I should preface this with the statement that I do understand that HTML Framesets are on their way out, and that they have all sorts of SEO/accessibility concerns.

That being said, I've been considering building a web-based API app, and I really like the format of the Java and AS3 APIs. They both use framesets in what I consider to be a reasonable manner, and are the most readable API's that I know of. The AS3 CS4 API no longer uses frames, but is verrrryyyyyy slooowwwwww.

My other consideration was to make an AJAX-driven (jQuery) site so that I don't have to reload the entire API class/package list on each page load. It would likely reduce the data-transfer to be less than the frameset version.

I feel that the frameset format will simplify many of the features that the AJAX version would have to re-create (resizable regions, targeted links, etc). Also, the frameset version wouldn't require javascript.

Am I being foolish to think that this could be a useful application of framesets?

1 Answer 1


Most of the purpose of frames can be done much more effectively, accessibly and beautifully with CSS and jQueryUI.

With jQueryUI you can set the height of a div to be the height of the window (or whatever you want it to be). You can use resizable, draggable, etc, to make the content more functional than frames.

Think of apps like Netvibes and Gmail, and what they would look and feel like if they were built with frames instead.

  • I understand that i can reinvent frames without frames, but what's the point of reinventing frames when they're the style I want. As an API, there's very little need for more than the simplest styles, and much of the data is tabular...
    – zzzzBov
    Commented Apr 14, 2011 at 22:11
  • 1
    I guess I was answering your question on the basis of 'what are the advantages of developing something instead of using frames?' You're right, though - if frames do everything you need, look and feel the way you want, and you don't have to worry about accessibility, then use frames.
    – Dan Blows
    Commented Apr 14, 2011 at 22:15
  • the main reason i am asking the question was because I've been told so many times "never use frames" that I've got this feeling in the back of my head like If I use frames here, my computer will explode!
    – zzzzBov
    Commented Apr 14, 2011 at 22:21
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    @zzzzBov, there's a lot of dogma in coding. In the case of frames, the disadvantages are as I said above - less flexible, less accessible, and less beautiful. But if it's good enough for you (and your employer/client/customer) then just ignore the dogma and get it done. You can always refactor later if necessary.
    – Dan Blows
    Commented Apr 14, 2011 at 22:57

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