A tricky situation in malone bug 60995

Matthew Paul Thomas mpt at canonical.com
Sat Oct 20 23:53:00 UTC 2007

On Oct 21, 2007, at 9:03 PM, Martin Olsson wrote:
> Nicolas Alvarez wrote:
>> It's the wrong way to fix it. You can lose data by clicking enter
>> while a link is focused too, should we disable the enter key? The
>> right solution has been mentioned multiple times in multiple places:
>> prompt "Are you sure you want to change page and lose what you typed?"

A confirmation alert is usually the worst possible solution to any 
design problem. People treat it as an interruption rather than as a 
serious question. (Some horrid Web sites already do this, with 
JavaScript alerts of the form "Are you sure you want to navigate away 
from this page?")

There are two general solutions to the problem of something dangerous 
being too easy to do: make it less dangerous, or make it harder to do.

Unfortunately, making accidentally going Back less dangerous is not 
practical in this case:
> ...
> 1. surf to cnn.com
> 2. surf to google.com
> 3. enter search query "hello"
> 4. press the BACK button in the browser
> 5. press the FORWARD button in the browser
> Voilá your search query is still there intact: no data loss! Maybe this
> was a big problem in previous versions of Firefox but right now, the
> data loss argument is running very short.
> ...
There is no dataloss for Web sites that allow caching, but there is 
dataloss for sites that use HTTPS, such as wiki.ubuntu.com. Firefox 
could fix this problem by caching HTTPS pages, but if it did that, the 
maintainers of online banking sites would freak out and start blocking 
Firefox, which would cause Firefox to lose market share. (Mozilla has 
been through this before: trying to educate banks about using HTTP 
caching headers properly was not a solution that scaled.)

Which leaves us with the other option: making accidentally going back 
harder to do. Alt+Left instead of Backspace achieves this, but it seems 
to be *too much* harder for some people.

One alternative would be to make "[" the shortcut key for Back. It 
would still be possible to press it by accident when no text field was 
focused, but much *less likely* than pressing Backspace by accident in 
the same situation. And it would have another benefit that Backspace 
does not have: an obvious counterpart key for Forward, "]".

Matthew Paul Thomas
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