Modern Browsing

Hey guys, there's a new feature out in browsers. It's called tabbed browsing. Oh? It's been around for a while? Then why are you still developing like it doesn't exist?

Traditionally, users browsed the web one page at a time due to the restraints of browsers and their connection. These days, power users will open up multiple tabs, often from the same website, allowing them to explore a greater amount of the web than they could by clicking through one page at a time.

Often, though, it seems like web developers are unaware of this fact. Flash sites are right out, since Flash is not controlled by the browser, as are Flash menus. You shouldn't have a menu made in Flash anyway, it's a stupid idea, and Flash sites should only be employed when DHTML cannot achieve the same effect.

Further, cookies and sessions can be confused by tabbed browsing. I've encountered quite a lot of dynamic breadcrumb setups on the web that will allow something like "Home > Products > Contact" because the user is browsing the site in multiple tabs.

Finally, javascript. If the content of the page changes due to javascript, it's still possible to allow for multiple tab users. In a URL, there can be a section at the end preceded by a #, this section is visible only to the browser, and can be used to store javascript specific data.

For example, if your page loads up older content through javascript when the user clicks the "older content" button, you could add "#older" to the end of the URL. Then when the page gets loaded, you check if #older is in the URL and immediately load up the older content. This way, when the user changes to the older content tab, they won't end up with the exact same page they were already on.

Oh, and for goodness sake, don't use <a href="javascript:whatever"> tags, nobody wants to go to another tab and wind up with a blank page with some javascript in the URL. That's worse than going to another tab and ending up on the same page.