In screenshot, Apple's next desktop OS hides web addresses


#1

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#2

It’s not so much that they don’t want you to know where you are, as much as the fact that URLs are historically terrible about conveying that information. Look at an Amazon product link- sure, it uniquely identifies the product’s address, but it’s not exactly information-rich to an end user.

Certainly, power-users like myself will hate this sort of information hiding. For the vast majority of users, it’s not going to make much difference. Also, this brings it in line with URL behavior on mobile devices.


#3

I think Windows does the same thing in the Explorer.exe title bars. I’m wondering if it’ll act the same way and show you the full path once you click on the address bar for editing.


#4

I bet it will work that way. I’ll know in a couple of days, though.


#5

I know that it feels like dumbing down the web, but how much truly useful information do URLs really contain these days? There is not much left of the quaint idea that it tells you anything about the implementation of the site.


#6

Perhaps it is to placate the kind of person, an example of which asked me to “remove all the ugly stuff” after the dot-com, on a website I was working on. Said individual also “didn’t want to have to learn anything, just write down which buttons to push” so that they could update the site themselves. This was way before CMSs were common.


#7

I’ve seen phishing attempts that try to simulate a valid URL. I’d always assumed just showing the domain was an anti-phishing measure. You still see the full URL when you click it.


#8

The problem I have with that is that it breaks functionality for sites that are doing it right and rewards those who are doing it wrong.

I’d rather see support for a ‘friendly text URL’ property in HTML for browsers so that that text could be displayed by default in the URL bar if it is present, and then if you click on the URL bar you get the underlying URL.


#9

That’s not such crazy desire. Hard to fulfill, but not inherently nuts.


#10

If you want to prevent phishing, a better solution has already been implemented by most browsers: Simply highlight the domain.

I’m not too broken up over this, because I rarely use Safari on the Mac anyway. I’m still a Firefox user so it doesn’t affect me. Of course browser makers tend to copy each other constantly, but at least on Firefox I can be pretty sure it will be an option I can turn off (even if it’s through about:config).


#11

Sure, it’s not wrong to want life’s tasks to be easy. We all want that, to some degree.

It’s just that it came across as “I don’t understand what you do. I don’t want to learn anything or put forth any effort, but I want you to perform magic so that I can do your job and not have to pay you anymore.”

I’m just frustrated by what feels like a loss of functionality, because some people don’t like it when tech is “ugly, confusing and hard”.


#12

Plenty. Often I’ll arrive at a 404 message, and if the directory structure is basic enough it’s simply a matter of cutting off the end of the address to arrive at the parent directory.


#13

I’m not sure it is a “quaint” idea that URLs convey or contain information. Sure, you’ve got bad sites that tell you nothing (/file.cgi?id=1234&param=abcd) and you’ve got very popular sites with URLS that are just as bad (Amazon), but you’ve also got a vast number of sites with human readable URLs, programming platforms/frameworks that encourage and facilitate human readable URLs, and big/popular sites who have recently moved or are currently moving in the direction of replacing their bad URLs with meaningful ones.

It also used to be the case that human-readable URLs had an impact on how search engines ranked your site… I’m not sure if that’s true anymore. Especially since that’s been so gamed by portal and spam sites.

Amongst professional web developers, human-readable URLs are a known best practice. However, the web moves at such high velocity that we are constantly being joined by wave after wave of new developers… and there is no certification program and no test. Anybody can be a web dev. (That’s actually one of the coolest parts of the web as a platform.)

I’m particularly concerned that once URLs are no longer visible, web developers – particularly new web developers – will take this as an indication that URLs have no importance. This will manifest in at least two ways: more sites with non human-readable URLs and more sites with many screens/pages but only one URL.

Human-readable URLs are a very handy power-user tool because people who understand URLs can navigate directly to certain things by intelligent guessing. They are also quite handy for regular users in the context of bookmarking or link sharing in the cases where the page title has not replaced the URL as the identifier. However, I imagine that fewer and fewer people are sharing raw URLs now. I imagine that people are more often clicking a share button which means that the URL is already deemphasized, and instead a title/snippet/snapshot is being shared and used to identify the content.

URLs in general, human-readable or not, are currently still very important and essential to the web ecosystem for the above use cases of sharing and bookmarking. If a vast array of content is all accessible through a dynamic experience but all at a single URL, then that content cannot be shared or bookmarked directly. Only the entryway into the content can be shared. That starts to breakdown the very fabric of the web.

If developers stop taking URLs seriously in general, at first they will run into SEO, discoverability, share-ability, and usability problems. But, if Google and some other big players decide to provide solutions to those problems that are not URL-based, then the URL will really suffer some serious blows.

I dunno though… underneath every major OS is still a path-based navigational tree. I think we’ll always invent ways to discover and navigate without having to know or see the paths, but the software developers will still be using and implementing paths underneath.

All this to say… the hiding of URLs could be a serious blow to the future of human-readable URLs. But for technical reasons, it is probably not a blow to the idea of URLs in general.

But, I do not think we should encourage the idea that the URLs-as-useful-information battle is already lost. More information is always objectively better than less information. URLs that convey information are objectively better than URLs that only identify a resource through internal unique id numbers. We would be horrified if our desktop software we use to manage our music and other media created nonsense file folders like /12345/989898/ababab/. We should be equally horrified when website URLs look like that.


#14

Certainly makes it easier for phishers.


#15

You don’t need to know anything about the implementation of the site, but about where you are and where you’re going, with the state of security as it is today, its important to know.
But the way I see it, that’s not even the point, from the article:

[quote] The updated URL display comes
along with new interface elements that—according to Apple—are designed
to make sharing websites easier. But the old-fashioned approach of copy-and-pasting the URL into a message now appears to be an extra click away. [/quote]

The outcome will be people will now learn to easily share through Apple, FB or whatever other intermediary will be set up to allow easy sharing.
Simply copying and pasting a link, will go the way of the dodo, now anything you share or want to keep will be one more data point in the data set of your life, and the owner of that data will not be you.

I’m aware that many sites are already set up for this, and many people already do this, Apple is just trying to squeeze in there to leech more of your data.


#16

I’d say that its an understandable desire, but, yes, it is nuts. Not because it is desired, but because it will be replaced with something even less useful.

Now you won’t “have to” share the URL by copying and pasting, you’ll “be able to” click on a button to share. not once thinking about the way its done, and the only way it gets done today, is by handing that link over to someone else and having them deliver it for you.
The implication of course is that now you’re sharing the link and your association with it.
now you can be better targeted for “ad’s”, and you won’t have to see things you didn’t want to buy anyway.

Understandable, but nuts because of the outcome.


#17

I am not denying that URLs are important behind the scenes. However I think that in practice the mordern-day user treats paths and query strings as atomic and more or less opaque.

Of course it is an important design decision what you want to be addressable and thus linkable, shareable, bookmarkable etc. on your site, but for the most part people do these things using either the (exact) current URL or one obtained via a page.

Sure, there are cases where is makes sense to modify URLs manually or type complex ones from scratch, but I think those are just too rare to be a really major factor in user interface design. Yes, there is a risk that hiding full URLs from plain sight will encourage less human-readable URLs and make some advanced use cases more difficult, but I think even today URL structures are so varied and arbitrary that you are at the developers’ mercy anyway.


#18

Truncating URLs to the domain level tends to make it harder for phishers. They like to prey on most users’ confusion about how URLs work by using subdomains, like “www.amazon.com.sketchysite.ru.” If truncated to the domain level as in the linked screenshot, that URL would show up as just “sketchysite.ru” – which to most users is more clear about where they actually are.


#19

I know that it feels like dumbing down the web, but how much truly
useful information do URLs really contain these days? There is not much
left of the quaint idea that it tells you anything about the
implementation of the site.

Time to start cranking out some of those “quaint” cross site scripting attacks.


#20

How exactly is that relevant in this case?