bread crumbs : Java Glossary


The green bar at the top of each page on this website is called the bread crumbs bar. It is a navigation aid to tell you where you are in the website tree. You can click to get back directly to any previous point.

The name comes from the Brothers Grimm fairly tale Hansel and Gretel. When Hansel went off into the woods, he left a trail of bread crumbs behind to help him find his way back. Unfortunately birds ate them and he and Gretel became lost and ended up almost being eaten by a witch.

I pioneered the use of the bread crumbs bar many years ago. A school asked permission to teach my method. Now you see it everywhere. I don’t know if people got the idea from me, or came up with it independently. It is not rocket science.

The first recorded use of them was by Jakob Nielsen circa 1995.

My green bread crumb bar you see at the top of each page in this website was inspired by such a navigational aid at However, mine works much more simply without JavaScript using only CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) styles and a couple of tiny *.png files. Likely your browser does not support the + CSS selector. This means the hover effect will not properly highlight the tip of the arrow. I chose subtle colours, so that failing is barely noticeable.

My original version used left-pointing arrows, to tell you what would happen if you clicked the bread crumb. My latest version uses right-pointing arrows, to indicate the direction you travelled to get to the current point. This is the most common convention.

You are welcome to copy my method and the styles and images to support it. Check out the breadcrumb, firstbreadbcrumb and lastbreadcrumb classes in the style sheet mindprod.css.

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