[MUD-Dev] META: Web site backgrounds and readability

Caliban Tiresias Darklock caliban at darklock.com
Tue Apr 14 21:09:39 New Zealand Standard Time 1998

On 05:25 PM 4/14/98 +0000, I personally witnessed Vadim Tkachenko jumping
up to say:
>Bug you may want to keep in mind: Netscape/Linux, starting with 4.03,
>doesn't react if you try to scroll the frames with a keyboard - only
>Framed sites became a living hell after that...

Well, it's not documented, but... the problem is likely to be a minor
implementation screwup. The default focus for the page is the top level
window, which having frames in it DOES NOT SCROLL. However, if you hit the
TAB key, you'll see a subtle change in the border of one frame (generally
the first one defined in the FRAMESET tag); this window can then be
scrolled with the keyboard. Continuing to hit the TAB key and/or Shift-TAB
will move among the frames. The top level window is still a tab stop, so if
there are three frames, you can tab to four separate windows -- one of
which you can't directly affect. Framesets within framesets are even worse,
as they have their own top-level windows which introduce further windows to
focus on. And of course, the TAB stops at each individual place on the
current page that is a link... it suddenly occurs to me that Control-TAB
may work for direct window to window movement. The TAB functionality is a
sort of crappy halfassed nod to the complaints of blind or otherwise
disabled users who can't use a mouse to point at what they want to
manipulate; it still doesn't help much, and the best option for blind web
surfers is still to use Lynx on a text-based terminal with a screen reader.
(IBM's WebExplorer under OS/2, however, does a better job of it on a GUI
system than any other tool I've seen yet.)

ml is a good place to test this. Starting from the URL box, you highlight
the image on the top frame, then each of the links on the imagemap, then
the next image, all the links on that imagemap, then the links along the
sidebar, and then you get to one of the links in the main frame (ECMA is
the link text) at which point you can scroll the frame with the keyboard.

Pain in the ass? Hell yes, but if you have no choice and have to use the
keyboard, it's worth knowing. This has only been tested under Win95, but I
expect that the case is similar for other platforms. I still say the RIGHT
focus for the initial load of a framed site is whatever frame is the
*largest*, and I have already informed Netscape of this opinion.
Repeatedly. At each point release.

Okay, so I spend too much goddamn time online and playing with web
browsers. But I'm a web developer, so I have an excuse. ;)

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