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14.2. Introduction to Frames

Frames allow you to divide the browser window into smaller subwindows, each of which displays a different HTML document. Introduced by Netscape Navigator 2.0, frame support was soon added by other popular browsers. The basic frame specification works with Netscape Navigator 2.0 and higher as well as Microsoft Internet Explorer 3.0 and higher. As of this writing, frames have found their way into the World Wide Web Consortium's HTML 4.01 specification.

Despite the advanced navigational functionality that frames offer, they do present certain problems and peculiarities that have lead to their currently controversial status. In fact, they've become so notorious that it is not uncommon for web developers to encounter clients who, despite not knowing a lick of HTML themselves, strongly proclaim, "No frames!" at the beginning of a project.

Like most things, frames are neither all good nor all bad. It is your responsibility to be familiar with both sides of the coin so you can help present the best solution for your clients' needs.

14.2.1. Advantages

Consider these advantages to using frames:

  • The main advantage to frames is that they enable parts of the page to remain stationary while other parts scroll. This is useful for elements you may not want to scroll out of view, such as navigational options or banner advertising.

  • Frames unify resources that reside on separate servers. For instance, you may use frames to combine your own material (and navigation graphics) with threaded discussion material generated by software on a vendor's server.

  • With the <noframes> tag, you can easily add alternative content for browsers that do not support frames. This degradability is built into the frames system.

14.2.2. Disadvantages

Also keep in mind these disadvantages:

That said, let's look at how framed documents are constructed.

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