Google has been developing an extension to the “Text Fragments” URL standard. The new link style will allow you to link not only to a page but to specific text on a page, which will automatically be scrolled to and highlighted once the page is loaded. It’s like an anchor point, but with anyone’s focus and credibility.
The app has been sponsored in Chrome since version 80, reaching the stable channel in February. Now a new Google update makes this new form of connection simple to build and would function for anybody else to use Chrome on mobile OSes and IOS. Google has suggested the idea to the W3C and hopes it will be adopted by other browsers, but even if they don’t, the links are backward compatible.
If you copy and paste this into Chrome, the browser will open the cat page for Wikipedia, scroll to the first text that matches. When nothing fits the text the page would still load. Backward-compatibility functions as browsers already accept the number sign (#) as a fragment of the URI which is normally used by the page developer for anchor connections. When you paste this into a browser that does not support it, the page will still load and it will only ignore everything after the number sign as a bad anchor point. So far, pretty good.
One issue is that this means you can have spaces within a URL. You can hand-code the link with ahref tag on a webpage or forum (or whatever the non-HTML equivalent is) and it will work all out. However, things get a little more complicated for instant messengers and social media which do not require coding to use automatic URL parsers. The URL parser considers space as the end of a URL, and you’ll need to use percent-encoding to substitute both spaces with the corresponding “percent 20.” URL parsers already have a chance to correctly connect this but it looks like a mess.
Spaces aren’t the only characters that could trigger issues. The basic RFC 3986 describes some “reserved” characters in a URL as having a special purpose, and they should not be in a URL. Web-page authoring programs appear to manage such characters instantly, so now that you’re embedding random sentences in a URL to highlight, there’s a better risk you ‘re going to run into either of these restricted characters:! * *);: ‘(@ & = + #]. [# […] they all need to be encoded percentage-wise for the URL to work and Google’s extension will take care of that for you.
Google’s latest Chrome update, named “Connect to Text Fragment,” (it’s also available on Github) would place a new entry in the right-click menu in Chrome.
On a page, you just highlight text, right-click it, and hit “Copy link to selected text.” A text fragment link will end up on your clipboard, like magic.