I was told having a Identify Tool is a bad practice in most web applications. Can anyone explain why or point me to a resource that explains why having a Identify Tool is considered bad design in a web application? If every feature you click on brings up a pop-up that could probably get annoying as well. Seems like an identify tool could help prevent these potentially annoying pop-ups.
Most desktop GIS applications have an "identify tool", or icon, that you click before you can click on features on the map. It also, usually, allows you to specify which layers should be identifiable. It usually shows this data in a generic field-value table. This can be useful in a generic application for analysts that are familiar with the data.
None of the main online GIS styled mapping web sites have this functionality (not Google Maps, Bing Maps, MapQuest, Yahoo Maps, ArcGIS Online etc).
This is in contrast to a web mapping application where you just click on something and it displays nicely formatted content. The application developer has taken the time to both decide which layers/features should be clickable in this specific application, as well as set up a nicely formatted popup that might show the data in a chart, or something else that turns the data fields into useful "information". Each web mapping application in this scenario tend to have been created for a specific use case.
Obviously, this is exaggerating the difference between these two different options, but I think it gives you some background to why some of us say that "Identify Tool is a bad practice in most web applications".