Web browser features

blech and I have been talking recently about things that web browsers really should do. We both get annoyed when browsers won’t save the state of opened windows (pith helps here for our web browser of choice, but that’s not the point. It should be app-level – Galeon was superb in this respect.), but there’s other, smaller, things that browsers could do to help people.

For a start, they need to understand the concept of a ‘dirty’ (changed/unsaved state) window, and prompt the user if they try to close it, in the same way that you can’t just close a changed document. Changing data in a form makes a window dirty. A page that’s the result of a POST request is dirty. In short, if I’m looking at state that can’t be retrieved from a bookmark of the current page, the window is dirty.

Form field contents should be remembered completely. Safari is very good about this already, and does some clever tricks somewhere to figure out which forms expect, say, my email address, and fill it in automatically. IE does this too, and it’s a good start. But I’d prefer every form I ever fill in to have it’s state remembered by the browser. I want to bookmark a page with filled-in forms, and have them stored in the bookmark. And I want to hit ‘back’ and have the forms still filled in with whatever I left in them. The number of times I’ve put something long and complicated into a webmail client, hit ‘send’, seen a timeout error, and lost what I was writing forever… I have the habit of putting the contents of big Textareas into the clipboard before hitting the submit button. This isn’t the habit of a man with working technology.

2lmc , as always, have an opinion on this, which is what sparked this ramble off.