Linking to textual content fragments in internet pages – Ole Begemann


Textual content fragments are a manner for internet hyperlinks to specify a phrase or phrase a browser ought to spotlight on the vacation spot web page. Google Chrome added assist for them in model 80 (launched in February 2020).

For instance, opening the hyperlink oleb.internet/2020/swift-docker-linux/#:~:textual content=operating,container in Chrome ought to spotlight the primary heading of the article:

Chromium highlighting the textual content fragment specified within the URL.

The plain use case is engines like google: while you click on a hyperlink in a search outcome, the browser would robotically spotlight your search time period(s) on the vacation spot web page.

I’ve at all times needed this characteristic. I typically discover myself visiting a web page from a search engine, solely to right away hit Cmd+F and re-type my search question into the browser’s Discover on Web page textual content area. For sure, it is a ache on cellular gadgets with out a correct keyboard.

However textual content fragments produce other makes use of past engines like google:

  1. Linking to a specific sentence or paragraph of a protracted doc. I’d use this on a regular basis when linking to API documentation or discussion board posts. “Regular” URL fragments solely work for anchors the creator of the vacation spot web page created upfront, and readers often can’t see what anchor tags can be found on a web page.

  2. Sharing a selected portion of a web page. Browsers might facilitate this by providing to incorporate a textual content fragment within the URL when sharing a hyperlink to a textual content choice.

Right here’s the pattern URL from above as soon as extra:

https://oleb.internet/2020/swift-docker-linux/#:~:textual content=operating,container

This half is the textual content fragment:

#:~:textual content=operating,container

This fragment finds the primary point out of “operating” (case-insensitive) on the web page and highlights all the things from that time till it finds “container”. There are just a few extra variants of the syntax. Learn the textual content fragments draft spec for particulars.

Search phrases might include delicate data that customers don’t wish to share with the vacation spot server. For good purpose, engines like google stopped reporting the person’s search phrases within the referer header a very long time in the past as a part of the widespread transfer to HTTPS. It might be unhealthy if a brand new characteristic reintroduced this previous knowledge leak.

The spec considers this problem. Textual content fragments are designed to be purely a browser-level characteristic — they’re not uncovered to JavaScript code. This screenshot demonstrates that doc.location.hash is clean as a result of Chromium stripped the textual content fragment away:

Screenshot of the JavaScript console in Chromium demonstrating that the destination page can’t see the text fragment
JavaScript code operating within the vacation spot web page can’t see the textual content fragment.

I feel this the appropriate habits, however the spec authors appear to be contemplating altering it again as a result of it might constrain some professional use circumstances and since JavaScript can already decide what parts of a web page a person is studying by monitoring the viewport rect. I don’t know — exposing a delicate search time period appears extra invasive to me than the scroll place.

It’s price noting that the privateness concern exists for browsers that don’t assist textual content fragments: they may deal with the gibberish as a traditional URL fragment, which may simply be parsed with a little bit of JavaScript.

As a precaution, engines like google and related websites ought to most likely solely embrace textual content fragments of their hyperlinks if the person’s browser helps the characteristic (window.location.fragmentDirective).

Chrome is at present the one browser with textual content fragment assist. From what I’ve learn, the WebKit and Firefox groups are usually supportive of the concept however have some reservations about particular design selections.

I hope this or one thing prefer it turns into broadly supported within the close to future.

Replace June 22, 2020: I uncared for to say fragmentations, an IndieWeb initiative that goals to unravel the identical drawback and is no less than six years previous. This characteristic makes use of regular URL fragments and client-side JavaScript to seek out the matching textual content on the vacation spot web page (which is just needed as a result of there’s no native browser assist, in fact).