Kay lives here

working with the web

Annoying blog trait: please stop trying to hijack the browser window

When compiling my “week in ColdFusion” blog posts for SitePoint, I sometimes come across JavaScript “frame-busting” scripts that drive me around the bend. Let me explain…

After a long time as a FeedDemon user, I switched to Google Reader. Much as I love FeedDemon’s smart interface, I found more and more that I needed all my browser-based toys (extensions, social bookmarking tools, etc) close by. Grabbing links that I had flagged in FeedDemon to open in Firefox was slowing me down. I subscribe to over 200 feeds, so getting through them all quickly is important.

Google Reader is great, and with the Better GReader Firefox extension it’s even better (haw haw). I’m particularly a fan of the Preview button the extension adds, which lets you open the full page inline in Google reader. It’s great when working with partial feeds, like those delivered by Fullasagoog and MXNA – I can quickly check out the full post without leaving the comfort of Google Reader.

But there’s one annoying and rude “feature” of some blogs that is causing me grief – JavaScript which, on page load, checks if the site is being framed by another, and if so, busts it out into the full window. This is annoying because when I use the preview function in Google Reader, sites with this script replace my current Google Reader window with the full site in question and I lose my place in what I was doing.

I can understand why people don’t want their content being framed by another site – but people, it’s 2008, you make the content in your feeds freely available and it gets repurposed in so many ways it’s not funny. Trying to control how a site is viewed is rude and pushy, as far as I’m concerned, and it’s making it hard for me to bookmark, Digg or otherwise share the content, which is to the site’s detriment. It goes against the open and flexible nature of the semantic web.

I do acknowledge this is partially a browser issue – my browser should stop rogue sites from misbehaving in ways I don’t like. Unfortunately neither Firefox 2 nor 3 offer this level of control, the Preview Greasemonkey script does not yet include this functionality (although it has been suggested) and using a JavaScript blacklist extension like YesScript on just offending sites stops my bookmarklet tools from working on these sites as well, which really defeats the purpose.

So let’s all share the love and drop the 1999-style frame-busting scripts. How about it?