Bookmarking is still a vague concept

I accidentally bumped into a W3C XForms mailing list posting by yours truly, sent back in January 2002 and strongly advocating the role of GET http method. I had no memory trace of posting something like that, but I still agree with many of the points.
Not just GET, but the message also talks about related ability to bookmark: Bookmarking is considered an essential tool for web browsing. But what is it really? Is it just storing the url for the current frame (as most browsers do it)? Or, as IE does for framesets, is it storing the frameset and the urls of pages within? For Mozilla and Firefox, you can also bookmark a group of tabs – essentially storing a few urls and their order in the tabs.
But it could be so much more: it could be about storing the position in-page, it could be about storing values of form fields, state of in-page script and external applets, cursor focus… Whatever. The bookmarking concept hasn't really evolved much since the first browsers. Meanwhile web applications have become massively complex, and any navigation help is even more necessary than it was before. If I think about the Finnish railway company's Internet ticket sales system, I certainly could use a bookmark pointing to a readily filled booking form with my basic information, usual route and so on. That's the kind of "state freeze" I'd love to see there.
As a web developer, I can easily come up with dozens of good reasons why implementing a broader concept of bookmarking is very impractical in the general case. Yet still, if it was possible for a web page to tell (via standardized markup) which elements of it are stable or relevant enough to have their contents bookmarked, considerably better implementations would be possible. And of course it would always be possible to fall back to a simpler bookmarking mechanism, ie. just the url of the current frame.
Those who think browser evolution is already at its peak couldn't be more wrong. Even fundamental concepts like bookmarks need a lot of innovation and dedication. It's great to have several serious browser projects going on again.

July 28, 2004 В· Jouni Heikniemi В· One Comment
Posted in: Web

One Response

  1. Anonymous Coward - March 29, 2005

    There's a lot of hand-waving going on in this post, but you haven't said if the onus is on the browser, the server, or (gasp!) HTML. It's sort of like saying that we should power everything with renewable resources. Without taking the effort to offer a solution, you're only adding to the pile of problems.

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