Why I don't like imagemaps
Many people use imagemaps ("clickable pictures") in their home pages. I
hate them. Instead of a high-resolution colour picture that doesn't display
properly on my monochrome monitor and takes a minute to load even under the
best of all possible conditions, a few dozen words could nicely describe
where each link leads. A sentence is worth ten thousand pixels -- and it is
An ill-chosen word is a fool's messenger.
What about an ill-chosen picture?
Currently, imagemaps are implemented by the servers they reside on; the
mapping relation is not part of the document at hand, but implemented by
the dark magic of a cgi script that transforms a set of coordinates to a
link according to a rule base. Thus, the
user has absolutely no feedback as to what to expect when she clicks on the
image. When doing the click on an imagemap, I sometimes feel as if I were
jumping from a springboard into a pool - at night.
Also, there is the phenomenon of image-map-based links: i sometimes see
links of the form "http://www.foo.bar/baz?27346,7465", i.e. links to points
on an image-map. Every time a user access this link, she has to hope that
the underlying map hasn't been updated in between, and that the mapping
script doesn't take too long.
Don't take me wrong, there are applications for imagemaps: map servers,
interactive Rubik's Cubes, many games. These are all fine with me. But to
serve as a graphically enhanced front for ordinary HTML pages is a mis-use.
The following specimen nicely demonstrates most of the problems associated
with the medium:
(Doesn't it look entirely horrible? I am so proud of
it! It contains 9 genuine links.)
In case you don't believe that anyone would create such a map for real,
look at the entrace page of the ISODE
Consortium. All the elements are there: graphics that add no useful
contents, but force a convolved text layout; 45 degree slanted text, and
the occasional logo and picture thrown in. Plus the added thoughtlessness
that parts of the map are nearly illegible on a b/w screen.
Thanks to jutta for bringing this to my attention!
(16.06.95: still as ugly as then)
(16.05.95) At last, there is some help. The new <img>
tag proposed for HTML 3 has some imagemap features as well - a standard
menu can be defined as the "replacement text" for an image, and position
markers can be put in the URLs to refer to regions in the image.
This page is part of the Rant Space.