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[Bug 27089] New: Change tabIndex spec to only declare 0 and -1 as valid values

From: <bugzilla@jessica.w3.org>
Date: Thu, 16 Oct 2014 21:52:55 +0000
To: public-html-admin@w3.org
Message-ID: <bug-27089-2495@http.www.w3.org/Bugs/Public/>
https://www.w3.org/Bugs/Public/show_bug.cgi?id=27089

            Bug ID: 27089
           Summary: Change tabIndex spec to only declare 0 and -1 as valid
                    values
           Product: WHATWG
           Version: unspecified
          Hardware: PC
                OS: Windows NT
            Status: NEW
          Severity: normal
          Priority: P3
         Component: HTML
          Assignee: ian@hixie.ch
          Reporter: mike@w3.org
        QA Contact: contributor@whatwg.org
                CC: faulkner.steve@gmail.com, john@foliot.ca, mike@w3.org,
                    mzehe@mozilla.com, public-html-admin@w3.org,
                    public-html-wg-issue-tracking@w3.org,
                    surkov.alexander@gmail.com
        Depends on: 27076

+++ This bug was initially created as a clone of Bug #27076 +++

This is a proposal to officially declare tabIndex values > 0 invalid in the
spec and the validator.

Rationale: The tabIndex attribute is used to make items focusable with the
keyboard and programmatically. Currently, it takes three classes of values:

* 0: The element is made focusable, and it is integrated into the tab order at
its location in the DOM.
* -1: The element is made focusable, but is skipped in the tab order, but can
still take focus programmatically.
* > 0: The items are put in the tab order first, and their order is determined
by the actual value. Only if all those elements have been traversed via tab,
does the order in the DOM take effect.

This third class of values has in the past lead to nothing but frustration
among web developers and keyboard users, judging from feedback I get in my day
to day accessibility work. Also, personal experience shows that no instance of
tabIndex use that involved values greater than 0 have led to better usability.
On the contrary, in all my personal experience over the years, I have not come
across one site that got this right.

Due to author error, which mostly stems from lack of awareness, tab order on
many sites that use tabIndex improperly is erratic and not user-friendly. For
further reading on this, I suggest a post published on the Paciello Group blog
by LĂ©onie Watson in August of 2014:
http://www.paciellogroup.com/blog/2014/08/using-the-tabindex-attribute/

Proposed changes:

1. Include explicit text to not use tabIndex with a value greater than 0 in the
next version of the documentation of the tabIndex attribute in the HTML spec.
2. Change the W3C validator to spit out an error on tabIndex values other than
0 and -1.

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Received on Thursday, 16 October 2014 21:52:57 UTC

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