wink wink...) I will
usually right click the thumb and tell it to open in a new tab

peace out.

Re: target_new window= good or bad?

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Argle. There is such a strong link between "being in Transitional but
not Strict" and "being deprecated" that its easy to get confused
(especially when the OP stated that it was deprecated in XHTML 1.0)

David Dorward

Re: target_new window= good or bad?

idiotprogrammer wrote:
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Gee, pretty much every "top mistakes of web design" has opening new
windows listed.


Re: target_new window= good or bad?

idiotprogrammer wrote:
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Users hate going through the routine of hitting the Back button to get
back to the previous page, finding out that it isn't working, then
realizing that they have a pop-up, and then closing it. Users hate
having to figure out, every time they do the same thing, which way it
has to be done this time. It's a nuisance. Does your boss find some
benefit in that?

Users hate pop-ups because they associate them with obnoxious
advertising tactics. Some have the habit of zooming to shut down any
window that they see popping up.

If the user doesn't close the new window but returns to the old window
by clicking on it, then clicks another external link, and goes through
this routine several more times, he'll have a whole bunch of open
windows on his page to clean up afterwards. Does your boss find some
benefit in that?

A user who *wants* to see a page in a new window can do so, using the
browser's built-in feature for that purpose. It's silly for your boss to
second-guess the user by deciding he'll want another window when the
link is to an external page and not when it's to an internal page.

Not every Web-enabled device has windows (cell phones. PDAs, etc). What
does your boss think happens when a user tries to pop up a new window on
a non-windowing device?

If you ever switch to XHTML, the target option isn't going to be
available anyway.

Re: target_new window= good or bad?

Gazing into my crystal ball I observed "idiotprogrammer"

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I have a boss just like yours.  As many times as I have told her what a
bad idea it is, she INSISTS.  She says that I'm too techy and that
ordinary people LIKE extra windows (so they can move them about and
compare things).  I HATE popups, new windows, etc.

What you CAN do, if you are unsuccessful at convincing your boss, is to
be sure and put something in the title attribute about how the link
opens in a new window.  At least visitors will be aware.  You can also
use javascript to open said window (so it will only work for js users):

//this nice javascript will open external links in a new window -
//usage <a href="somepage.html" rel="external">

function externalLinks() {
 if (!document.getElementsByTagName) return;
 var anchors = document.getElementsByTagName("a");
 for (var i=0; i<anchors.length; i++) {
   var anchor = anchors[i];
   if (anchor.getAttribute("href") &&
       anchor.getAttribute("rel") == "external")
     { = "new";
         anchor.title = anchor.title+" in a new window";}
          {anchor.title = anchor.title;}

Adrienne Boswell at Home
Arbpen Web Site Design Services
Please respond to the group so others can share

Re: target_new window= good or bad?

Adrienne Boswell werote:

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Fortunately I don't have a boss, just clients. And it it is quite easy to
choose clients:

Prospective Client: I want a popup window/flash/marquee/animated gif/fixed
width/unaccessable colours/flyspeck fonts/[choose your most unfavourite]:
Me: Here's the phone book, find another developer, HAND.

Re: target_new window= good or bad?

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And a developer that can not put principal in front of food will
gladly take the job and do it exactly as the client wants.

Re: target_new window= good or bad?

Travis Newbury wrote

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True. But...

then I will simply use the site that was built "exactly as the client wants"
as an example[1] to my next Prospective Client: this is how your competitor
has failed with her web site.

[1] The initial client interview

a) Look at the good things I can do for you
b) Google at your competitors to find out what they are doing wrong. Hint,
always change *dramatically* font size and canvas area.

Then again it's no skin off my nose when the PC walks. I don't exactly
*need* clients to put food on the table. I certainly don't need clients who
think they know more about web design than I do :-)

Re: target_new window= good or bad?

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This assumes you get in the door.  Remember, they just got the website
they wanted.  Why would they need to talk to you?  You told them you
wouldn't do it their way....

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Oh they don't, but they know what _they_ think is cool.  And would
everyone (the big boys) be doing it if it were bad?...
(That was a rhetorical question)

I am not saying it is right.  I am saying it is the real world.

Re: target_new window= good or bad?

Gazing into my crystal ball I observed "Travis Newbury"

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In defense of myself and my boss, who I really do admire quite a bit, I
have actually gone quite a way into convincing her of certain things:
1. Site has to be CSS driven
2. Site has to use semantic markup, no presentational markup
3. Site has to use DSNless connections
4. Site has to use clean coding
5. Site cannot use javascript for everything, only to enhance the users
experience.  If the script could impede a user, especially her, it's
6. Site has to use ems or percentages (this one was really hard -
because once I told her that IE could not change the size, she REALLY
wanted it)

Battles I have not won:
1. Not everyone has the same size screen she is using (and she KNOWS
this, but still thinks everyone is/wants to be like her)
2. No one wants to use the back button, they only want to use the little
x or click on the close button.  I brought up the fact that some devices
don't have "windows", but that did not deter her.  She says those
without windows will open a new window anyway!
3. No one has ever gotten confused with a new window.  This one is
particularly funny as she herself gets confused when a new window opens.  
But, then she is also the first one to close her existing window and
wonder what happened.
4. Everyone uses IE, or at least they should.  Microsoft is infallible
and even if they make a mistake, it's because they thought they made
5. Firefox, Safari and Opera are for geeks, and no one uses those
browsers.  Everyone surfs the same way she does, except me, but I am a
"techie", so I don't count.
6. Iframe? No problem - anything that can go in should - users are not
going to get confused and think that the Iframe content is ours, despite
the verbiage stating its not.

So, there are a few things that I have done.  As far as the screen size,
I have set everything in percentages - so it looks the same in my screen
(larger resolution) as it does in hers.  I have put an advisory in the
title attribute of anything that spawns new windows.  I can't win every
battle and still have a job - I seriously lost a key battle and was
fired, but came back after three years and a baby.  While I was gone,
someone came in a nearly everything was javascript (even plain hrefs),
and the markup was a mess of nested tables.  When I came back, I
announced that I was cleaning up the entire site - I did that, and now
we are getting good SERPs again.  There is still work to be done, and
convincing to be done.  There probably always will be.....
Adrienne Boswell at Home
Arbpen Web Site Design Services
Please respond to the group so others can share

Re: target_new window= good or bad?

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So do it. It's their call, it's not the worst design crime in the
world. Just do it competently and with a clear conscience.

There's a question as to whether you _should_ do this. You'll never
find consensus, but "evil popups" are much further away from "new
sites in new windows" then those are from no new windows at all. Don't
blame an attempt to encourage site-stickiness for the past sins of the
ad poppers.

If you do do it, then you have several points to check and a couple of
decisions to make.

You cannot do it validly with a Strict doctype, so you either have to
move to a doctype declaration that's both HTML 4.01 Transitional and
still gives you standards-mode rendering (not all declarations for
this doctype do so)
<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN" "http://" >
See also <

This is only worth doing if your pages were valid Strict before and
valid Transitional afterwards. Otherwise stick with HTML 4.01 Strict.

Note that this isn't an excuse to drop back to using <font>!  If they
were only valid as Transitional beforehand, then stay with Strict and
fix the markup before worrying about this. The web works (slightly)
better with minor invalidities than it works with valid obsolescences,
and it encourages progress.

Otherwise just accept the trivial invalidity this represents. You
might not want to do this if it's the difference between most pages
being perfectly valid and losing the useful ability to detect serious
invalidity for a page losing its clear valid status. It's CMS-
generated code, so you can usually control validity (and invalidities
from other sources) quite separately.

Stick a class="external-link" on your external <a>s too. You might use
it to control presentation, but it helps for content-management

You can use a name instead of _new. If you have lots of links to "the
same" external resource, and if usability supports this, then you can
give that group of related links their same name so that they share
and recycle a single window. This can help to reduce vast numbers of
surplus windows opening, but it also has its own risk of being
confusing as old windows "vanish".  Try it and see for yourself.

XHTML is an irrelevance to this issue.

Re: target_new window= good or bad?

On Tue, 20 Feb 2007 18:27:44 GMT idiotprogrammer scribed:

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Why don't you do what I did on my pages some years ago: give the user the
choice?  Javascript... "target = same|new".  It's pretty easy, uses minimal
code, and will probably satisfy your boss that you accept his/her command

He who laughs last sounds like an idiot.

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