I use my browsers to browse: I open a page, read some of it, follow a link to another page, read a bit more, etc. The browsers offer a number of tools to help with that: keys such as the arrows and the space bar allow to scroll the page, the slash starts incremental search, other keys and menu items allow to make bookmarks, save a page, duplicate the window, zoom in, tab to the next link or form control, copy and paste, etc. Some browsers also allow me to look up words in a dictionary, translate a page or part of it, view just the headings, etc.
Recently, Dominique Hazaël-Massieux wrote about automatically setting focus to form controls upon opening the page. There are unfortunately designers that do that. It is unfortunate, because when a form control has the focus, you cannot browse anymore. In other words, setting the focus frustrates the user's expectations.
Setting the focus to an appropriate form control is a normal and desirable thing to do in an interactive application. This is thus another example of the confusion between documents and applications caused by “Dynamic HTML.”
Pages that open in a browser should act as documents, and applications should not open in a browser. The two types of user interaction cannot be combined in a single window.
HTML is not a UIDL, and many application written with the GUI expressed in HTML would improve (and be easier to maintain) if the authors used a real UIDL. Of course, there are programmers who prefer HTML, or only know HTML, and that is fine. However, such applications shouldn't be served by Web servers as “text/html,” which causes them to be opened in a browser, but as “application/widget.”
I think, and am optimistic, that this confusion of applications with documents is temporary.
I actually only use two such applications: Geoportail and Open Street Map. The latter can already almost be replaced by Marble. Unfortunately, I haven't found a program yet that replaces Geoportail.Bert Bos