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Google Chrome To Disallow Backspace As a 'Back' Button (independent.co.uk) 348

An anonymous reader writes: Google Chrome is going to stop people from accidentally deleting everything they've been doing. A future version of the app will stop the backspace button from also functioning as a "back" button. The change has already been rolled out in some experimental versions of the app, and has upset some users. Developers have said that the feature is only being partly enabled for now, in case there is "sufficient outcry" and it needs to be rolled back. People regularly press the button thinking that they're deleting a word from a form, developers said, but then find that they weren't actually typing into that form and so accidentally go back, losing everything they've done.
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Google Chrome To Disallow Backspace As a 'Back' Button

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  • Give the option (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ormy ( 1430821 ) on Thursday May 19, 2016 @04:44PM (#52144679)

    Default behaviour should be backspace does NOT take you back a page. Leave a setting somewhere obvious to turn that particular function on again. Was that so hard?

    • +8 solved in the first post awesome good work next issue!
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      It was dumb to map backspace to back anyway. With Internet and browsers dominating existence, keyboards should be redesigned with common browser clickies built in and separate from editing keys.

      Objections? Consider your useless neck broken and your body left for the wolves.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        There used to be a set of golden rule guides on good GUI design. Some of the rules were:

        1. Make every window consistent.
        2. Ensure that every window has a [CANCEL], exit without changing anything button
        3. Ensure that "dangerous" options are separated well away from "harmless" options.
        4. Ensure that anything that could be undone was guarded with a "confirm" and with a timeout
        5. Ensure that the user was queried when they tried to leave without saving work.
        6. Ensure that backup copies were saved somewhere perma

      • Re:Give the option (Score:5, Informative)

        by lgw ( 121541 ) on Thursday May 19, 2016 @05:23PM (#52145053) Journal

        It was dumb to map backspace to back anyway. With Internet and browsers dominating existence, keyboards should be redesigned with common browser clickies built in and separate from editing keys.

        Objections? Consider your useless neck broken and your body left for the wolves.

        And thus the wheel of pain spins full circle. Mainframe terminals have always worked this way. The terminal is sent a non-web form, the user enters some data in fields with Tab and Return serving only and always to move the cursor around. Once you're done, there was a separate "Xmit" key to post the form.

        Form submission was always explicit, and entirely compatible with high-speed touch-typists.

      • With Internet and browsers dominating existence, keyboards should be redesigned with common browser clickies built in and separate from editing keys.

        Apropos of the subject, Chromebooks do exactly that. [bigcommerce.com] Who needs those function keys anyway?

    • I don't use backspace but I DO use a LOT of hotkeys, so I sympathise with people who used backspace. I have been stung by this once or twice but 99% of the time nowadays the browsers are clever enough to cache EVERYTHING and you hit forward and it's all fixed.

      As you said though, how about an option for it?

      OOOOOOOOOPSIE DAISY! We're talking about god-damned-I-know-best-shut-your-idiot-mouth Chrome, where options are EVIL. They won't give you an option to do a god damned thing.

      They can have a fast and r

      • I heavily use hotkeys, too. However, I would have never guessed that anyone would map backspace to that function.

        In every browser I can remember using, it's always been Alt+LeftArrow. I figure that's good enough to leave unconfigurable.

        • I think it's a terrible hotkey, backspace? It's an awful idea, pretty sure I use ALT back as well. That being said, when people fuck with your workflow, it's frustrating.

          Chrome loves to not give a shit about standards or let people customise things. They are as arrogant as Apple.

    • Exactly! I don't understand why browsers these days like to hide choice from the user, smh. Luckily, there's a Vivaldi for that now.

    • Tell that to the people who have been asking for MRU tab-switching for ages [chromium.org]

      Chrome doesn't even allow plugins to enable MRU for ctrl+tab.

    • by Hentes ( 2461350 )

      I didn't even know you can't rebind keys in Chrome. I know that it's also not an option in Firefox. Why is it that browser makers have so much trouble implementing a basic feature that exists in nearly every other piece of UI software?

    • by Livius ( 318358 )

      How did it take so long for this *bug* to get fixed?

    • Was that so hard?

      It's not that it's hard, it's that after so many years of having if() statements spread all through out the code to handle very minor use cases, code become unwieldy. Around the same time users complain that your program is "bloated", and having so many options is confusing. So when you have a situation that annoys 99% of your user base, but 1% like (but honestly can do without), you make the decision to remove the if() statement, so the code can be leaner and cleaner.

    • Google doesn't believe in giving users any choices. Want a real menu in Chrome? Sorry, if you're on a Windows machine, no can have. Want to use '+' to tag words that must appear in searches? Sorry, now you have to use quotes, and who knows what that does if you want to get inflected forms (+dog should give you hits with dogs, "dog" should not). Want the old Google Maps or Google News interface? Outa luck.

      Google; they know what's good for you better than you do.

  • For all the pain this has called me, I'm glad our national nightmare is finally over!

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 19, 2016 @04:51PM (#52144755)

      Firefox will ask you whether you want to leave a page before going back if there's data entered on the page. Chrome should implement something similar.

      • it does on mine
      • Firefox will ask you whether you want to leave a page before going back if there's data entered on the page.

        I call bullshit. I have lost many FogBugz responses over the years because Firefox inexplicably decided that a Backspace keystroke in a case edit should be interpreted as a 'Previous page' command instead of deleting the previous character. When dealing with longer responses we now tend to write them in Atom, Notepad, etc. and copy-paste the final output into FogBugz so as to avoid the pain.

  • good? i guess.
  • Long overdue (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Vadim Makarov ( 529622 ) <makarov@vad1.com> on Thursday May 19, 2016 @04:50PM (#52144737) Homepage
    It took this many years until one browser vendor has noticed this usability problem? I have lost uncountable forms to this stupid feature. It works especially best when you are in a hurry or tired.

    Make it an option (buried in the config) for those who want it, and turn it off by default.
    • Then it becomes a nuisance for read-only pages where fast key navigation is very useful. It is not the browser's fault when you lose a form due to a misplaced backspace, it is the form developer's fault for not building a navigation confirmation into their page (and also a little bit your fault for losing your cursor). If the higher level system cannot make a decision that works for all cases, then that decision should not be made by that system.
      • Then it becomes a nuisance for read-only pages where fast key navigation is very useful.

        Alt+Left, Alt+Right

        it is the form developer's fault for not building a navigation confirmation into their page

        With JavaScript, one can add a listener for the beforeunload event. But a lot of pop-up ads have abused onbeforeunload to add an "are you sure you want to close this ad?" alert. Besides, how should a form developer do this in an environment where JavaScript is blocked, such as NoScript, LibreJS, tracking blockers that mistakenly block the CDN hosting a script, or a corporate MITM proxy put in place "to block ransomware". That's why some Slashdot users have recommended using the heuristic

    • Have to agree with this. I doubt that their is a person in the entire world, who has used the internet for any length of time and not been inconvenienced by this default browser behaviour. Also, no one in their right mind would use this feature anyways, as it does not work when focused in on any editable text box including the URL bar. It is just the most ridiculous design you could think of.

  • hmmm (Score:5, Funny)

    by devoid42 ( 314847 ) on Thursday May 19, 2016 @04:52PM (#52144761)
    I would have gotten first post but I hit the backspace
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Why not fix the actual problem of the forward button not returning them to the page with all of their work in tact?

    ...and while they're at it, they can make the browser display a file upload progress indicator, just like it displays a file download progress indicator, so that every web site in the world doesn't have to hack together some javascript bullshit just so that users realize something is actually happening when they click "upload."

    Fucking idiot web browser developers. Can't think outside of the b

    • Fucking idiot web browser developers

      So you'll just let us know when you have solved this incredibly easy problem, then? It seems you know quite a bit about HTTP, HTML/5, JS, CSS, browsers and UI design. More than me obviously, because I cannot imagine just how the fuck you would store every form value, JS variable, DHTML element state, dynamically loaded resource and HTML5 local store content perfectly back to their original states. What do I know though, I'm just an idiot developer.

      • by narcc ( 412956 )

        I cannot imagine just how the fuck you would store every form value, JS variable, DHTML element state, dynamically loaded resource and HTML5 local store content perfectly back to their original states.

        Why would you need to do that? Going back could simply hide the current page for some brief period before closing it. Go forward within that period and just make it visible again.

        Or, you know, prevent the problem in the first place by not mapping the backspace key to the back function. (In FireFox: set browser.backspace_action = 2)

        When you're faced with a ridiculously complicated solution, look around a bit, there's usually a much simpler one.

      • Fucking idiot web browser developers

        So you'll just let us know when you have solved this incredibly easy problem, then? It seems you know quite a bit about HTTP, HTML/5, JS, CSS, browsers and UI design. More than me obviously, because I cannot imagine just how the fuck you would store every form value, JS variable, DHTML element state, dynamically loaded resource and HTML5 local store content perfectly back to their original states. What do I know though, I'm just an idiot developer.

        Well, the tab has a state. Before navigation, store that state. Upon returning to that page in the history, restore that state. Chrome certainly has enough RAM to do this. A single GMail tab gives me 8 chrome.exe processes (32-bit, of course) and eats up half a gig of memory. In many cases, FF, PaleMoon, and IE DO restore form fields when navigating back and forth.

  • I support this change. I've had multiple instances over the years where I'm filling out a complicated form, try to erase a couple characters by hitting the backspace key, and found myself going to previous pages and wiping out the work that I'd done. Honestly, I don't use the "Back" button enough to need a shortcut.

    Now if only Macs would stop using the two-finger trackpad swipe gesture as a shortcut for back/forward buttons. I know you can turn it off (and I do on any Mac I sit down at), but the two-fin

  • by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Thursday May 19, 2016 @05:00PM (#52144845)
    alt + left arrow or right arrow are equivalent to the back and forward buttons. I know, I know, two buttons at once is sooooo hard, but you'll manage.

    For the remaining billions of us who've lost countless hours of typing due to this stupid "feature", Hooray!
  • WTF (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Spacelord ( 27899 ) on Thursday May 19, 2016 @05:04PM (#52144887)

    No! I use that feature all the time. Together with vimium, it allows me to navigate while keeping my hands on the keyboard without having to reach for my mouse all the time.

    I know alt+left arrow works too, but a chorded keyboard shortcut is a lot less convenient, and I'd still have to move my hand to the arrow cluster instead of staying close to home row.

    • Right. Why do we have to suffer because some idiots can't manage to make sure their cursor is in a text box?
      • Why do we have to suffer because some idiots can't manage to make sure their cursor is in a text box?

        You're not suffering, you still have a keyboard short cut. Sometimes the computer decides to change focus on you in the middle of typing. It's very annoying when a backspace is involved.

    • by Fwipp ( 1473271 )

      Dude. Just map it in vimium.

      • That is an option I guess. Still means remembering yet another non-trivial thing to configure on a new chrome installation. (add-ons don't sync settings)

    • The use of the backspace button to move "Back" in a browser is a holdover from the days of Netscape Navigator and its atrocious interface. Microsoft adopted it in I.E., and then all subsequent browsers adopted it for compatibility. Firefox has a configuration setting for what Backspace does. Why shouldn't Chrime?
      More than once, I've accidentally "clicked" outside a text area (particularly easy to do on a laptop trackpad) and then hit backspace, thinking I was still in a text entry box, obliterating everyth
    • I like the backspace key for back as well and I use it all the time... it makes so much sense to me... it's got a back arrow right there.

      Sure, I have been burned by it a couple of times, but that is why I just use the delete key or ctrl+shift+arrows to select text and then the delete key, in forms and never use the backspace button.

      Anyway, as long as it is map-able, I don't have a major issue with the change.

  • This is a problem? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NEOGEOman ( 155470 ) on Thursday May 19, 2016 @05:11PM (#52144941)

    This is sort of weird. As a long time Opera user I never had a problem accidentally leaving the page. My browser always remembered what I'd typed and going forward again to the form page would have all my content as I'd left it.

    IMO the problem isn't the backspace key, it's unfriendly browsers.

    • I think the reason that this problem just came to light recently has more to do with Windows 10. Sometimes, Windows 10 will spontaneously perform a screen refresh that cancels any UI text input that is happening at the same time. A friend has also noticed it, and it caused him to delete a file while in the process of renaming it.

      Chrome shouldn't change its behavior to get around this obvious failure.... The problem should be addressed at the CAUSE.
  • I thought today's browser automatically remembered the contents of the text fields if you hit back and then go forward again (using the forward button, not clicking the link again)??

    I mean, IE and FireFox remember the contents of text fields if I hit back (or backspace) and it goes back a page. Hit forward and boom, text I entered is still there.

    Granted, it's not a behaviour that works 100% because of the way some websites work (especially rich text fields), but it seems to work fairly well..

    Doesn't Chrome remember it?

    • Yeah, I believe you are right.

      Though I use RoboForm so I haven't manually filled out a web form in years.

    • As far as I know every browser other than Chrome remembers it unless there's some especially shitty javascript on the page that fucks it up.
      The fact that this is a problem in Chrome is news to me, but it doesn't surprise me.

    • In Firefox 46, forms that are part of the initial HTML document get restored properly, but forms created through scripted manipulation of the DOM, such as Slashdot's current reply form, usually don't. A workaround on Slashdot is to use the old reply form, which I can access by middle-clicking "Reply to This" or by right-clicking it and choosing "Open Link in New Tab".

  • by thisisauniqueid ( 825395 ) on Thursday May 19, 2016 @06:11PM (#52145375)
    Relevant bug [google.com]
  • Hey, Google, if your real motive here is truly to "save the (form) data", why not buy or license the use of the Lazarus extension's codebase and simply incorporate that into Chrome? Then you could leave our fucking backspace key mapped the way it's always been since 1995. The Lazarus extension for Firefox has been effectively negating that disaster for years now.

  • I've hated backspace as a navigation option as well as space bar as page down. I have a page down button, I don't need the space bar to do it too. Use case, my toddler is perfectly happy to let me read the internet, so long as she can bang away on the biggest key on the keyboard (the space bar).
  • Do like firefox (Score:4, Informative)

    by GuB-42 ( 2483988 ) on Thursday May 19, 2016 @06:29PM (#52145497)

    There is an option for this in Firefox, although it is hidden in about:config
    browser.backspace_action :
    0 : go back one page (the default on Windows)
    1 : scroll up (the default on linux before 2006-12-07)
    2 : do nothing (the default on linux after 2006-12-07)

    I like by backspace binding so on linux I change this. This should be the same for Chrome.

    I don't remember losing form data because of this. The biggest cause of losing data is failed submissions (connection problem, website error, session expired, ...). In case it happens I have Lazarus which saved the day a couple of times. Instead of changing keybindings people are used to, form backup is what Chrome should do, so that you don't lose your data no matter what.

  • Obligatory (Score:5, Funny)

    by Cristofori42 ( 1001206 ) on Thursday May 19, 2016 @06:39PM (#52145571)
  • .. while they're at it. Worst key combo ever. Hit it all the time. Don't try this at home.
  • How about saving the state before going back for any reason. Then the forward button can reload the state and you don't have to re-type anything.

    That way, if any of the several other ways you might accidentally go back are also covered.

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