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Tip of the Day
Language: Session/State management
Expertise: Beginner
Nov 19, 1999

Access Browser History

Question:

How does the browser history work? Is it possible to take out a link in the history? For example, I have a page with a redirect. The redirect works fine in Internet Explorer; when you hit the back button, it skips the redirect. But Netscape doesn't skip the redirect so when you hit the back button, you get redirected to where you just were. Oh beautiful Netscape...a Web developer's worst nightmare.

Answer:

The History object (of both browsers) is somewhat restricted due to security reasons. After all, you don't want script in a Web page from any Joe-Shmoe's site to know where you have been browsing. It is possible, however, for client-side JavaScript to access the history object as an array of strings if you have digitally signed your script and have enabled the "UniversalBrowserRead" privilege. You can find details on how to digitally sign a script in JavaScript: The Definitive Guide from O'Reilly. This is one of the better JavaScript books out there.

Even with a signed script, the History object is read-only, which means that you will not be able to remove any particular URL from the history list. However, because you will be able to access the History list as an array of strings, you could provide your own navigation buttons on your Web page and provide associated logic to direct the user to exactly the page you want.

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