Rants about the HTML anchor tag

Links are probably the most important of all the elements on the Web. Links are what make the Web, a WEB – of interconnected resources. Here are a couple of things you probably didn’t know or may be did, about links, aka anchor tags. Normal text, as the text content in a book is considered to be linear, as information flows from one end to the other there, linearly. HyperText is text that is not linear. HyperText can have an additional dimension, which is the meaning defined by a link. The ability of HTML to have links is why it is called HyperText Markup Language.

the download attribute

The traditional way of prompting file download is by adding a ‘Content-Disposition’ header, which is done at the server side. HTML5 introduces a download attribute to your anchor tag and it will prompt file download of the linked resource when the link is clicked.

<a href="video3482.mp4" download>Download video</a>
Providing a value for the download attribute is optional, but if you provide a value, then the download prompt will have that value as the default filename for the file to be saved.

Later versions of Firefox (v20+) requires that if download attribute is specified, then the value of href must be a resource of the same origin. And, as of now, as you would expect, IE doesn’t support the download attribute yet, but they are planning to.

#top will scroll to the top

HTML5 defines that if the value of href is not a valid element ID in the page, then if the value of href is #top, clicking on the link will scroll to the top of the page.

href stands for hypertext reference

When I first learned html, I found the href attribute hard to remember. It made no sense to me. I read it as h-r-e-f. But later I deduced that it was actually h-ref and then everything made sense. Like everyone, I also assumed that the h stood for hypertext or hyperlink. Well, today I did confirm that h is for hypertext. So href is in fact hypertext reference. Tim Berners-Lee says so.


  • Shibinragh

    Useful information thanks