No more target="_blank"

Firefox 1.0 with all its hype is here. Without going into musings about browser markets, let me pick up a single feature that's relatively new in the Firefox family. Go into the advanced configuration in about:config and switch the property called browser.tabs.showSingleWindowModePrefs to true. Now open the Tools/Options/Advanced dialog, and see what you've got:
Now this is what I call fun. Using target="_blank" is a serious pain. If I want something to open in a new window, I will most certainly shift-click or wheel-click myself. I can understand why web authors want to make the choice for me (or more exactly, for the basic user), but it's really irritating. No more: the "Force links that open in new windows to open in a new tab" alternative is exactly what I've always done manually.
Not to bash IE at all, small configurability details like this really make the difference. They tune the experience to my tastes, they make using the browser more natural. While MSFT Australia director Steve Vamos is correct when pointing out "I don't agree that just because a (competing) product has a feature that we don't have, that feature is important" (see the full Cnet article), it's also a question of a feeling. With IE, your customization abilities are fairly limited. The Mozilla family of browsers represents a totally different feeling, and the open source image is just one part of it. For IE development, that's not really a challenge of picking the correct features – that's a much broader challenge for UI design. I hope Microsoft is forced to respond soon – both Microsoft and Mozilla camps could use it.
Cripes, I didn't manage to stick to just presenting the feature. Oh well. :-)

November 13, 2004 В· Jouni Heikniemi В· 3 Comments
Posted in: Web

3 Responses

  1. clx - May 26, 2006

    No more target="_blank" you say…imagine that my company creates web-based applications – huge in size – for logistics companyes…To make the choise for the user is important: some don't know, some don't care, some don't have time for this, and all users do the inevitable: get stalked in details like this one here. If you create something for yourself, go ahead: make it as you want; for the common user, make it as straight as possible; make sure he gets to the target in 99.99% of the existing ways of operation the browser.

  2. Richard Bourke - July 27, 2006

    I second the use of target="_blank".
    We implemented without it for a large goverment site and it came back as a high-priority production bug almost immediately.
    So if you are ever involved in large corporate or government sites then target="blank" is indeed you friend :-)

  3. phil smears - January 31, 2007

    "So if you are ever involved in large corporate or government sites then target="_blank" is indeed you friend :-)"
    Strange to say that as sites have to be AA compliant and opening up new windows without informing user would preclude that.