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4. Finding the real address of a page in a frames-based site

The Problem | The Reason | The Solution | What to do with the solution

The Problem

  • you have been given a website address, only to find that the article which is supposed to be at that address isn't - and all you have is the front page of a site with one word "Enter this site" on it.
  • you have tried to return to an article by typing in the link you saw in the address bar, only to find that the same think happens as in (1) above
  • you are trying to give an accurate reference for a website, and, knowing that (2) has happened, you want to know how to do it properly.

The Reason

Many web sites use a system called "frames" in their design. You may have seen the phrase "No Frames? Click here". Frames are a convenient way of keeping the contents pages of a site down one side of the page all the time, so that you can always see an outline of the rest of the site, wherever you are on it. Rather like keeping one finger in the index of a book while you look up certain pages.

On a frames-based site, the address given in the address bar is the address of the contents page on the left hand side - and it never changes. You never see the true address of pages which load in the right hand side reflected in the address bar. To see this in action, visit the RAD Website, and, keeping an eye on the address bar, keep clicking on all the links to different pages on the navigation bar on the left. It doesn't change does it?

Handy though this is for website designers, it's a nuisance if you want to pass on the address of a particular article, because you can't just take it out of the address bar.

The Solution

There are four ways of finding out the the proper address:

  1. Before you click on a link to an article or document, press SHIFT. This will open the document in a new Window, and the proper address will be in the address bar. Note that the side-frame will now have disappeared. Some sites manage to over-ride this, however, so try (3) if this doesn't work.
  2. Before you click on a link, hover the mouse over the link, and watch the 'status bar' in the bottom left hand side of the screen. You will see the true URL in this area. Not a lot of use, since you can't copy and paste a link from here.
  3. Having clicked on a link, and so with the desired document open, right click on the screen anywhere in the text. Click on the "Properties", and check the URL of the document in the "properties window"
  4. Sometimes, web authors are kind enough to put at the bottom of the page "The URL of this page is:" and the true address.

What to do with the solution

In cases 1, 3, and 4, the next thing to do is to select the URL from either the address bar, the properties window, or the bottom of the page itself, copy it, and paste it into your bibliography, or into a document where you keep internet references.



Updated Sunday November 11, 2001 4:29 PM

© Jonathan Still 2001 You may quote from these pages, but if your selection includes a reference I have made to someone else's work, please make sure that the attribution is clear. By not doing so, you may implicate me in plagiarism.