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Chrome removes backspace to go back
By Thom Holwerda on 2016-05-20 11:22:25

The reason we're making this change is that users regularly lose data because they hit the backspace button thinking that a form field is focused. After years of this issue, we realize we're not going to have a better way to solve that problem.

I absolutely hate this change. I deeply, deeply, deeply hate this change. This is a classic case of instead of addressing the core problem - web forms shouldn't lose their content when you navigate back and forth - you just try to hide it a little more by making navigation harder.

Emblematic of software development today, especially in operating systems: instead of fixing core problems, let's just add more layers to hide the ugliness. You see it everywhere - from still relying on an operating system written for timesharing machines with punchcards, to trying to hide broken, complicated and obtuse file system layouts behind "just use convoluted cloud storage".

People carrying around ugly battery packs just to get through a day of use on their devices running an outdated timesharing mainframe punchcard operating system from the '60s tells you all you need to know about the complete failure of modern software development - and this tiny little change in Chrome only underlines it.

Good software does not exist.

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What's so bad?
By Dryhte on 2016-05-20 11:27:51
Thom, I really don't understand your comment. I agree that webforms should not forget their content if you go back and forwards again, but I also HATE it when my browser goes 'back' when I hit the backspace button. Backspace is for (deleting) text entry, and just because you don't have a text field focused (accidentally), it shouldn't start working as a navigation button all of a sudden.
Permalink - Score: 37
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RE: What's so bad?
By Thom_Holwerda on 2016-05-20 11:29:48
> Thom, I really don't understand your comment. I agree that webforms should not forget their content if you go back and forwards again, but I also HATE it when my browser goes 'back' when I hit the backspace button. Backspace is for (deleting) text entry, and just because you don't have a text field focused (accidentally), it shouldn't start working as a navigation button all of a sudden.

Flawed argument. Tons of keys have double functionality - just look at tab or space.
Permalink - Score: 1
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Chrome meets 21st century
By sj87 on 2016-05-20 11:31:16
I always thought this was just a perk of the ancient and horribly broken Internet Explorer. Never would have expected that Chrome is just as broken. Backspace has nothing webpage navigation, so it also should have no effect on it. Spacebar skipping a screen worth of content down is equally stupid.

Edited 2016-05-20 11:32 UTC
Permalink - Score: 15
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RE[2]: What's so bad?
By Dryhte on 2016-05-20 11:35:37
Tab is sloppily executed in Chrome as well (there is no visual clue at all to what it does) and it should either be improved, or scrapped just the same.

Space just jumps around (down) on the page, that's stupid (we have PgDn for that) but not as drastic as navigating back.

Edited 2016-05-20 11:36 UTC
Permalink - Score: 7
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RE: What's so bad?
By apeman on 2016-05-20 11:40:31
Totally agree with you Dryhte. I do believe that this is a change for the better.

Browsers should never have been designed to use backspace as a navigation tool!

I'm curious if it ever meant 'go back' before web browsers.

I do agree that website should have better information persistence, but that is not going to happen across billions of sites. Much easier to fix in a browser.

I don't really want an alternative like the browser holding the information in a new cache. That would just be an exploit waiting to happen.

Good riddance to obtuse key functionality.
Permalink - Score: 6
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Well, uh...
By fuflo on 2016-05-20 11:59:49
You know what solves this issue for me? Customizable keyboard shortcuts. As in Vivaldi.

I absolutely despise the removal of customizability for the end user.
You can implement the defaults for the masses, but allow me, as a power user, to do things my way - the way i like or am used to.
Permalink - Score: 8
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Finally!
By darknexus on 2016-05-20 12:02:44
This is as it should be. Thom, perhaps not being a keyboard centric user and probably having little knowledge of accessibility concerns as a result of this, you don't understand just how bad it can be when a form field appears to be focused and isn't. This is a change that every browser should make, and a change I regularly configure for myself in all browsers I use when possible. Just because it doesn't happen to you doesn't mean it's not a problem. You still have other keyboard shortcuts to go back (command-[ on OS X and alt-left arrow on all other platforms) so you're not out a keyboard command.
Permalink - Score: 11
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Settings?
By Savior on 2016-05-20 12:11:40
Whatever one thinks about using backspace to go back (I, for one, couldn't live without it), why not just make it optional? In Firefox, which removed this functionality ages ago, it can be restored in about:config. Why not do something similar here?

As for the rant: one could argue that removing an obscure functionality of a button could actually mean "fixing" an old "bug"...
Permalink - Score: 5
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RE[2]: What's so bad?
By ahferroin7 on 2016-05-20 12:23:57
The original meaning of the backspace was to go back one character on the line without deleting it, so that you could over-type to get accented characters (that's where the ~ and ` on the keyboard came from), while the delete key was used to actually delete the character under the cursor (which is why it deletes stuff to the right of the vertical line cursor in languages with a LTR text order). Both have changed in meaning in graphical applications multiple times (and it doesn't help that different OSes have reported different keycodes to userspace over the years for these two keys).

Now, as far as browser key-bindings, they should have been customizable from the beginning, period. This whole issue is perpetuated by people like Microsoft who insist on UI consistency over user experience (Windows is the only major commercial OS today where you can't rebind almost any key combination to do whatever the hell you want). This is actually part of the reason I avoid a GUI if at all possible, on the command line you almost always can customize your keybindings (and most things have an option for vi-like keybindings, which I prefer anyway)
Permalink - Score: 3
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Thom doesn't understand software engineering
By lucas_maximus on 2016-05-20 12:25:29
http://www.joelonsoftware.com/ar...

> When you throw away code and start from scratch, you are throwing away all that knowledge. All those collected bug fixes. Years of programming work.

There is a reason why Fortran and other ancient languages are still in use everywhere, the code works and it is extremely well debugged.

To rewrite much of what already exists would provide almost zero benefit and will waste hundreds of man hours in developer time.
Permalink - Score: 7

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