Christian Heilmann

Per Pedes – Footnotes rear their head again

Thursday, September 22nd, 2005 at 12:13 pm

I don’t know why this comes up now (after being a craze in July), but both Jens Grochdreis and Roger Johannson published posts about footnotes today.

While Roger’s post deals with Daring Fireball’s implementation, Jens points to an implementation at brandspankingnew. Joe Clark had a few well chosen words to say about footnotes and I tend to agree with him. There is no such thing as a footnote on the web, as this is actually what links are for – may they be page internal or to an external source.

I was really miffed by the implementation at brandspankingnew, as it is a perfect example of how not to create a sexy effect. Designers, hailing from a print background are always on the lookout for stuff like that and then they find JavaScript that turns spans into clickable elements (which are not keyboard accessible) and writes out HTML via innerHTML, thus making maintenance a nightmare.

So, from my point of view: Go NUTS on finding and trying out stuff like that, but when you do:

  • Make sure the final result is usable regardless of input device
  • Make sure the maintenance is easy – HTML should be in the HTML and not in a JavaScript variable
  • If you need HTML that only makes sense with JavaScript, then create it via JavaScript and the DOM - thus leaving a clear path of objects that makes it easy to change and remove the elements later on

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