Disabling The Backspace Key in IE

A half-hour’s lost typing in a web form was the impetus for me to spend two hours trying to prevent the same thing from ever happening again, by disabling the Backspace key in IE. It’s a terrible shortcut.

First stop: grabbing Turnabout for IE. Turnabout is basically Greasemonkey for IE – it lets you run your own scripts on a web page, as if they were a part of the page. So if something about a page annoys you (with time, effort and sufficient development patience) you can actually fight back and do something about it using GreaseMonkey/Turnabout scripts, without having to go through a pleading flamewar with the damn web developer. Or in this case, the browser developer.

Next up: Writing and debugging the script… (flash forward two hours)… Wow. For such a short script, I sure had a bastard of a time getting it to work at all. As far as I’m aware, the script is IE-Only, feel free to hack it to pieces. It’s clunky, but seems to work for my purposes. There’s some rudimentary logic involved to prevent backspace working in non-text elements – in short: if the element you’re in is an input box or a text element, backspace is allowed. If it’s not, it’s silently dropped.

What It Does: This turnabout script disables the Backspace key in non-input boxes. This should make it really hard to navigate accidentally while filling out a form.

But I Use The Backspace Key: Tough. Don’t use this script. Instead, consider Alt+Left Arrow.

Download: NoBackspace (zip file, uncompress to your Turnabout scripts folder). Note: You’ll need the Advanced version of Turnabout in order to load custom scripts.

Known Issues: 0.1 didn’t like the edit control at MSN Spaces. Fixed in 0.2.

Tags: , , ,

A Quick Interlude on the un-disable-able Backspace Key in IE

Can I just say, quickly, that I (expletive deleted)ing HATE the way that pressing Backspace will invariably lose all the work you’ve done in a web form, if you’ve accidentally lost focus on the textbox?

This has to be the single most (same expletive deleted again)ed-up feature of browsers. And yet some people actually like it! Guess they haven’t lost a lot of work to it recently. Yes, I’m still fuming.

IE Team: Please fix in IE7.

I would really, really, really, really, really, really, really like the option of disabling Backspace as a navigation key (I’m happy to use Alt-Left Arrow instead, which is a combination that actually takes effort to use, and so has a high probability of the user typing it purposefully). Backspace is an editing key, not a cursor key!

It can be disabled by site developers for a particular site, but it should be up to the user to disable it if they don’t like it.

If you’re out there, and you hate the Backspace key being used for navigation too, please, send a trackback to this post, or comment the IE blog.

This post brought to you by the letter ‘b’, and the number “half an hour’s worth of lost typing”.