DEV Community

Cover image for Why People Don't Like When Chrome Messes with URLs
Ben Halpern
Ben Halpern

Posted on

Why People Don't Like When Chrome Messes with URLs

It appears that Chrome is taking more steps towards obfuscation of URLs.

👉 Google Chrome to Hide Parts of URLs in Future Update

But what's the big deal? It's not like the typical user gets anything from the URL...

Part of this issue is that URLs are a component of technical literacy we all wish we didn't just throw the towel in on. But I think the bigger issue really isn't about the URL itself at all. People in the developer ecosystem are concerned about Google eating the web, and anything they do to change things is going to be scrutinized in this lens.

Here is a screenshot of AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages)


Pardon my low battery, but did not write this article. This is AMP—one of Google's boldest moves in consuming the web. Since this is a dev site, we don't need to get into that whole thing too specifically.

Google's moves to erode standards, monopolize certain technologies and services, and build the web in a self-serving way is always going to rub people the wrong way.

This issue cannot be seen as whether this individual outcome is problematic, but whether we want to allow the open web to die by a thousand paper cuts.

Google has helped push the world wide web forward, and that cannot be ignored or taken for granted, but in its position of dominance it has taken steps to capture value rather than strictly emit it.

You could say that Apple is choking the web from a different direction and that Microsoft has just handed power to Google because it's the better short term play. However, it is Google that most needs to be under the microscope when it makes any bold choices about the future of the web and the browser.

Any URL debate is about much more than just the URL.

Top comments (25)

felipperegazio profile image
Felippe Regazio • Edited

think the url still be there, but in a hidden fashion on the address bar, like a cellphone browser, right? but why? i think this will be optional (i hope), but i could point some problems:

  1. debugging (we need the whole url available)
  2. navigation (sometimes its just easier to change a url param)
  3. will be easier to create fake webpages with similar addresses (lets go phishing then)

But the most important step i would point here is the end of the "navigation by memory". When i like a page, a service or something, i can memorize some parts of its url or even the whole url, i can change some url params to get faster on my destiny, because im always looking at it. If i dont see the whole url, i cant memorize where i am and where i want to go so easily, so i will need Google even more, even for the simplest things like remember a page signin address or a profile. The point is: you cant remember what you doesn't see. This is not a theory, just a digression, but it is believable, or Google just thought "oh it looks a lot better". Who knows ¯_(ツ)_/¯

jsn1nj4 profile image
Elliot Derhay • Edited

It sounds to me like the address bar doesn't truncate the URL, but only temporarily hides everything after the domain name until you interact with the address bar.

If Google is trying to appear to "own" everything, that's pretty freaking low. If the address bar were actually physically truncating the part of the URL you could interact with, that would probably only make me more irritated.

I'm using Brave, so I'm hoping there will be a setting included to turn this off—heck, I would hope MS would make sure not to ship this feature too in EDGE.

felipperegazio profile image
Felippe Regazio

"Google is trying to appear to 'own' everything". Yeah, which leads to another impression: "you cant find/remember anything without us".

Thread Thread
jsn1nj4 profile image
Elliot Derhay

Oh I bet they wouldn't mind that one bit.

Thread Thread
codemouse92 profile image
Jason C. McDonald

Are we certain that Sundar Pichai isn't actually the Cyber Controller?

Tenth Doctor shaking his head

Thread Thread
felipperegazio profile image
Felippe Regazio • Edited

do you say about Sundar Pichai's decisions being aligned with some possible intentions of owning the internet?

Thread Thread
codemouse92 profile image
Jason C. McDonald • Edited

Perhaps as phase one of eventually upgrading humans to cybermen...?

(Or maybe just to get obscenely rich. That's a valid theory too.)

Thread Thread
felipperegazio profile image
Felippe Regazio

maybe get obscenely rich by upgrading humans to cybermen u.u

itsasine profile image
ItsASine (Kayla) • Edited

I already get annoyed having to triple-click the URL to get back https and www to copy. This is lame. I assume that the article's reference to hover for full URL would also be valid for clicking, but I wouldn't put it too past Google to hide it harder.

aurelio profile image

Triple click and - if you want to copy a part of it - seeing the url jumping to the right when the 'https' part magically appears after one of the clicks, sending your selection away from the pointer. Infuriating

guitarino profile image
Kirill Shestakov • Edited

URLs is something that any internet user needs to understand, just like folder path is something any computer user needs to understand. Any attempt to hide it will lead to restricting user's freedom. Users should be able to interact with a URL like with any other text input in the page, they should see the text, understand it, copy, paste, modify. If the URLs are not shown, not only users actions are going to be restricted, but it could lead to reduced literacy on how the internet works. Think of an old lady not understanding what a URL is, and imagine that this lack of understanding is going to be a norm - what good does it do?

taufik_nurrohman profile image
Taufik Nurrohman

When minimalism goes too far.

ferricoxide profile image
Thomas H Jones II

What I love is when I go to share a link from a Google tile and, instead of getting the bare URL, I get a AMPified URL that's three pages long. If I want to share a direct link, I have to go out of my way to do it.

You want to say, "look, you twits: if you're going to insist on altering URLs, how about you make them more compact instead of decidedly less?"

Of course, I'm still salty as hell as to what happened to all of my Photos tags after Google decided that their face-recognition algorithms were a more-reliable tagging-source than the tags that the photos were uploaded with.

skryking profile image
Jason Ormes

Phishing is my biggest concern. We preach constantly to our users to verify that the URL is where you really think you should be going and if the browser starts doing funny things with the URL it might make that a bit more difficult for the user to verify it. Experience shows that if you make something more difficult for a user they will just blow it off instead of spending the extra time to verify they are where they should be.

sinewalker profile image
Mike Lockhart

With this "feature" Chrome is unusable for web development or web admin. May as well not have a location bar at all. Will only run it if forced to by crappy non-standard web sites which only test in Chrome. Maybe boycott those sites.

twigman08 profile image
Chad Smith

I haven't looked too much into, but I guess what is meant by "hiding" the URL? Maybe it is mentioned and I missed it.

Like do they mean that even if I click in the URL bar to edit the URL that I don't even see the full url that way?

Or just that it'll only display maybe the top level domain, then you click in the URL bar it will then show the full path and query parameters?
I ask because the browser I use right now, Vivaldi, already hides the query strings from me until I click in the URL bar. I don't mind it. I like it actually. It's simple until I actually need it. I feel for most people this is totally fine. I wouldn't mind if they just showed like the top level domain too honestly if I was just browsing the site, until I clicked in the URL bar.

But I guess I don't see how they could do it any other way as people copy and paste URLs. If they don't show the entire thing ever I'm not sure how people could then copy and paste URLs.

itsjzt profile image
Saurabh Sharma

I'm glad I switched to brave.

I never understood AMP, if you care about performace your site will be fast, you willnot need AMP.

shaijut profile image
Shaiju T

While browsing in chrome , sometimes it opens chrome-search://local-ntp/local-ntp.html and then opens the desired web page. I don't know why.

leob profile image
leob • Edited

What do you mean exactly by "hide parts of the URL"?

Isn't it a matter of, I don't know, right-clicking somewhere, or pressing some key, to re-obtain the full URL (copied to the clipboard or whatever)? I can't imagine that they'd be completely hiding the "real" URL from any remotely sophisticated user.

I always have the idea that "dumbing stuff down" or making things 'proprietary' is more a Microsoft or an Apple thing (although Google aren't completely altruistic saints either of course).

abdisalan_js profile image

I think it makes sense to hide it for non-technical users. What really matters is that its clear that this site is from where it says its from and helps with phishing scams. Just yesterday I got a sketchy link asking for my bank creds from

bhupesh profile image
Bhupesh Varshney 👾

The only problem I have is that the "Big Tech" is where the innovation happens in tech, they are the only few orgz who can create/destroy stuff which i sometimes don't like.
Do we have a say in this ?
I mean I am not saying whether its a good move or not but in this way things in future will be like what Black Mirror portrays us :(

byrro profile image
Renato Byrro

I would stop using Chrome if they ever make this URL hiding mandatory in their browser.

nuculabs_dev profile image
Nucu Labs

Does this happen on Firefox too?

pavelloz profile image
Paweł Kowalski

Of course not. A lot of weird, hostile things happen only in Chrome and will happen until users vote with their feet and drop it from the pedestal.

At least thats why I dropped this ram-hog ;)