Use 'backspace' again in Firefox

By robrt on Monday 22 June 2009 21:05 - Comments (21)
Categories: Tricks, Ubuntu, Views: 4.884

Apparently one of the most heated debates in the Firefox team is not how they'll overthrow IE and claim world dominance, but whether or not the backspace key in Firefox on Linux should go UP in the same page or BACK in the browser history.

Well .. I love backspacing in history, so let's fix that:

Open up:
about:config

Assure Firefox you'll be careful.

Filter:
browser.backspace_action


Change to:
0


That's all. Effective immediately. :)

As a sidenote; I understand the need for platform conventions and adhering to them, but 'backspace=back' is such a common feature in the everyday browsers (IE, Safari, Opera AND Firefox) that I can't for the life of me understand why platform conventions go above every day usage conventions! It's almost as if they're purposefully trying to scare away new users of Firefox on Linux!
Well .. maybe not, but it's certainly not to their advantage.

Just my $ 0.210. ( :+ )

Update: Just found a mozillazine article here explaining a bit more of the rationale behind this break away from its old behaviour.

These are the possible values in the field:

0
Pressing [Backspace] will go back a page in the session history and [Shift]+[Backspace] will go forward. (Default in Windows)

1
Pressing [Backspace] will scroll up a page in the current document and [Shift]+[Backspace] will scroll down. (Default in Linux builds before 2006-12-07)

(Other)
Any other integer value will simply unmap the backspace key. In Linux builds after 2006-12-07, the default is 2. 


Let's show your support to at least change this behaviour in Ubuntu :) :
http://brainstorm.ubuntu.com/idea/9443/image/1/

Volgende: Gnome 'Applications' menu suddenly empty 07-'09 Gnome 'Applications' menu suddenly empty
Volgende: Ubuntu & GOpenVPN: Tunnelblick for *nix! 06-'09 Ubuntu & GOpenVPN: Tunnelblick for *nix!

Comments


By Tweakers user Voxyn, Monday 22 June 2009 21:12

$ 0.02 is ook genoeg hoor ;)

Ontopic: heb een gigantische hekel aan die functie ben al een paar keer forumsposts eraan kwijtgeraakt ;)

[Comment edited on Monday 22 June 2009 21:40]



By Tweakers user DOT, Monday 22 June 2009 21:29

Backspace == back was not only removed because of platform consistency. That plays a part, but the more important reason is that it can lead to data loss.

Consider having a text field on a page, and you think it is selected. You hit backspace to delete a word, but instead the entire page goes away, and you lose your blog post. The text field was not selected. FML

By Tweakers user robrt, Monday 22 June 2009 21:42

DOT: Sounds plausible, but none of the bugs in regards to this change mention that specifically? Including this wiki page, which does mention the following:
The backspace key was mapped to the browser ‘Back’ function in Mozilla for consistency with Internet Explorer. However, to improve consistency with other applications running on Linux, it was decided that this mapping should be optional—and set based on which platform the browser was running on. As a compromise, this preference was created to allow the backspace key to either go back/forward, scroll up/down a page, or do nothing.
In addition, Firefox (not sure of others) now remember textarea/input element content when going back a page and going forward straight after that. So the data loss issue looks pretty much resolved to me. Isn't it?

* Rob.. just went back/forwards a couple of times while editing this post .. :+

[Comment edited on Monday 22 June 2009 21:48]


By Tweakers user stereohead, Monday 22 June 2009 22:14

Thanx!
I was missing this since I'm using linux :)

By Tweakers user DOT, Monday 22 June 2009 22:23

In addition, Firefox (not sure of others) now remember textarea/input element content when going back a page and going forward straight after that. So the data loss issue looks pretty much resolved to me. Isn't it?
That only works if there is either no scripting involved, or the site supports it. There are many sites where this will fail.

By Tweakers user robrt, Monday 22 June 2009 22:43

DOT: Yes, read about that as well, but didn't really find any examples where it (still) failed. Do you have any?

(Except for Flash .. everything fails in Flash.. :+)

[Comment edited on Monday 22 June 2009 22:46]


By Tweakers user Tyrian, Monday 22 June 2009 22:55

Off-topic:
For some reason it continues to annoy me to repeatedly read English blog entries at a Dutch ICT site. While I'm browsing through English sites all the day I expect Tweakers.net to be in my native language: Dutch. I wish that the blogs would keep them to this standard.

Apart from my annoyance I don't see much added value to have the blogs here in English. The vast majority of the Tweaker.net visitors are Dutch people, so you don't serve them with an English blog anyways.

By Tweakers user Neverwinterx, Monday 22 June 2009 23:01

Reminds me of a quote from User Interface Design for Programmers:
If Microsoft is doing it in a popular program like Word, Excel,
Windows, or Internet Explorer, millions of people are going to think that it's right, or at least
fairly standard. They are going to assume that your program works the same way. Even if
you think that Alt+Left is not a good shortcut key for "Back," there are literally millions of
people out there who will try to use Alt+Left to go back, and if you refuse to do it on some
general religious principle that Bill Gates is the evil Smurf arch-nemesis Gargamel, then you
are just gratuitously ruining your program so that you can feel smug and self-satisfied, and
your users will not thank you for it.

[Comment edited on Monday 22 June 2009 23:02]


By Tweakers user robrt, Monday 22 June 2009 23:06

Tyrian:
The vast majority of the Tweaker.net visitors are Dutch people, so you don't serve them with an English blog anyways.
Guess again. With rob-erwt's awesome SEO skillz Tweakblogs ranks pretty decent in Google so it's not uncommon to attract foreign visitors to your blog. :)

But, honestly, I share my notes in this blog with colleagues/friends as well, and seeing as they are mostly Scottish / Irish and Finnish, posting in English is simply the best option for me. :)

Neverwinterx: Well put. It's just imho another - yet small - hurdle when there doesn't have to be one. Perhaps 'blame' should in part also go to Ubuntu for this; they should've anticipated this - and with their reputation for ease of use / easy distro for Windows-converts - should have at least made their build be in accordance with the old behaviour.
There has been a brainstorm idea on brainstorm.ubuntu.com since June last year for this particular fix, and nothing seems to happen.. (8.10: nothing, 9,04: nothing, 9.10 perhaps?)

[Comment edited on Monday 22 June 2009 23:24]


By Tweakers user sanderev66, Monday 22 June 2009 23:28

Luckily Opera lets you decide what happens when you press a key. By default: Backspace = one history page back.

By Tweakers user DOT, Monday 22 June 2009 23:43

Luckily, Firefox lets you decide too. By default: Backspace = nothing.

Sites where backspace kills kittens:
http://eric.halo43.com/startrekepisodes.php
http://google.com
http://mijn.ing.nl

By Tweakers user Spinal, Monday 22 June 2009 23:44

Hooray for Opera. Press backspace by accident? No problem, just go forward a page (shift-backspace) and your POST-data will still be there! :D

By Tweakers user DOT, Tuesday 23 June 2009 00:03

Opera seems to do better. It doesn't fail on the three examples I gave. It may still fail on other examples. For example: POST data that needs to be resent, but which also has undesirable side effects (duplicate DB entries and stuff).

By Tweakers user Blokker_1999, Tuesday 23 June 2009 05:43

Honestly, i never even noticed in Linux. I Usually use my mouse buttons to go back and foreward. And yes, on most forums Fx does remember text input when you go back and forward again.

By Tweakers user boe2, Tuesday 23 June 2009 09:32

DOT:
If your previous page was actually sending POST data, opera will ask you if you want to send it again, just as you'd expect. If it hadnt been sent yet it just shows you your existing input.

By Tweakers user Soldaatje, Tuesday 23 June 2009 09:56

I also use gestures to go back in history.
I haven't had any problems with losing text data so i will leave it for now.

By Tweakers user Punkie, Tuesday 23 June 2009 11:27

By T.net user Tyrian, Monday 22 June 2009 22:55
Off-topic:
For some reason it continues to annoy me to repeatedly read English blog entries at a Dutch ICT site. While I'm browsing through English sites all the day I expect Tweakers.net to be in my native language: Dutch. I wish that the blogs would keep them to this standard.

Apart from my annoyance I don't see much added value to have the blogs here in English. The vast majority of the Tweaker.net visitors are Dutch people, so you don't serve them with an English blog anyways.
And again it annoys me to hear the assertion that someones individuality, rationalism and right to express himself is defeated by the comfort of a person (well defined, the center of his own universe and thus the center of the universe for everyone).
Stop blaming ppl from being different to what YOU expect or YOU think should be standard.

The fact that *you* don't see the "added value" or the benefit, doesn't exclude others from seeing benefits. Again, *you* are not the standard.

By Tweakers user DOT, Tuesday 23 June 2009 16:08

If your previous page was actually sending POST data, opera will ask you if you want to send it again, just as you'd expect. If it hadnt been sent yet it just shows you your existing input.
Yes, but what if the POST data really shouldn't be sent again? You can't just go back into a program at arbitrary times. A program has a clearly defined flow, and you may get in an inconsistent state if you disrupt that flow.

By Tweakers user Magnetra, Tuesday 23 June 2009 20:47

ARGH!
U wordt bedankt!
Dankzij u ben ik nu constant de backspace aan het rammen als ik terug wil 8)7 .

:+

Maareh, hier op Debian testing icm Iceweasel (Firefox) doet backspace helemaal niets (zowel niet naar boven als terug in geschiedenis). Opera gaat wel terug in de geschiedenis :*) .

Nog zo'n vage gewoontje is om vensters te sluiten la Win 3.11 style (dubbelklikken op icoontje linksbovenin van scherm) 8)7 . Daarom heb ik in GNOME mijn sluitknop links gezet :X 8)7 :') .

Ach jah, gewoontes h: laten we het daar maar op houden :Y) .

[Comment edited on Tuesday 23 June 2009 20:49]


By Tweakers user robrt, Tuesday 23 June 2009 22:37

epic_fail: eh, ja, dat was juist het probleem dat backspace helemaal niets deed. :+

Comments are closed