skip to main page content CETIS: Click here to return to the homepage
the centre for educational technology interoperability standards

skip over the long navigation bar
Home
News
Features
Events
Forums
Reference
Briefings
Press centre

Inside Cetis
what is Cetis?
Contact us
Cetis staff
Jobs at CETIS


 




Syndication
XML: Click here to get the news as an RSS XML file XML: Click here to get the news as an Atom XML file iCAL: Click here to get the events as an iCalendar file

Background
what are learning technology standards?
who's involved?
who's doing what?

CETIS Groups
what are cetis groups?
what difference can they make?
Assessment SIG
Educational Content SIG
Enterprise SIG
Metadata SIG
Life Long Learning Group
Portfolio SIG
Accessibility Group
Pedagogy Forum
Developer's forum

Subjects
Accessibility (310)
Assessment (74)
Content (283)
Metadata (195)
Pedagogy (34)
Profile (138)
Tools (197)
For Developers (569)
For Educators (344)
For Managers (339)
For Members (584)
SCORM (118)
AICC (18)
CEN (34)
DCMI (36)
EML (47)
IEEE (79)
IMS (302)
ISO (21)
OAI (24)
OKI (20)
PROMETEUS (12)
W3C (37)

print this article (opens in new window) view printer-friendly version (opens in new window)

Frames to be sorted

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has released a first public working draft spec for XFrames, an XML replacement for HTML 4.x frameset. It is primarily designed to address the useability issues that many developers and users associate with HTML frames.

Framesets are widely used as devices to separate content from navigation in virtual learning environments (VLEs). It works, but not perfectly: framesets are hard to bookmark, users get trapped in framesets by following links to the wider web and hitting 'reload', 'back', 'page up' and 'page down' can give unexpected results. Also, because few people make use of the NOFRAMES tag, browsers that don't support frames (e.g. search engine spiders and screen readers) get in trouble. This means that documents that are intended as parts of framesets often end up orphaned when found by search engines, for example. To top it all off, the fact that the origins of individual frames in a set are not obvious to the user can lead to security issues.

The new draft spec intends to address these shortcomings by including references to the frames that make up a frameset in its URI. Essentially, frames with content need to be given an id and a source for that id in the URI. For a frameset with three frames, that could look like this:

http://www.example.org/home.xfm#frames(a=one.xhtml,b=two.xhtml,c=three.xhtml)

If the id for one of these frames is not given in the URI, either the frame remains empty, or a default that is coded in the frameset document is loaded. If you click on a link inside a frame, the link target gets associated to the frame, and the whole set reloads. Consequently, a bookmark would always point to the same set of frames.

Other improvements include greater flexibility in the way frames are represented. The default is tabs, but the spec directly supports the familiar rows and columns structure. Using CSS, almost any other representation structure can be specified, including movable windows and the like.

Since XFrames is a W3C first public draft, it is unlikely that these goodies will show up in a VLE any time soon. Once the spec will be fully hashed out and supported by the popular browsers, however, it should give VLE developers a good tool to improve useability.

Go to the W3C XFrames working draft for more details.

Related items:

Comments:

No responses have been posted

copyright cetis.ac.uk
Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

syndication |publisher's statement |contact us |privacy policy

 go to start of page content