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Browsers History, Back and Forward – Time To Enhance?

Ever since I know World Wide Web, and I believe ever since its very begin, browser’s history had been atomic, with one path or two-dimension if you prefer. While this concept is very simple and easy to understand, there are some cases where browsers could help us improving productivity.

What exactly am I talking about, and what is the problem?

Example: If you do a Google Search, enter one result and find only half the data you need, you’ll probably hit the back button to see the results again. If you enter another result and find the second half of what you need, if you hit Back again there is no way of going directly to the first page you visited.

Well, in fact there are three ways, Google highlight the viewed pages, which can be complicated if you needed to navigate the result pages; you can open each result link into a new window, which creates a lot of mess with windows and/or tabs; you can use the browser history which can get hard if you are visiting several pages at the same time.

How should it be then?

I do believe the browser should create a tree representing a path of the pages. This way when you hit the Back button and go back to the Google initial set of results, if you hit Forward once you will be directed to the last page you viewed, just like it does today, but if you list the Forward option you’ll see something like this:

Results 1
— Page A
— Page B
—- Page I
Results 2*
— Page A
— Page B*
—- Page I*
(* Those are the only ones that show with current browser’s behaviour, if you follow that path in order.)

This would create a much effective way of keeping navigation easy when you are doing some kind of research. It would also avoid the need to open Windows and Tabs all the way. It would make things more productive, without complicating to the normal user.

The browser’s History could use this data too. Either it could generate some graphs with the paths you took, or you could simply select one page and when it opened, the Back and Forward buttons were filled with the paths you used when you saw that page. Well, do I want to see all the paths I took when I’ve gone to www.google.com? No. This would just happen when you go to it using the History of the browser, because if you are going to History it means you which to see what you’ve done and what paths you took at that time.

Things could get complicated with javascript, because the current DOM do not support this kind of History, for that I suppose the current behaviour should stay, eventually the standard makers could improve the standard and all browsers should implement it.

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One Response to “Browsers History, Back and Forward – Time To Enhance?”

  1. hey alex!

    Here’s something interestingly funny (or sad, depending on how
    you look at it…) The original browser that OS/2 bundled, WebExplorer (screeny: http://seds.org/~spider/os2/os2work.html), was a bit weak on some points; it didn’t support tables and didn’t let
    you click on a link while a page was loading, for one. But it had one thing that no other browser had them or now: a history map.

    While you were surfing, it recorded every page you went to, just
    like current browsers too. The difference was, instead of displaying a simple list, history was displayed as a tree, or, more accurately, as a web. It was called the WebMap. This simple feature made
    me use it constantly over other more “modern” browsers for a long time, and I sorely miss it ever since I had to stop using it (and I’m not the only one to think that: see 1) 2) 3) )

    It’s been
    on my todo list for *years*, and I’ll bet on everyone else’s, too… only no one seems to be able to actually do the thing. So, this year is it, before it is over, there will be a webmap, one way
    or the other, or I’ll eat my hat. :p

    1) http://forums.worsethanfailure.com/forums/post/128406.aspx
    2) http://www.halfbakery.com/idea/Browser_20History_20Diagram
    3)
    http://www.mozillazine.org/talkback.html?article=3380

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