Browser Support for Composition

As the web becomes filled with more and more advanced applications, the number of text boxes I find myself composing into increases. A typical day has me writing lengthy forum posts, lengthy messages on the discussion topics at work, and design specifications into tickets and bug reports. In all these cases, at any given time if I slip up and fire my browser’s back or forward buttons or close the browser window, my work is instantly lost.

I’d imagine it’s a pretty common problem when the backspace key is mapped to your browser’s back function.

The web sometimes meets you half way on this concern. I never worry about my word press blog entries, for instance, because it autosaves my compositions every couple minutes. (Thank you!) Opera tends to let me press forward or back buttons to undo my mistake, and all my work is still there in the text field. This is assuming the website coders allow you to cache the page.

There’s a new kid on the block in web development, though, and he’s not going to play nice with the browser’s back and forward buttons. I’m talking, of course, about AJAX. If I click a link and it pops a fancy AJAX text field into the page, I’m liable to lose my work when the back and forward buttons fail to reshow that AJAX insert.

The solution seems fairly simple. Browsers should support a way to lock a page. Once I’ve locked a page, back, forward, refresh, and close messages sent to my browser should be intercepted by a popup, asking me if I really want to let the message go through. This is similar to the popup in text editors “Do you want to save before closing?”. I can choose to let the brwoser continue processing the command, or cancel it and be looking at the same page.

Opera’s already halfway on this feature; I can lock a page and prevent it from being accidentally closed. I’m sure there’s a Firefox plugin that does the same, if it isn’t built in. I’d like to see built in support from both browsers. I know better than to ask IE for anything useful.