[thelist] Focus behaviour in browsers

Barney Carroll barney.carroll at gmail.com
Mon Feb 8 11:36:02 CST 2010

Hi guys,

I've always thought there should be a better way of implementing footnotes
on the internet. With a book, you can glance downwards and read the
expansion, or read through regardless, or start reading and then carry on
when they realise the content's not essential. In hypertext, either you
scroll to the bottom, preventing you from easily resuming the same
left-to-right sweep you were in the middle of in the page body, or you get
something tooltippy which intrudes on the layout. I've been trying to use
relatively simple methods to retrieve the elegance of solid media footnotes.

Currently I've got a method I'm kind of happy with here:

Problem is, without using the keyboard (in admittedly counter-intuitive
ways), the mouse user is dependant on hovering over the footnote's reference
in the body copy to get at the footer contents in most browsers.
Unexpectedly, IE gives the best results in terms of usability in that: you
can click on a footnote to keep it visible until focus is lost; you can hash
the id of the footnote and append it to the URL to have the footnote content
appear on page load. This is what I expected.

Opera allows click-to-focus, but Chrome and FF will only reveal the links by
means of hover or tab-navigation.

I've explicitly set bog-simple :focus{display:block} to cover the mechanism
I'm after, but it doesn't appear to be enough. Is there anything else I
might try, or will I have to resort to Javascript to get consistent
behaviour out of this?

Barney Carroll

barney.carroll at gmail.com
07594 506 381

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