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Kraigmo's avatar

What happened to the links at the top of Google? ("Web, Images, Videos, Maps, News")

Asked by Kraigmo (8178points) November 10th, 2010

Earlier this year, Google ( www.google.com) made a “design improvement” by hiding these links until you moved you moved your mouse a bit. Then they’d appear. It was done to make for a “cleaner look” to their website. It was fine, though, long as it works.

But now those links aren’t even there! (As of today).

Is this a case of Ajax/Javascript not working as planned (as always… stupid web designers)

Or did one of Google’s engineers make a stupid mistake today eliminating those links?

Or was this done on purpose?

(To see how the links look, you can still go to www.google.ca , the Canadian version still has ‘em).

So what’s going on with Google?

And if it’s a Javascript/Ajax issue… that brings up the subject of why do web designers insert such stupid crap when not necessary? I really do mean unnecessary. On some sites, it is necessary, but certainly not in Google, Youtube, Myspace, and all the other big ones, where it is just used for a gooey page-clean effect, and is always full of errors.

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15 Answers

crisw's avatar

I see them in my browser…

lillycoyote's avatar

I still see them too. Maybe it’s something on your end.

Kraigmo's avatar

@crisw and @lillycoyote thanks.

Further evidence that Google’s javascript and ajax games cause browsers to screw up. I bet if I clear my cache and stuff, it should fix this.

But I shouldn’t have to do that.

funkdaddy's avatar

Shift-F5 will give you a hard (and hopefully cache free) refresh of the page.

2 seconds and you’re done.

jrpowell's avatar

Just try refreshing the page while holding down shift. That will force it to reload the assets.

edit :: or what funk said.

Kraigmo's avatar

Refreshing did not work.

I just cleared my cache and that worked.

Something in my cache was interfering with those links on Google.

If Google used some intelligent thinking, they’d realize that HTML links would NEVER disappear due to cache incompatibility. Those web designers really love their little Ajax-like gimmicks, don’t they.

Thanks you guys. If anyone knows the technical details behind why this happens, I’d like to know.

camertron's avatar

@Kraigmo google and many other web developers are just trying to make the web feel more like a desktop application. Google does Ajax better than anybody, and I’m pretty sure that they test meticulously. The links on Google’s main page aren’t ajax links – they’re just hidden and shown via javascript (maybe ajax, but unlikely).

Kraigmo's avatar

@camertron, but if its fallible why even bother? The links never disappeared when they were part of the actual main HTML page. But now that they use the javascript, today I have an issue. Granted, it’s the first issue on Google with this, but why do it at all when it always seems to inevitably lead to bugs?

funkdaddy's avatar

They pushed an update, your locally cached copy didn’t match up with the new one, so the two had some interaction problems.

The only way to avoid the copy your browser stores locally from ever not matching the the other parts would be to never update anything. So unfortunately it’s not an option.

Stop using IE, it sucks. Double if your using anything before 8.

Kraigmo's avatar

@funkdaddy , I gave up on IE about a year after I gave up on AOL. (About 5 years ago). I love my Firefox, but it sure is becoming the “new IE” when it comes to compatibility with websites, particularly websites heavy on Adobe Flash applications. And now this problem on Google. I think the fault here is Google’s for using a javascript for “design” instead of actual function. If it was HTML like before, the update would not have crashed the ability of the cached version to work. (Because in the history of Google, I’ve only seen bugs post-Javascript).

funkdaddy's avatar

@Kraigmo – for me the links up top no longer “hide”, so maybe someone heard you.

If we’re speaking about philosophies for web design, generally I agree with you, the lowest common technology that gets the job done can be used and you should improve from there in a way that can fall back without breaking.

This wasn’t caused by a problem with Google’s design philosophy (which is generally as I described above, except in cases where they just can’t offer similar functionality without javascript), or a Firefox compatibility issue, this was just that the local copy didn’t match up with the changes they pushed just recently. Your copy stored on your computer was older for either the markup (html) or scripting (javascript) so things didn’t line up, the browser probably tripped an error and stopped running any javascript, so things didn’t work right.

Once you cleared your local copy (the cache), you pulled a new copy from google’s servers and everything worked again.

Caching is a pretty key part of the web experience as we know it, so disabling it all together would be a mistake. It does however occasionally cause issues like this. The problem is if you’re looking for someone to blame you’ll need to go back a lot farther in the development of how we interact with the pages on the internet.

In short, it wasn’t stupid Google’s fault, or stupid Firefox’s any more than a car running out of gas is stupid Toyota’s or stupid Exxon’s. Sometimes it happens, the easiest thing to do is fill up the tank and keep on driving.

Kraigmo's avatar

@funkdaddy , I’m piling up my anger on Google, but this issue predates them, and is worse on other sites, such as Myspace Music, which would be the most wonderful Music site on Earth, if it weren’t for their buggy Javascript. Another example is Youtube, and browsing pages that contain more than 30 videos. Before this Javascript trend started (and after the frames fad ended), web browsing was a lot smoother. Web pages were uglier… but they sure worked a lot better.

You pointed out that this “new” page of Google would have had to replace the one in my cache whether or not the Javascript was there… which makes your analogy about the empty gas tank appropriate, and makes my finger pointing irrelevant.

But how come I’ve never seen a bug on Google in the years I’ve used it till now? And the bug occurs exactly where they inserted Javascript where there was none before? My question is rhetorical unless someone has new info here.

I’m lucky this is only a bug that emptying my cache fixes.
I wish I could play the 10,000 songs that I love on Myspace without having to deal with their own Javascript-caused issues.

camertron's avatar

@funkdaddy and @Kraigmo your concerns are absolutely valid, but if nobody ever pushed the envelope when it comes to using new technology, we’d never move forward. Imagine what would have happened if Alexander Graham Bell never decided to test his theories on communicating over great distance because he was worried that it wouldn’t be accepted. Or, for a slightly more recent example, imagine what would have happened if Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg had said, “Gee, I nobody’s ever gonna use this” and not launched his now 500 million-user company. The fact is, new technology drives us forward into newer and usually better territory.

The use of javascript and ajax is by no means a new way of doing things – in fact, javascript has been used pretty much since the inception of the modern Internet (around 1998 or so).

Finally, I think it’s a little hasty to call Firefox the next IE. Internet Explorer, while having now gone through eight entire versions (with the ninth coming very soon) still doesn’t get basic layout and javascript related things right. Firefox on the other hand, which is coming up on version four (half the number of IE) has consistently been much more accurate. My roommate was just saying today that he wishes he had started making a list of all the things IE doesn’t do right – it would probably fill the space of an entire novel!

Here at Fluther we are constantly battling the IE madness. Sometimes it even delays the release of new features because we just can’t figure out how to get around IE’s limitations. There are literally thousands of other web developers out there with the same woes. Contrarily, everything we do in Chrome works in Firefox and vice versa. With the occasional exception of very minor aesthetic bugs (misalignment mostly), they render perfect pages. Is Firefox the next IE? No way.

Kraigmo's avatar

@camertron , well i’m happy that its easy and truthful to say that you guys here are using fancy little programming things perfectly. Such as the “Live Preview” function. That’s a dangerous bell/whistle, but it works perfectly here. Probably because you are careful and minimalist, which makes such tools work much better. I don’t even know what little thing you did to make the Live Preview work, but I wouldn’t trust that program or script or whatever it is, in the hands of Myspace or Youtube. It works great here, though. Whoever thought of it, programmed it, and maintains it…. all doing perfect, far-above average jobs.

camertron's avatar

@Kraigmo thanks for commending our live preview – Andrew and Ben’s work I believe (the founders). All Fluther pages were also designed to work with javascript disabled. I understand your point about it being annoying when something breaks and it didn’t need to. It sounds like you’ve solved the problem though.

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