When you link to a file like an image or a PDF-document it will be displayed within the browser normally. The download-attribute in links prevents this behavior and offers the file as a download in your browser.
The spec allows the attribute for having a value. This value can be a string which defines the name of the downloaded file. As a default the browser takes the file’s original name.
And this is what it could look like in HTML:
<ahref="path/to/file/file.png"download="a-nice-image.png">Download this file</a>
The value of the download-attribute overwrites the filename with a-nice-image.png.
The Content-Disposition-header can overwrite the name for the file.
This really nice demo exports a written text and offers it as download (but be aware of browser-support – see below).
The download-attribute is not supported very good at the moment of writing this article.
Chrome supports it since its version 14. Version 14 is only a view weeks away from the stable release.
Firefox 8alpha (Aurora-channel) does not support it as far as I experienced it. I did not find anything about any intensions when Mozilla will include it.
And the other ones? No support yet!
So, what’s the fallback?
There are other techniques to serve a file that will be offered as a downloads in the browser. For instance you can use an HTTP-Header that’s a mime-type that the browser does not know.
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