Dear LazyWeb: has the ability to change the mouse-over status-area text on links fallen out of favor in recent browsers?
      <a href="..." onMouseover="window.status='FOO'; return true">
seems not to work in recent versions of Safari and Firefox. TITLE="..." gives you a tooltip, but I hate those. Is there some still-in-favor way to put text in the status area, or have the spammers ruined it for everyone?
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42 Responses:

  1. silnith says:

    Spammers have ruined it for everyone. I and pretty much everyone I know simply disable this ability in our browsers.

    Besides, one should never hide the destination of a link from the user.

    • jwz says:

      The mouse-over text I was using on the images on the top level DNA Lounge page (names of bands pictured) was far more useful and interesting than the text in the URLs (dates and photo index numbers).

      • silnith says:

        If it is useful and/or interesting information, then it should be available on the page and not as rollover effects. Requiring a mouse movement to get meaningful information is a major violation of HCI and accessibility guidelines. (What happens to people who browse without a mouse? What about screen-readers?) At least user agents can present information in the title attribute via other means appropriate for the agent, but javascript to manipulate the status bar only works on a narrow class of web browsers. Some web browsers don’t even have a status bar, but are still capable of displaying images.

        It is also incredibly annoying to have info hidden until one just happens to wave the mouse over just the right place in the window.

        • ralesk says:

          You have to admit people with screen readers won't give a shit about who's on the photo though.

          • silnith says:

            There is more to accessibility than the blind. For every blind person, there are ten who can see just fine but have serious problems with the manual dexterity required for a mouse. Alzheimers, quadriplegics, amputees, even people using crappy ball mice with gunk making it skip and bounce all over the screen. They are everywhere, not all surfers are nice healthy mobile people with optical mice on roomy desks at the right level. Some have their mouse surface too high to use without arm strain, others have half-broken mice that have a resolution of no better than 2″ (I was using one of these at an Internet café for over a month), some have difficulty with the hand-eye coordination to control the mouse smoothly, others still are using their keyboards to move the pointer around achingly slow.

            Do you really feel comfortable dismissing all of these people with a vulgarity? Simply to avoid properly designing web pages as experts have suggested for years upon years now?

          • silnith says:

            As a simpler example, have you ever tried to surf on an old laptop with a tiny touchpad for an entire day? In the best case it slows me down to one-fifth the speed I can get with a mouse.

            • ralesk says:

              Yes I have.

              How about you "bite me"? And like totally get off my case, now.

              • silnith says:

                Then why are you taking this so personally? I was raising legitimate concerns, not getting on any particular person’s case. You chose to respond.

                • ralesk says:

                  You replied to me, of course I chose to respond. You even replied twice as a result of obviously not reading carefully what I had said. You brought up issues which I am not even ignoring nor am I being unsupportive of them - obviously since you misread my above comment, I can't fault you on that, you couldn't have known. But you commented twice, second time pretty much taking me for an idiot, seeing how you didn't believe that I can interpret the longer comment of yours regarding the manual accessibility issues. Using second person in a way you did and not trying to indicate it would be a general `you' at all, and even "providing an example" in that manner, doesn't really make it anything other than getting on my case for that "vulgarity".


                  • silnith says:

                    You are going to great lengths to try and make yourself into a victim here. <lj user="jwz"> make a post about not being able to change the status bar text. I responded by agreeing it was much more difficult than in the past, and added that I considered it a bad idea in any event. He responded (with a rude subject) by saying there was information he wanted that previously was conveyed using the status bar. I suggested that was a poor interface and suggested using other methods. You made the comment that people using screen readers would not look at photographs. Yes, screen readers are typically used by the blind who cannot view photographs. However, that does not mean they do not care about who is in them or knowing other information about the picture. Metadata is just as important as the pictoral data. This is the sort of thing you seem to have missed with your comment about screen readers. I kept my responses on-point, tring to clarify. You have insisted that this is a fight of some kind and repeatedly attempted to paint me as insulting you. There is really no reason for you to be so defensive.

                  • ralesk says:

                    My mistake on the title, I had only noticed it much later in the thread.

                    You had mentioned screen readers in that reply to <lj user='jwz'> and that's pretty much what made me comment on that (while not disagreeing on the other content, mind), and then you insisted on the whole mouse thing - and you know the rest.

                    From my viewpoint it was what I said it was; I'm not trying to paint this any worse or anything, it's just how it came off to me.

                    Anyway... I know now what you intended to convey, so let's just chalk it up as a series of unfortunate interpretations.

                  • usufructer says:

                    OMG TEH DRAMA!!!one1!

                  • silnith says:

                    Heh heh heh… is that not the purpose of LiveJournal?  ;)

                  • silnith says:

                    Works for me.

      • silnith says:

        Why not just put that info as a caption next to the picture? Above, below, next to, whatever.

      • decklin says:

        I, for one, would appreciate an extension that just got rid of the tooltips and displayed TITLE in the statusbar, like elinks, but I haven't been sufficiently annoyed to make it.

  2. ralesk says:

    Well, it still works on one of the newest branch builds of firefox when I visit my million years old Digimon fansite, so I don't know what's wrong with yours.

    <a href="main2.cgi?lang=HU&amp;sect=digi1" target="" onmouseover="window.status='Digimon'; return true;" onmouseout="window.status=''; return true;">

    Seems to be pretty much the same as your JS.

    If you're using XHTML, they might be pissy about the case of the attribute, but I sure as hell haven't seen a browser be strict about that...

  3. jorm says:

    firefox: tools -> options -> web features -> enable javascript:advanced -> allow scripts to change status bar text.

  4. deemon says:

    No website has absolutely no valid reasons to change my status bar text. It's mine, not yours.

    • harvie says:

      So are you trying to communicate here that all sites (may) have reasons to change the text, or is your english just dreadful?

      Also the status bar is generally regarded as a place to display 'relevant information' whatever that may be, whether in windows explorer for filesizes etc, in many applications as an instant-tooltip (with the added bonus that you know where it's going to appear), to explain menu options etc. For general links I would agree that changing the status bar text is a bad idea, but for a series of nearly-identical links (such as to photographs) I don't see anything actually wrong with it - although it is inefficient, as if you are looking for a picture of a certain person you can't do find-by-name-in-page... But it's not a religious point: you have the capability to disable changeable status bar text in your browser, so make your preference felt that way.

      • deemon says:

        yeah, my english kinda sucks, i know. Although i hear that double negation is Ok these days, especially if you're russian.

        Anyway, on the topic - status bar is for information that _I_ find relevant, not a website designer, so - no changing status bar, period. I have to see link locations there.

        • harvie says:

          Then as you _have_ to see link locations there, the website designer can assume that you have 'disallow javascript changes to status bar' turned on and then write his page to display relevant information in the status bar for those that don't mind, right?

          • deemon says:

            exactly, and then your relevant information ends up in a place where i (and many others) will not see it at all

            if that's your intent, fine

        • silnith says:

          As an addendum, allowing a website designer to change the meaning of standardized keyboard shortcuts is even worse than allowing them to change the status bar text. I can’t stand when I hit alt+B to open a menu and get sent to a new webpage instead.

  5. artlung says:

    Short Answer: Spammers and Popup jerks and Phishers have ruined that for everyone.

    Longer explanation:
    Phishers use this to do something like:

    <a href="" onmouseover="window.status=''; return true" onmouseout="window.status='';return true;">

    Tip: The fast way to get at the on/off switch for allowing sites to modify the status bar in Mozilla based browsers is: about:config and look for dom.disable_window_status_change and set it to true.

    Non-JS ways to communicate this to the user: the title attribute of the <a> tag, or the alt tag of the <img> tag. You could also add longdesc attributes to either tags too. And yes, in some browsers one of the above may cause a "tooltip" to appear. Whether and how browsers consume and communicates these attributes of course, varies.

    Sorry browsers suck.

    • silnith says:

      Actually, for images that are actually loaded and rendered, the alt contents will not appear. Anywhere. Not even the tooltip, that was an implementation mistake of the IE team. (The title attribute is fine to show in a tooltip as browsers now do.) The only time the alt text appears anywhere at all is if the image cannot be displayed.

  6. evan says:

    evil hack: make the href contain the text you want, and use js onclick to actually make clicking the link take you to the right url.

    breaks: non-js browsers, middle-click/right-click open in new window, etc.

    • zzedar says:

      A less hairy version of this is to use onmousedown, which will work for middle-clicks and right-clicks and so forth.