17 March 2021

Web Platform Wish List: Single Tab Pages

I wonder if there should be a web-standard of some form to indicate that certain pages should not be open in more than one tab. This would be particularly useful for certain web-apps that are large enough, or complex enough, that it’s better to avoid having multiple copies of them opened at the same time.

Here’s how I’d see this working:

  • Open a web page at a specific URL in the browser.
  • The server returns the page content with either a specific header, or a meta-tag of some sort, indicating that there should only be one tab of this specific page opened at any one time.
  • While that tab is opened, clicking a link to that URL from another page will bring you to that tab that was already opened. This will also work for links that are found outside the browser, like in emails or a chat.

A classic use case for this would be something like Google Calendar. I have Google Calendar opened in a browser tab, but I get meeting invites sent to me in another app. Clicking the invite link will bring up Google Calendar in a brand new tab, instead of simply highlighting the proposed meeting slot in tab that I already have opened.

The usual practice around miss-use can be applied here, like only applying to TLD+1 or the domains of the actual page that is requesting this feature. This should also be something that the user can override: there should be nothing stopping the user from disabling this feature or explicitly creating a new tab and copying and pasting the URL in order to open the new the page in a new tab.

This is probably something that will only be useful in a limited number of circumstances. Web-pages with content, like news and blogs, will be better of not using this feature.

Anyway, one more idea for the already huge web platform 🙂.

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