Encapsulating Frames

Framed, Html style!

Twelve years ago, Jakob Nielsen wrote about html frames around the time when some of us early creators of websites were just starting to see what they could do (and undo). We developed a distaste for frames and to this day, continue to be hired to undo old framed sites. I mention this only because some of my disdain for the current incarnation of frame-like encapsulations may have deep roots in my perception of acceptable web practice.

In recent months, we’ve been exposed to framing again. A whole new species of frames that seem to be coming from URL compression sites like Ow.ly that take an address like http://www.memphisconnect.com/2009/03/23/dancing-ii-the-recipe-for-tiger-success/ and convert it into this http://ow.ly/1l8p .  Now when you click on the shorter link, you’ll notice a frame at the top of the screen. Even as you click on other links, you’ll notice the URL in the Address Bar does not change.

Facebook is doing the same thing when you post a link. Their frame is slightly shorter.

Multiple frames from sharing a share.

Multiple frames from sharing a share.

The framing has been an irritation and I wasn’t inspired to write about it until I clicked on a link from my friend Beth G. Sanders within facebook which linked to an ow.ly url. The result was a frame within a frame.  For effect and to see if I could repeat the process, I took that url to ow.ly, facebook, and back to ow.ly again.  Here is the five layered framed page: http://ow.ly/1k3j .

Why Are They Using Frames ?

At SXSW, I spoke with Ryan Holmes, founder and President of HootSuite’s parent company.  Ryan shared that the frame allows those with Google AdSense accounts to monetize, provides for a rating system, and potentially more. He also shared that a version is in the works that will allow users to selectively turn off the framing function. This same direction is echoed in the company’s GetSatisfaction feedback pages.

Facebook’s motivation is seemingly different. As a user is sharing a link, there’s the possibility that their friends may also want to share it with their friends and/or comment about it. This perpetuates the notion of “taking your friends with you” as you roam the Web.


The Ow.ly team are to be commended for ultimately making the on/off selection available. Ow.ly is part of the HootSuite application (and I used it daily and would pay for it – except the ow.ly feature).

Facebook is a wildcard at this point, and surprisingly not very transparent about its intentions. Other people are discussing it though with or without facebook’s participation.

Coxy’s blog | Hacker News Discussion

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