iOS Development

Linking to textual content fragments in internet pages – Ole Begemann

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Textual content fragments are a manner for internet hyperlinks to specify a phrase or phrase a browser ought to spotlight on the vacation spot web page. Google Chrome added help for them in model 80 (launched in February 2020).

For instance, opening the hyperlink oleb.internet/2020/swift-docker-linux/#:~:textual content=working,container in Chrome ought to spotlight the primary heading of the article:


Screenshot of Chromium highlighting a text fragment
Chromium highlighting the textual content fragment specified within the URL.

The plain use case is engines like google: whenever you click on a hyperlink in a search consequence, the browser would robotically spotlight your search time period(s) on the vacation spot web page.

I’ve at all times needed this characteristic. I usually discover myself visiting a web page from a search engine, solely to instantly hit Cmd+F and re-type my search question into the browser’s Discover on Web page textual content subject. Evidently, it is a ache on cellular gadgets with no correct keyboard.

However textual content fragments produce other makes use of past engines like google:

  1. Linking to a specific sentence or paragraph of a protracted doc. I’d use this on a regular basis when linking to API documentation or discussion board posts. “Regular” URL fragments solely work for anchors the creator of the vacation spot web page created upfront, and readers often can’t see what anchor tags can be found on a web page.

  2. Sharing a selected portion of a web page. Browsers may facilitate this by providing to incorporate a textual content fragment within the URL when sharing a hyperlink to a textual content choice.

Right here’s the pattern URL from above as soon as extra:


https://oleb.internet/2020/swift-docker-linux/#:~:textual content=working,container

This half is the textual content fragment:


#:~:textual content=working,container

This fragment finds the primary point out of “working” (case-insensitive) on the web page and highlights all the things from that time till it finds “container”. There are a couple of extra variants of the syntax. Learn the textual content fragments draft spec for particulars.

Search phrases might include delicate info that customers don’t wish to share with the vacation spot server. For good purpose, engines like google stopped reporting the consumer’s search phrases within the referer header a very long time in the past as a part of the widespread transfer to HTTPS. It will be unhealthy if a brand new characteristic reintroduced this outdated knowledge leak.

The spec considers this difficulty. Textual content fragments are designed to be purely a browser-level characteristic — they’re not uncovered to JavaScript code. This screenshot demonstrates that doc.location.hash is clean as a result of Chromium stripped the textual content fragment away:


Screenshot of the JavaScript console in Chromium demonstrating that the destination page can’t see the text fragment
JavaScript code working within the vacation spot web page can’t see the textual content fragment.

I feel this the appropriate habits, however the spec authors appear to be contemplating altering it again as a result of it might constrain some reliable use instances and since JavaScript can already decide what parts of a web page a consumer is studying by monitoring the viewport rect. I don’t know — exposing a delicate search time period appears extra invasive to me than the scroll place.

It’s price noting that the privateness concern exists for browsers that don’t help textual content fragments: they are going to deal with the gibberish as a standard URL fragment, which might simply be parsed with a little bit of JavaScript.

As a precaution, engines like google and comparable websites ought to in all probability solely embrace textual content fragments of their hyperlinks if the consumer’s browser helps the characteristic (window.location.fragmentDirective).

Chrome is at present the one browser with textual content fragment help. From what I’ve learn, the WebKit and Firefox groups are typically supportive of the thought however have some reservations about particular design selections.

I hope this or one thing prefer it turns into extensively supported within the close to future.

Replace June 22, 2020: I uncared for to say fragmentations, an IndieWeb initiative that goals to resolve the identical drawback and is at the least six years outdated. This characteristic makes use of regular URL fragments and client-side JavaScript to search out the matching textual content on the vacation spot web page (which is just essential as a result of there’s no native browser help, in fact).

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