Links need direct orientation markers

Geoffrey Bilder asked what is the use of having the URLs listed as footnotes when you are online?

This is a good question. In (plain text) email having the URLs visible is the only means of "linking." Placing URLs in footnotes improves the readability of the email message -- no odd word-wrapping in the message and URLs are less likely to be wrapped. These features, linking and readability, however, are directly supported on web pages. So why bother?

One fact given by seeing the URL is you can see if the link takes you off the page and/or off the site. This orientation feature is useful to me. Using the URL itself for this is indirect: I have to know the URL of the page I am on and then make the mental comparison between the two URLs. A better approach would be to use a marker that directly indicates the kind of link it is. This would be more useful on the web page. (And add the table of links on the printed page.)

It was a little slow at "Andrew Gilmartin & Associates" yesterday morning and so I used the opportunity to learn a little more about Prototype. It is a very powerful tool. It makes manipulating a DOM almost intuitive. When I next have some free time I will work on the orientation markers.

I am turning off the table of links feature. It was an interesting idea but in the end I agree with Geoffrey.