Friday, May 09, 2008

The New York Times Website is Way Cool!

I don't know if I've just been sleeping and missed someone writing about this but the New York Times has a very, very cool website. First of all, as mentioned in this article, the Times displays very well across different browsers and mobile devices because they hand code the HTML! When almost everyone uses high-level editors like Dreamweaver this is quite a commitment to quality given the extra time they must spend coding.

But what really blew me away today was something that happened as I was reading the Times today. This article was discussing how a US General's planned posting in Pakistan (to lead the fight against Al Qaeda) was cancelled due to his being "excoriated in the Pakistani news media for one of his previous jobs: commander of the United States prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba." Excoriated? What the heck does that mean. So, planning to look up the word in my Mac's built-in dictionary I double click on it and...holy cow! A New York Times web page opens in a new browser window with the dictionary definition. Wait a second - I must have clicked something else - it couldn't have been just a double-click! So I tried again. It opened again. Then I started to look for some sign that this was actually a hidden url - couldn't see it - now I haven't opened up the source code - don't have time and personally don't care how it's implemented (JavaScript or maybe via XUL). Then I double-clicked 'Pakistani' in the above sentence and another page opens, this time with both a dictionary definition and a encyclopedic entry. Guys, you have out-done yourselves. I am truly blown away.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is how technology should work. Wow! Way Cool!

By the way, I was using Firefox Beta 5 on OS X Leopard.


Tim said...

Sorry, but I HATE the "click for definition" feature. I used to read the NY Times daily, but it annoyed me so much that I rarely hit the site anymore.

I have a habit of selecting random text, or grabbing a word or two for a google search. On the NYT site, that results in spammish popups.

This is exactly the sort of thing that should be a browser plugin, not built into some website.

Daniel Lucraft said...

That drives me up the wall. I have the same habit as Tim: I'm constantly selecting text as I read. So on NYT I get random popups four or five times during the course of an article.

Basically I have to sit on my hands. And a website that makes me sit on my hands isn't one I'm going to return to a lot.

gonnaberich said...

Worst and most annoying feature I've found on a website in a long time. I also select lines of text as a marker for my eye, as to where I am on the page. But instead on NY Times a new page is constantly opening up.

I can just as easily double click to select a word, and right click to use the context menu to search.

Seriously, default good GUI practices: Don't assign 'new' functionality to fundamental keyboard/mouse operations. Don't change the results of their in grained behavior.

Jeff R said...

we found this feature a couple months ago. It is actually some javascript from If you pull the include, and put it on your site, it can do the same thing, except it displays the results on a NYT webpage.

Asad Quraishi said...

Looks like most of you find it annoying - I can respect that. It doesn't interfere with my browsing or "cut & paste" experience if I'm looking to quote a portion of the text.